Category Archives: English

A checklist to improve your CSR program!


Red exotic flowerWe have decided to publish a series of 8 press releases, along with blog articles, providing organizations with a checklist of questions they can ask to easily identify potential improvement areas in the sustainability/CSR management.

The first one focuses on the overall CSR strategy, and is divided into 6 main themes:

1 –  Is the management engaged?

2 – Are employees involved?

3 – Are stakeholders consulted?

4 – Is the sustainability strategy intertwined with the overall strategy?

5 – Is a mechanism review implemented to measure the efficiency of the strategy?

6 Does the company communicate about the CSR program?

The above points should ensure that the CSR/sustainability program is efficient.

First, the management needs to understand the importance of such topics, at least in terms of risks and opportunities. It is better to assign dedicated roles and responsibilities to make sure that topics are taken into account.

To ensure the success of the CSR program, it is important that employees are aware of such programs and can actively take part in it. Employees are the ambassadors of the company, which means that they can influence the reputation of the company. Also, such initiatives can reinforce their motivation.

Third, all stakeholders (not only management or employees) need to be consulted and engaged as the role of CSR is to manage impacts towards them. Their opinions and ideas are thus required.

From a strategical standpoint, the CSR program makes even more sense when it is embedded in the overall strategy. In this sense, organizations can prioritize topics which are relevant to address them. This can ensure a long-term strategy, which will be beneficial for the stakeholders and the organization.

Once the strategy is decided, the program can be rolled out. With this, it is paramount to set quantitative targets that will be measured by specific metrics. The metrics will show the success of the initiatives, and are a way to reassess the strategy and its objectives.

Finally, such successes and decisions should be communicated to impacted stakeholders, included involved employees and the management, so that they understand the efficiency of the CSR program. Such communication also acts as a basis for discussions.

To discover the full checklist for the overall CSR program, please go to http://dfge.de/en/checklist-to-easily-improve-sustainability-programs/ or contact us at info@dfge.de

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Define your sustainable procurement strategy with the SDGs


Cliff and blue seaSince their adoption, there is an ongoing discussion how SDGs can be integrated and used by businesses; indeed, the SDGs explicitly name companies as contributors to a solution for sustainable development challenges. This article describes how the SDGs can be used as a framework for sustainable procurement strategy.

Sustainable procurement means turning risks into opportunities

Many risks companies face today are located in the supply chain and refer to reputation (corporate image) and strategy. First, deficits in the supply chain can damage a company’s reputation severely. This refers both to social and environmental issues; a widely known example is BP whose reputation was damaged due to the company’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. While every supply chain issue can cause direct financial cost for a company, reputation damage is something which can last for a very long time and which can hit a company in multiple ways. Despite lower sales, a reputation damage can for example also discourage talented people from applying for a job at the company.

Secondly, it can also be a strategic risk for a company not to manage its supply chain properly. If future scarcities of resources which are essential for a company’s operations are not properly accounted for in the strategy, and if a company is therefore not prepared to future price rises, it endangers its economic viability in the long term.

To tackle such risks, companies can implement sustainable procurement. It means that they can set standards that their suppliers need to follow. It consists of integrating sustainability criteria into the supply chain. On the one hand, risks are reduced. Indeed, if the supplier environmental system is solid, accidents and crisis should be solved quicker, reducing operational risks. If there is sound social dialogue and decent working conditions, there are less risks of strikes and of related production disruption. If human rights are respected, the reputation risk is managed. In the other hand, companies can benefit from various opportunities: more collaboration, more trust, innovation and new products, customer satisfaction, …

How can now the SDGs help companies to address and structure supply chain management?

You can tune your sustainable procurement strategy with the SDGs

The SDGs essentially represent a framework which addresses the full scope of sustainability topics and actors. The strength of this framework lies in its global acceptance and popularity; thus, using this framework for CSR communications means lowering the threshold of stakeholders to understand and back a company’s CSR strategy, including the sustainable procurement strategy.

