Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Code of conduct sets out rules for CSR profession

March 2010

The first ever code of conduct for corporate responsibility practitioners was unveiled last month.

The voluntary code, which can be used by CSR professionals across the globe, has been produced by the UK-based Corporate Responsibility Group (CRG), a network with 104 corporate members, including Alliance Boots, AstraZeneca, British American Tobacco, ExxonMobil, IBM, Kellogg's, Nike, and Sky.

The one-page document states, among other things, that practitioners ought to keep up to date with 'current professional and technical knowledge', should be prepared to share the expertize they have gained with fellow professionals, and must 'think long term' about the issues they deal with at work.

Although one of their primary aims must be to 'motivate others and demonstrate in practice how businesses can behave in a socially responsible manner' the code warns CSR practitioners that they also need to 'recognise what other agendas and established processes may be in force' in their organization.

On a more personal level, it says practitioners ought to 'demonstrate integrity, honesty and ethical and appropriate behaviour in all business, professional and related personal activities' and be transparent about any special relationship, business interest or conflict of interest 'that might unduly influence their judgement'. They must also always act within the law, contractual obligations and regulations.

The code has been approved by the CRG board, which has reserved the right to suspend the membership of a company if an individual CSR professional within that company fails to live up to its spirit.

However, the CRG will also be encouraging others in non-member businesses to follow the code.

Mike Kelly, chair of CRG, said: 'We recognise that many of our members will already be adhering to professional codes and company guidelines, but the hope is to provide an additional point of reference that recognises the unique role of the corporate responsibility practitioner.'

He added that the code aims to show CSR professionals 'how to balance their personal values and beliefs with the corporate values of their employer' - and to make suggestions about 'what happens when their concept of "doing the right thing" doesn't tally with the direction a company is going in'.

However the CRG has emphasised that the code provides 'guidance on the spirit of actions, rather than on specific behaviour'.

It was created by the group in consultation with its members, as well as other key individuals and organizations in the corporate responsibility arena. A first draft was circulated privately last summer. The code will be revised and updated as time goes on.

Corporate Responsibility Group | Global | Standards

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