For those I’m connected with on LinkedIn chances are you may have seen this news already (apologies!), but I thought an achievement such as McConnell Dowell (in its Australian operations at least) becoming Signatories to the UN Global Compact was well worth noting here on my blog.
What is the UN Global Compact anyway?
The UN Global Compact is a voluntary global initiative promoting and supporting the development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainable and responsible corporate policies and practices. Launched in 2000, it is the largest corporate responsibility initiative in the world.
Becoming a Signatory to the Global Compact carries significant weight to it and not something that is to be undertaken lightly. Signatory organisations are required to have a Letter of Commitment endorsed and signed by the very highest authorities, namely Chief Executives, committing to the Global Compact and the principles it stands for, embedding them in the fabrics of their organisations. This is a public statement and commitment – check out McConnell Dowell’s letter here: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc/participants/109091-McConnell-Dowell-Constructors-Aust-Pty-Ltd
So what does this mean then and why is it important?
As a Signatory McConnell Dowell is publicly aligning with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take actions in support of UN goals, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
McConnell Dowell, and our highest level of leadership, is committing to making the UN Global Compact and its principles part of the McConnell Dowell strategy, culture and day-to-day operations of the company.
So yes, that’s one layer of its importance (and kind of reiterating what I said in the paragraph above).
In addition to this it’s also important as it means that progress is being made! Progress in terms of greater understanding and awareness of sustainability and the key issues impacted by and impacting on the infrastructure and construction sector. Progress in terms of understanding the impacts an organisation can have in the wider world, that it doesn’t sit in isolation and can play its part, directly and indirectly in terms of influencing and working with others, to achieve sustainable development outcomes. Progress in terms of understanding of the value that committing to sustainability and embedding it within core business strategy can bring.
As a construction organisation we are very much a “doing” organisation, and as such construction organisations are a significant step in the development of sustainable infrastructure and resilient and sustainable communities. Both of these aspects have their own UN Sustainable Development Goals that we can contribute directly to, but there are others Goals that we can play a part in too – diversity, gender equality, health and wellbeing and decent work to name a few.
I have felt for a long time that construction organisations are an important player in achieving such goals in terms of the implementation and realisation on the ground, as it were, of years and sometimes decades of strategic planning. I’ve also felt for some time that business has a significant part to play in realising sustainable development goals, as places where creativity, given the right conditions, management and governance, can really thrive and produce innovative solutions. With appropriate governance, the boundaries of commercial realities can push and be a catalyst for creativity, rather than stymie it. Becoming Signatories means we become part of a collective, working with others, actively seeking to further sustainable development goals, and contributing our part within that.