The SDG Compass, issued by the Global Reporting Initiative gives an overview, how companies can link these targets to their business. By means of a high-level mapping of their value chain, companies can first identify topics where impacts are likely to occur. In the end, it should be clear whether core competencies, technologies and product portfolio of a company have rather positive or rather negative influence. This mapping process includes external stakeholder participation which adds additional aspects and points of view to the process. It is highly important to interact with the suppliers to understand what the impacts are, and where they occur. Indeed, in some cases such impacts are located only in the supply chain. For example, any retailer will avoid the potential risks linked to manufacturing, like occupational health and safety linked to machine use and high resource consumption. To do so, companies can ask suppliers about such risks during business reviews, make a quick analysis of their website or resort to risk databases.

After the mapping, a company should set measurable and time-bound goals to reflect the priorities and adopt related indicators. Such indicators express the relation between the company’s activities and the impact on stakeholders, and data for these indicators should be collected. Depending on the magnitude, severity and likelihood of current and potential negative impacts, a company then prioritizes indicators. Indicators linked to the supply chain need to reflect actual actions: share of suppliers considered at risk, share of suppliers audits, share of suppliers completing corrective action plan, share of successful re-audits, number of products including new sustainable features thanks to supplier collaboration, …

These preconditions met, a company is ready to integrate sustainability into its sourcing practices. In the case of supply chain, active leadership by the procurement management is key to implement the company’s requirements. A shared understanding of how value is created by becoming more sustainable help to anchor the set sustainable procurement strategy. In this sense, the company needs to communicate such requirements to the procurement department, who then interacts with the suppliers. Another best practice is the integration of sustainability goals into supplier performance reviews.

Finally, progress has to be constantly reported in order to demonstrate credibility. Results should be communicated to both suppliers and buyers. To ensure transparency throughout the supply chain, it is important to communicate such results publically. Indeed, clients of the company might also want to want to know what happens in the upstream supply chain. In this sense, the use internationally recognized reporting standards such as GRI, CDP or others is recommended in order to achieve comparability between companies.

For more information, contact us at info@dfge.de or visit our page on Sustainability Management.

Looking for help and support for your EcoVadis participation?


EcoVadisIn winter 2016, we announced our partnership with EcoVadis, a company linking suppliers and buyers in a collaborative platform where suppliers are assessed on their sustainability performance. We will provide various levels of support to organizations answering EcoVadis.

1. Response check
Your company already has answered several questionnaires, but is still unsure of the format of documents, or the quality of the answers. DFGE will connect to the EcoVadis platform and check if the format or document match the type of questions, if some answers and references are missing, if the question paths are the most appropriate. For instance, if your company declares that it has a policy in place regarding Health and Safety, but the attached document is in fact results from a health and safety audit, we will indicate that this document is not the needed reference here, as it covers actions, and will briefly explain what a policy is.
In this sense, organizations can easily improve their performance as we would have identified the wrong references, and companies can easily add the right supporting documents.

2. DFGE complete: questionnaire and improvement plan
For companies who have never gone through an EcoVadis assessment, or who had several times but wish to quickly improve, we offer the EcoVadis support complete package. With this product, we will
– Make a prioritized list of documents that can be provided, to make sure that everything available has been provided
– Answer the questionnaire ourselves, by making sure documents are well referenced in the right format, by taking the right question paths
– Once the scorecard is published, we will launch a prioritized improvement plan, by improving the existing documentation, and by suggesting you solutions to address new improvement areas. For instance, if your company has an improvement area called “basic policy in human rights”, we will review the policy to know which topics are missing, to check if commitments are company-specific enough and then we will suggest improvements accordingly

3. DFGE services
We offer free webinars, one for Beginners on a weekly basis, one for Repeaters on a monthly basis. For those who want to completely master EcoVadis principles, we organize training sessions where theoretical principles will be put into practice by the attendees.
We are also willing to provide any support to your company, for instance byhelping addressing the improvement areas. For instance, we can assess your carbon footprint or help you take part in UNGC, among many others.

