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Launched in 2000 the UNGC aims to harness the power of collective action in the promotion of responsible corporate citizenship. It is a framework for businesses committed to aligning their operations and strategies with the ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
In his statement of support for the UNGC, Marshalls’ CEO, Martyn Coffey notes how fundamental the UNGC framework is to Marshalls' approach to sustainability, "As I review this year’s Communication on Progress report I am deeply struck by how far we have travelled on our sustainability journey over the last six years; by how much we have experienced, benefited, grown and how fundamentally the ten principles are woven into the strands of Marshalls' DNA which orient and determine our business decisions."
He continued, "I recently read that according to UNGC there are five things that sustainable companies absolutely must do*. Firstly, and unequivocally, they must operate responsibly in alignment with the universal principles and take actions that support and strengthen society. Then, working to embed sustainability deep within, the business must commit at the highest level, report annually on progress, and take action to engage locally where they have presence.
I am proud to say without hesitation that Marshalls continues to demonstrate that it is a principled business. We work from micro to macro to strengthen society and build capacity. High level commitment is more than matched throughout the business in all quarters. We go to great lengths to improve, innovate, make progress and report on activity, and we leverage our resources and influence ensuring that we act locally in the appropriate manner."
Marshalls’ group marketing director, responsible for sustainability, Chris Harrop, was appointed UNGC UK Network Chair in January 2012. He added, "2015 is a key moment in time for business and the UN Global Compact to help shape the future priorities of the UN and what will be the much anticipated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015 the UN, in consultation with a broad range of stakeholder groups including business, is in the final stages of determining its future development framework and defining the post-2015 development agenda. The Global Compact continues to convey the voice of responsible business through these key intergovernmental processes."
Harrop went on to say, "Marshalls looks forward to the announcement of the SDGs later this year and to continue engaging in scalable and transformational partnerships aligned with them. We'll be continuing to focus upon essential global priority issues such as; climate change & energy; education; food and agriculture; governance and human rights; health; infrastructure and technology; peace and stability; poverty; water and sanitation; and women's empowerment."
The 2014 Communication on Progress details Marshalls’ activity in relation to the ten UNGC principles and highlights key areas for development throughout 2015 including Human Rights, Children’s Rights & Business Principles, Women’s Empowerment Principles and Anti-Slavery. There will also be great emphasis on Marshalls' partnership with UNICEF which is driving systemic change in the Indian sandstone industry.
Harrop concluded that Marshalls remained absolutely committed to sustainable business and that all of Marshalls’ activity was tightly focused upon maximising opportunities, meeting economic challenges and mitigating any risks.
Marshalls is actively seeking broader feedback for its COPs from a wide range of stakeholders and the report contains details of how to submit feedback. Marshalls has already invited a range of stakeholders for their views and comments and has also made its COP available to the UNGC UK Network for peer review.