Social responsibility starts within the organisation

By SeeNews team

Alessandro Romei, Regional Manager EMEA, RINA
Alessandro Romei, Regional Manager EMEA, RINA


Q: In today’s tough economic climate what is business motivation to be socially responsible?

A: Society at large has been, is and will be the biggest possible market, so it makes sense for businesses to cater to society as a whole and not to their own self-interest. Businesses no longer talk about brands: they talk about image and reputation. Reputation is the projection of a brand over a longer period of time. It is the most valuable asset that distinguishes the companies with a sustainable development from those riding the wave. Being socially responsible creates goodwill and positive reputation. You become a preferred supplier in the eyes of society and it entrusts its needs to your business. This is your source for sustainable growth.

Q: Are there any other benefits apart from creating a positive image?

A: Social responsibility attracts talent. Social companies become the preferred place to work and can pick the best specialists. Those companies have the lowest human capital turnover. A good work environment is the only viable way to bring about a new modus operandi that enables the multiplication of benefits for all, while reducing social costs that derive from poor management and bad entrepreneurial choices. As I said, the public is the largest market: a public boycott can ruin a company in weeks. By contrast, people trust, respect and buy from socially responsible companies.

Q: Many people believe that social responsibility is just a PR stunt. Is it enough to support the odd initiative here and there to be considered socially responsible?

A: Definitely not. Businesses must be socially responsible to their employees in the first place. The international social accountability standard SA8000 defines the desired social climate in a company: starting from the strict abolishment of child labour and going as far as freedom of association and collective bargaining. It also insists on remuneration that is above the average for the industry within the country. Only after creating social justice among its own employees can businesses support external initiatives and insist on similar rules among their suppliers.

Q: Is RINA accredited to deliver social accountability certification?

A: There are a few certification bodies that are authorised by the Social Accountability Accreditation Service (SAAS) to assess organisations and issue accredited social accountability certificates. RINA is one of these certification bodies. Being a non-profit organisation, this is a natural fit for us. RINA is a real social company, in which the well-being of the employees and creating value for society is more important than any profit or short term benefit.

Q: Is SA8000 the only social assessment that RINA is performing?

A: RINA is involved in many other third- and second-party initiatives. We perform ethical and social audits on behalf of our clients of their suppliers. Many world leading corporations have their own ethical and social codes of conduct and they expect from their suppliers to uphold them. As a nonprofit body we have very reasonable fees, which makes us the preferred choice in the almost 50 countries covered by our office network. We perform audits on behalf of Carrefour, Metro, Adidas, Esprit, Etam, Levi’s, Burberry, Unilever and many others, either on the basis of their own ethical and social compliance criteria or on the basis of established frameworks, such as BSCI, WRAP, SMETA, etc. Our approach is to facilitate the implementation of non-bureaucratic management solutions by supporting relationships within the organisations.

Q: For what other standards is RINA giving out certification?

A: Virtually all standards in all sectors. We are one of the few certification bodies that can deliver a complete solution: we certify products, systems, processes and personnel. Our marine surveyors are all over the world. We have full accreditation by several accreditation bodies. We are licensed by the Italian Ministry of Environment to supply services in the field of emission trading. Our clients include companies such as Eni, Fiat, SAP, Volvo Penta, Telecom Italia, KPMG, Enel and E.ON, and practically all Italian public institutions. We recently concluded a contract to certify the Municipality of Sofia in Bulgaria.

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