For a detailed description of our products, consult our Press Release: http://dfge.de/en/answering-ecovadis-expert-support-now-available/  or our webpage http://dfge.de/en/ecovadis/ , or feel free to contact us at info@dfge.de

Discover the linkage between GRI and CDP


CDP GRI

Main findings

All information requested in the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire can be reused in a GRI G4-based report, on the condition that the climate change related Aspects[1] (Energy, Emissions, Products and Services, Public Policy) have been identified as material. Material means that the topic is relevant for the company while has impacts on the stakeholder that the company tries to manage.

Under GRI Guidelines, there are two types of information that can be reported: General Disclosures, giving information about the overall economic, social and environmental background, and Specific Disclosures, under which organizations report on the topics/aspects considered material.

In this sense, G4 General Disclosures have a broader meaning than the CDP corresponding questions, and can then be reused in the CDP questionnaire and adapted to the context of climate change, while the other way around is trickier, as CDP questions are only linked to climate change.

For the Standard Disclosures, we recommend to directly consult the document. All details and matching tables can be found here: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/GRI-G4-CDP-2016-Climate-Change-Linkage-Document.pdf?dm_i=4J5,4509P,LP4UW0,F1FH5,1

Linking standards: a relevant reporting approach

In the linkage document, GRI and CDP explain the importance of aligning on international recognized standards and to merge them whenever possible. We at DFGE also support this approach through our Sustainability Intelligence Model. Indeed, documents can be reused to answer different requests, which can be time-saving for companies. It is important to answer through recognized standards as they are usually multi-stakeholder and independent, assuring a representation of all parties in an objective and unbiased way. Moreover, standards are a tool to compare the performances of various companies and to identify best practices.

How to answer CDP or GRI

CDP and GRI are sustainability reporting frameworks, meaning that companies need to implement some actions before being able to report anything. DFGE can help you define and implement your actions. Also, DFGE can support you through the CDP process via assessing your carbon footprint, answering the questionnaire or performing a response check. In addition, DFGE can define the report contents according to GRI. Please feel free to contact us for more information at info@dfge.de

More information about CDP:  https://www.cdp.net/en-US/Pages/HomePage.aspx
More information about GRI: https://www.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

[1] The word Aspect is used in the GRI Guidelines to refer to the list of subjects covered by the Guidelines (e.g., Energy, Emissions, Products and Services)

DFGE has just signed a 3-year partnership agreement with CDP


CDPToday, 22nd of April is Earth day. To support environmental initiatives, DFGE is happy to extend the fruitful partnership with CDP for the next three years.

A partnership aiming at helping respondent companies

DFGE has been an official Silver Climate Change Consultancy Partner of CDP since 2014, to support companies responding to CDP. DFGE and CDP have now signed a 3-year partnership contract to extend this collaboration. DFGE believes that CDP is one of the key drivers in climate change reporting, and thinks that the initiative will keep growing as the topic keeps becoming more important for stakeholders.

Indeed, climate has been gaining momentum over the past few years, to the point that the UNFCCC countries opted for the Paris Agreement in 2015.

To help companies take part in CDP, DFGE supports companies by providing official response checks following CDP methodology. DFGE can help companies formalize an environmental management system and can assess the carbon footprint of any organization. DFGE’s purpose is to support respondent companies in the best possible way.

To read the full press release, please consult: http://dfge.de/en/dfge-cdp-partnership/

A partnership beneficial for CDP and DFGE

DFGE is also happy to help extend CDP programs, by raising awareness on them and providing technical feedback. In exchange, CDP provides an in-depth training on CDP methodology. DFGE and CDP collaboration also features co-hosting of webinars, participation to events, promotion of partners on communication and more.

For instance, DFGE took part to the CDP DACH Spring event. In this sense, DFGE was aware of new methodology changes, could support CDP and could meet CDP respondents. DFGE had the opportunity to take part in a workshop called “Market Place”.

