Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Covering the basics

Why choose Corporate Social Responsibility?

Constructionline supports Buyers on the responsible business agenda, providing information for Buyers on what accreditations and kitemarks suppliers have in place. Primarily the areas covered in basic and more advanced policies are:



Quality policies come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes as policy statements, sometimes as customer service policies or customer satisfaction programmes.

All Quality policies should be easy to read and publicly available or available on demand.

A basic quality policy/statement will normally include:

  • A commitment to meet customer expectations
  • A commitment to provide prompt, polite and knowledgeable service
  • Guarantees against work undertaken for up to 10 years
  • The opportunity to access references from other clients

For larger organisations there is often a commitment to meet the requirements of the Quality standard ISO 9001 which gives a much more structured approach to the Quality process but is often associated with products rather than services.

To go beyond a basic policy a supplier may include:

  • A positive commitment to getting it right the first time, on time, every time
  • To continually improve on performance and to meet or exceed customer expectations on an ongoing basis
  • To provide customer feedback forms for all activity and show follow up actions
  • To provide 100% feedback from clients
Health and safety

A Health and Safety Policy is a prerequisite for any supplier in the Construction industry. Companies with fewer than 5 employees don’t have to write them down. Despite the excellent efforts being made, the Construction industry has one of the highest accident rates.

All policies should clearly state what, when and how. They should set out who is responsible for specific actions.

The following basic requirements follow the guidance of the Health and Safety Executive.

A basic policy should see to:

  • Prevent accidents and cases of work-related ill health by managing the health and safety risks in the workplace
  • Provide clear instructions and information, and adequate training, to ensure employees are competent to do their work
  • Engage and consult with employees on day-to-day health and safety conditions
  • Implement emergency procedures – evacuation in case of fire or other significant incidents
  • Maintain safe and healthy working conditions, provide and maintain plant, equipment and machinery, and ensure safe storage/use of substances
  • Review and revise the policy as and when required.

Policies should look to meet all requirements of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and other relevant legislation.

To meet corporate responsibility, the HSE recommends the inclusion of stress:

CSR takes into account the interests of employees and their health and safety. This includes the effects of work on the development of work related stress. Effective management of health and safety is vital to employee wellbeing.

Employers should ensure that as part of their CSR they consider the health and safety of their employees, including work related stress. This may include, for example, using stress management programmes.


Equal Opportunities

An equality policy sets out an organisation’s commitment to tackle discrimination and promote equality and diversity in areas such as recruitment, training, management and pay.

Equality law does not require an equality policy, however, having one shows an organisation’s commitment to equality for workers, customers, clients or service users.  They are frequently asked for in a procurement process.

A basic policy should include:

An equality policy should apply to every aspect of employment, from recruitment through pay, access to facilities and employment benefits, discipline and grievance procedures and so on up to the end of the contractual relationship and beyond, for example, when you provide references. A policy might include:

  • Statements outlining an organisation’s commitment to equality
  • Identification of the types of discrimination that an employer is required to combat across the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation
  • Statements outlining the type of work environment an organisation aims to create, including what is and is not acceptable behaviour at work (also referring to conduct near the workplace and at work-related social functions where relevant)
  • Information about how the policy will be put into action, including how any breaches of the policy by workers will be dealt with, and how concerns and complaints will be handled, whether these come from workers or from customers, clients or service users
  • Who is responsible for the policy
  • How the policy will be monitored and reviewed
  • Details covering how the policy is linked in with other policies.

It is important that senior management in an organisation actively support the equality policy action plan. Having the person at the top endorsing it and showing commitment to it makes it far more likely that the whole organisation will get behind the plan.

