Expectation & Responsibility July 11th, 2008

Kyehwan RohBy Kyehwan Roh
Assistant Manager
Sustainability Management Team

In our lives, we all have multiple roles to play. Among them, one can be a father, a manager or a president of a club. Each of these roles has its own unique set of responsibilities and challenges.

Similarly, businesses take on a variety of roles. A company might be considered an employer, a seller, a partner, or a member of its local community and expectations for the company will differ based on individuals’ perspectives. Meeting the expectations of the wide range of corporate stakeholder groups, and promoting mutual prosperity, has come to be known as corporate social responsibility or CSR (a number of other definitions exist)

On July 1, 2008, Kia Motors’ CEO sent a letter expressing the company’s support for the UN Global Compact’s (UNGC) ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. By joining the UNGC, Kia has declared its commitment to CSR to the international community.

Many companies have already become members of the UNGC; however, many more still hesitate to join. This resistance stems from the fear of criticism that will ensue if the company fails to live up to its declared responsibility.

Despite such concerns, Kia Motors joined the UNGC in the hope that it will earn society’s respect by making an effort to acknowledge the importance of the UNGC’s ten principles.

It is important to understand that a company may fail to abide in full by these ten principles because of inevitable or unforeseen circumstances and that the importance of signing up lies in the intent and formal adoption of these principles throughout an organization. More companies will be inclined to join the UNGC and fulfill their social responsibility if they are encouraged and praised for their efforts instead of criticized for failure. It is important that we all support companies who commit and endeavor to abide by these guiding principles of corporate social responsibility.

The ten principles of the Global Compact are as follows:

Human Rights
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Labour Standards
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
Principle 4: The elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
Principle 5: The effective abolition of child labour; and
Principle 6: The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
Principle 8: Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and,
Principle 9: Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

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