The Market place aims at empowering attendants with quick knowledge. There were 4 sessions of 15 minutes, so participants could cover 4 topics among the 12 workshops.

Marketplace

DFGE 15-minute session focuses on the link between CDP and SDGs. By taking part in CDP, organizations already help addressing the SDGs, the new 2030 sustainability agenda powered by the United Nations. DFGE also gave tips and recommendations to companies to tackle such objectives and show how they are already part and parcel of the companies’ sustainability strategies and actions.

For more information, please contact us at info@dfge.de

 

Towards more due diligence in the supply chain


Background story: The majority of our blog posts deals with CSR topics; we write about the latest developments in this field and try to relate it to a company’s daily business. Our background stories have a different perspective: Here, we explain trends, scientific background and societal implications of corporate sustainability – sometimes with a personal touch.

 

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Due diligence in the supply chain

Our partner EcoVadis recently hosted the Sustain event. EcoVadis unlocks the power of transparency in the supply chain, enabling buyers and suppliers to communicate on the results of a sustainability assessment through a collaborative platform. As such, EcoVadis offers a tool for sustainable procurement management, e.g. including social and environmental criteria within the supply chain. This topic has gained so much momentum over the past few years that it is now the object of legislation.  We try to explain thisphenomenon in this blog article, while describing solutions for companies faced with such issues.

Lack of transparency in the supply chain with outsourced impacts

Outsourcing has been growing for the past two decades. According to Deloitte, “the last two decades have been a significant rise in offshoring to external service providers”[1], though a small portion of companies are bringing some outsourced functions back to their home country. In this sense, the environmental and social impacts of production are now still mainly located in the supply chain level. Some events showed that the risks still exist and that scandals impacted the whole supply chain.

In April 2013, the Rana Plaza building collapsed, leaving more than 1,100 casualties and thousands of people injured in Bangladesh[2]. This building housed five factories for the garment industry. This disaster was covered by the media and shed light on the fact that clients don’t know what happen in their supply chain, and that basic safety rules and laws are not applied there. According to the Guardian, “investigators say several factors contributed to the building’s collapse: it was overloaded with machines and generators, constructed on swampy land, and the owner added floors in violation of the original building plan”.[3]

The same year, Europe was stained by the scandal of horsemeat, where horsemeat was sold as beef, showing the lack of transparency within a globalized supply chain. Many other examples could be found in this sense, but our point here is that there is a need for companies to tackle somehow these issues in their supply chain, for the suppliers’ sakes as well as theirs and their clients. [4]

Legislation as a driver for companies to tackle these issues

After these scandals, governments decided to act and to boost companies. Here are a few developments from the past three years.

Since May 2015, companies responding to certain criteria need to publish a statement on the actions they take to prevent slavery and human trafficking, according to the UK Modern Slavery Act.

In the US, the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act, some companies need to disclose in their websites the company’s actions to prevent such abuses.

France is trying to do the same, the bill on due diligence is still in validation by the government instances[5].

In case of non-compliance, some actions can be taken. In any case, companies will suffer from brand-damage, pressure from stakeholders, potential lawsuits …

These developments show that working conditions can be at risk in the supply chain, and that client companies have the power to investigate and require some practices from their suppliers. How can they tackle such issues?

Due diligence in the supply chain: solutions

First we recommend companies to edict clear requirements and made commitments, in the shape of public policies and statements

Then, companies need to let their suppliers/subcontractors know these requirements, so that they can act accordingly.

Suppliers don’t have the same level of risk according to their location, activity or size. We suggest companies to proceed to a risk-mapping. According to the level of risks, actions can be taken.

For instance, suppliers can be asked to be evaluated on their sustainability management system, for instance through EcoVadis or other sustainability assessments platforms.

For suppliers with high-risk level, we recommend having regular audits there, on sustainability topics, made by third parties, and by some members of the companies.

