“If It’s Not Public, You’re Not Doing It”
This blog is about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in general and especially about the disclosure of EcoVadis Premium Reports to employees as key stakeholders in the CSR management of their employer.
EcoVadis got a hook in its name. It probably is intended to stand for “CSR checked”. Employees are key stakeholders in the CSR management of their organization. How seriously can one take the green EcoVadis check mark if the employees of audited organizations cannot scrutinize the stories which their employers tell to EcoVadis and which EcoVadis turnes into a well structured “Premium Report”? That 15 pages profiles also contains a 3 pages chapter “LABOR PRACTICES & HUMAN RIGHTS (LAB)”.
Today, customers are not just buying products and services from their suppliers. Considering their reputation and their liabilities as purchasers and employers, especially large corporations are under immense pressure from stakeholders to be transparent about their sustainability and CSR practices, and this includes their supply chains.
EcoVadis’ business is reputation management. EcoVadis Members can subscribe to a “Premium Plan” where EcoVadis offers “customized 360° monitoring of CSR news and events” related their company.
Plans and prices: For being evaluated by EcoVadis in 2016, to my understanding suppliers (members) have to pay 480€ for a “Basic” one year plan. For a subscription to the “Premium” one year plan (with the 15 pages EcoVadis Premium Report) they pay 1200€. (The “Corporate” one year plan would cost them 4900€.) Subscribers to the Premium Plan get “Premium badges”, “certificates” and a “15 page profile” to proactively tell their “CSR success story” in their websites, PR, etc. Thus, EcoVadis does support the disclosure of the EcoVadis Premium Report (the profile) to the public. But only few companies to that.
250 young and mostly low payed employees helped EcoVadis in “expanding activity by more than 50% in 2015”. EcoVadis’ business is to evaluate the CSR management of suppliers in a higly standadized way. Around 25000 suppliers from more that 100 countries are registered with the EcoVadis platform, around 6000 “members” per year are evaluated. Buying from a supplier ranked high by EcoVadis gives purchasers a good conscience. They think, that they don’t need to put effort in audits of sites of suppliers awarded with “Gold” or “Silver”.
An EcoVadis Premium Report shows well structured and in detail what a supplier reported to EcoVadis. But there is a weak point: If the CSR of a supplier has been awarded with “Gold” by EcoVadis and if that supplier does not disclose the related EcoVadis Premium Report at least to the own employees, then there must be something wrong with the report. Employees are major stakeholders in their employer’s CSR management. The chapter “LABOR PRACTICES & HUMAN RIGHTS (LAB)” in the EcoVadis Premium Report is their’s.
It’s the GIGO Principle: EcoVadis offers an excellent framework for standardized CSI reporting. That shows that a well structured presentation of “soft” issues is possible. But if the input is flawed (garbage in), the output of a document audit (remote audit) will be flawed as well (garbage out). The good news: Suppliers assessed by EcoVadis can turn the weak point of the EcoVadis method into a strength. There already are suppliers who disclose their EcoVadis Premium Report to their employees as stakeholders of their CSR management system. They enable their own employees to scrutinize the EcoVadis Premium Report with their insider knowledge. Some suppliers even publish the report in the Internet.
If you call suppliers “courageous” because they disclose their EcoVadis Premium Report to their employees or even to the public, you still don’t really understand what CSR is about. Rather than being courageous, these companies simply walk the CSR talk and display best practice leadership – which regrettably is not fostered by EcoVadis yet. Suppliers with transparent CSR reporting deserve “Platinum”. As long as EcoVadis doesn’t provide such an award, I’ll try my best to take care of that.