To make sure an equality policy is put into practice, the EHRC recommends that there should be:

  • A demonstrable commitment to the policy from the very top of an organisation
  • The agreement, understanding and support of all staff and stakeholders (such as trade unions) for the policy’s implementation
  • Involvement of staff and stakeholders in the drafting of the policy
  • Extensive promotion of the policy both within an organisation and to potential workers, contractors and suppliers
  • Training provided to all staff to explain what the equality policy says and what it means to them
  • Incorporation of the policy into the organisation’s business strategy
  • An explicit willingness to challenge and, if necessary, discipline anyone not following the policy
  • Reference made to the equality policy in other policies within the organisation
  • An action plan in place which includes a commitment to a regular policy review. The review should examine progress in delivering the action plan and ensure that this information is shared.

Monitoring of equality-related issues

In order to properly fulfil their public sector equality duty and (in the case of those public authorities to whom they apply) the specific equality duties, public authority employers may be required to monitor matters such as recruitment, promotion, training, pay, grievances and disciplinary action by reference to the protected characteristics of their workers. Currently, there is no legal requirement on most organisations (including private sector businesses, smaller public bodies, voluntary and community sector organisations) to monitor and report on their staff profile. Nevertheless, doing so can help an employer to assess whether, for example, they are:

  • Recruiting employees who are disadvantaged or under-represented
  • Promoting people fairly whatever their protected characteristic
  • Checking that women and men’s pay is comparable in similar or equivalent jobs, or because the work they undertake is of equal value in relation to factors such as effort, skill and decision-making
  • Making progress towards the aims set out in their equality policy if they have one.

An environmental policy is now an essential rather than optional document defining how an organisation manages its environmental impact.

A policy should show an organisation is aware of its environmental impacts, relevant legislation, and outline actions to address these key areas. Here is a short guide to basic policy requirements and potential progression towards best practice.

All environmental policies should be easy to read and publicly available or available on demand.

A basic policy should include:
  • A commitment to continual environmental performance improvement
  • Recognition of compliance with all relevant environmental legislation & codes of practice
  • A commitment to environmental awareness training for employees
  • A formal monitoring and review process of environmental management on a regular basis
  • The signature of the Chief Executive or senior manager to demonstrate senior level commitment
  • A reference to waste and energy management as a minimum

A statement of commitment to (and stated timeline for) a formal Environmental Management System (EMS) such as ISO 14001 (including the step process BS855 for Small & Medium Enterprises – SMEs) or EMAS (Environmental Management Audit System) is also preferable for larger suppliers.

To go beyond a basic policy:

Suppliers may include specific detail relevant to their own operational or market targets. By placing targets in a formal, accessible document it offers additional accountability and commitment to managing environmental impacts including, for example:

  • Waste reduction
  • Carbon (or other greenhouse gas) emission reduction
  • Energy / fuel reduction
  • Water consumption
  • Transport Planning
  • Nuisance (noise / odour / light) reduction
  • Pollution
  • Solvent reduction
  • Raw material reduction including recycled content / reused material / sustainably sourced (FSC) etc.

In this area suppliers often do not have a formal policy document, instead, they usually come in the form of statements or as additional information about ‘added value’ or charitable activity.

This should not devalue any of this activity and buyers need to use their own knowledge of the area to assess the potential benefits of such activities.

All Community Policies, where held, should be easy to read and publicly available or available on demand.

Basic community activity will normally include:

A commitment;

  • to cause minimum disruption to local communities
  • to manage noise, dust etc
  • to meet transport requirements to avoid unsociable hours, school runs etc
  • to some form of charitable activity
  • to some form of community engagement

To go beyond a basic policy a supplier may want to extend their policies to cover:

  • Targeted activity to support a specific sector or area of disadvantage i.e. education, sport etc
  • A commitment to give a specific % of profit and/or time to charitable or community engagement
  • Partnerships, even on a small scale, with charities, local community organisations etc

Benefits of CSR in your supply chain

  • Helps to identify suppliers who are more aware of the CR agenda and are likely to be more proactive in terms of the environment, social benefits and health and safety.
  • This approach complements and assists ‘Best Value’ procurement programmes often preferred by Buyers
  • CR can help further ‘filter’ the tender process based on a services ‘plus’ model. i.e. in addition to the direct services being bought what additional benefits exist.
  • Supports Buyers in implementing Sustainable Procurement processes
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