Then, what is key is collaboration and transparency. It is important that buyers, who are in touch with suppliers on a daily basis, are aware of such requirements, to explain them and pass it over to the suppliers. In this sense, we suggest different tools and approaches: training of buyers, dedicated team to help buyers in this sense; business reviews between suppliers and buyers, supplier scorecard including such topics, …

Reaching to your supplier is one thing. Reaching to the supplier of your supplier is another thing. In this sense, we recommend the use of EcoVadis as it enables to cascade requirements in the supply chain. Indeed, clients have their suppliers rated on their sustainability management system, including on how the suppliers handle their supplier sustainability management. Then, if the suppliers improve their own sustainable procurement practices, companies already reach another level in their supply chain.

Finally, we think that collaboration and knowledge sharing is key to success. We advise companies to train their suppliers, raise awareness through handbooks and code of conduct, organize seminars etc.

Last but not least, partnership with a local NGOs can help address the issues on the field and have more visibility on what is happening in the high-risk zones.

We know that it is hard for companies to reach such levels of the supply chain. However, we hope that this articles gives inspiration to solve such complex issues. If you are interested in solutions and consulting services, please contact us at info@dfge.de or consult our EcoVadis webpage.

Resources:

Article on latest regulations http://www.supplychainbrain.com/content/single-article-page/article/the-emerging-compliance-hot-topic-for-2016-regulations-regarding-trafficked-coerced-labor/

UK Modern Slavery Act: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/30/contents/enacted

 California Transparency in Supply Chain Act: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/164934.pdf

Sources:

[1] P.5, Deloitte’s 2014 Global Outsourcing and Insourcing industry http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/strategy/us-2014-global-outsourcing-insourcing-survey-report-123114.pdf

[2] http://www.cleanclothes.org/safety/ranaplaza

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/world/rana-plaza

[4] http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/horsemeat/

[5] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mandatory-human-rights-due-diligence-government-1-devoir-poitevin?trk=hp-feed-article-title-share

Discover DFGE’s new website!


Dear readers, we are happy to inform you that we have changed our website design and content. You can find it here:  http://dfge.de/en/. In this article we briefly explain the main changes and how we hope you will benefit from our relaunched website.

A new structure based on our Sustainability Intelligence approach

DFGE’s Sustainability Intelligence approach aims at leveraging the life of companies by reusing existing and available data to reusethem for other standards, and making the link through them.

DFGE_solutions_explained_large

In this sense, our offer is built around Sustainability management: we transform existing data (calculation), we include them in sustainability reporting frameworks (reporting). We also help companies plan their strategy, implement their actions and review these actions with dedicated KPIs. All these processes are documented and can be reused in calculation and reporting – this is Sustainability Intelligence.

Thus our website is structured around calculation, reporting and management.

New pages following new market trends

Since 1999, DFGE has been specializing in carbon footprint reporting and environmental management. Over the past few years, DFGE has noticed increasing participation in CSR standards such as United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), EcoVadis, GRI[1],… DFGE has extended its competencies to better support companies in their current challenges, from CO2 emissions to a broader CSR/sustainability strategy.

In this sense, you can find new webpages on our EcoVadis and GRI support.

We have just signed a partnership with EcoVadis and will provide response checks of questionnaires as a starter package. The complete package features a fill-in questionnaire and a prioritized CSR improvement strategy with dedicated feedback on current documents and practices.

Our GRI support enables us to help companies identify their main impacts and topics of interest, and to prepare the contents of CSR report following the GRI G4 Guidelines.

A more visual website

To ensure a nice visitor experience, we made sure to structure the pages in different blocks and to reduce the amounts of texts and. For instance, the background information about a dedicated standard can be found at the bottom of the page, if you decide to expand the text blocks.

new website

Blog integration

Our blog is moving and will be integrated in our new website – for the next couple months we will feed all new blog articles here on our external blog and in parallel on our new blog at http://dfge.de/blog/

There will be a special announcement for the final move – we hope you will like the new blog style.

We would be happy to receive your feedback at info@dfge.de. Happy reading!

[1] See our blog entry on growing CSR trends for more information