CSR Centre

Commitment . Sustainability . Responsibility

FAQs about UNGC

1. How do companies participate in the UN Global Compact?

As a voluntary initiative, the UN Global Compact seeks wide participation from a diverse group of companies. As a participant in the Global Compact, a company can adopt the Global Compact principles into day-to-day operations and undertake partnership projects in support of broad UN goals.
The Communication on Progress (COP) is an important demonstration of a participant’s commitment to the Global Compact and its principles. Failure to provide a COP will result in a non-communicating or inactive status for a participant – a necessary measure to protect the integrity of the initiative. Companies have the added opportunity of participating in a number of Global Compact-sponsored initiatives and programs. More information on how to participate can be found here.

2. Who can join the Global Compact?

Participation in the Global Compact is open to any company that is serious about its commitment to work towards implementation of the Global Compact principles throughout its operations and sphere of influence, and to communicate on its progress. Properly constituted (under prevailing national law) companies from any industry sector are eligible for participation, except those companies involved in the manufacture, sale etc. of anti-personnel landmines or cluster bombs, companies that are the subject of a UN sanction or that have been blacklisted by UN Procurement for ethical reasons. Remaining in good standing requires communicating the company's progress in implementing the principles, respecting the Policy on the Use of the Global Compact Name and Logos, and a willingness to engage in dialogue under the integrity measures in the event that a matter is raised under those procedures.

3. How can non-governmental organizations and other non-business participants get involved?

Civil society and other non-business organizations can participate through engagement in policy dialogues, learning, Local Networks and Partnership Projects . Non-business participants are also encouraged to commit their organization to the ten principles and to report on progress made within their organization.

4. Is the Global Compact legally binding?

No. The Global Compact is a purely voluntary initiative designed to stimulate change and to promote good corporate citizenship and encourage innovative solutions and partnerships.

5. Is the Global Compact a substitute for existing regulatory approaches?

Absolutely not. The Global Compact helps to establish the business case for human rights, labour standards, environmental stewardship and the fight against corruption.

6. Why should a company that has already established its own code of conduct participate in the Global Compact?

The Global Compact offers a policy framework for organizing and developing corporate sustainability strategies while offering a platform to encourage innovative initiatives and partnerships with civil society, governments and other stakeholders.

7. Are there any financial obligations in becoming a Global Compact participant?

The Global Compact is a voluntary initiative, not a formal membership organization. As such, we do not collect any fees for core funding. The Global Compact only accepts core funding from government donors. However, the Global Compact encourages financial contributions and sponsorships to support non-core activities through the Foundation for the Global Compact.

8. I operate an organization with less than 10 employees. Can I still participate in the Global Compact?

Due to administrative constraints, organizations with less than ten direct employees (micro enterprises) will not be entered into the participant database. However, the Compact encourages micro enterprises to stay informed about all Global Compact activities via its website and the country network. Network information can be found in the Networks Around the World.

9. Can company subsidiaries join the Global Compact?

If the CEO of a company's global parent (holding, group, etc.) embraces the Global Compact by sending a letter to the UN Secretary-General, the Global Compact will post only the name of the parent company on the global list. Subsidiaries are encouraged to become active in the Global Compact country network of their host country.

10. What if my company chooses to no longer participate in the Global Compact?

The Global Compact is a voluntary initiative, and signatories are free to end their participation at any time. However, as the initial commitment to the Global Compact requires a letter from an organization's top executive, the same is expected in order to leave the initiative. The letter should be addressed to the UN Secretary-General and specify the organization's reasons for ending the commitment.

11. If there is no monitoring or enforcement, how does the Global Compact know that a company is truthfully portraying its actions?

The Global Compact is not a performance or assessment tool. It does not provide a seal of approval, nor does it make judgments on performance. Participants are expected to publish in their annual report or similar corporate report (e.g. sustainability report) a description of the ways in which they are supporting the Global Compact and its ten principles. This is known as the Communication on Progress.

12. Isn't there a danger of companies using UN logos and their affiliation with the UN and the Global Compact to "blue-wash" their operations that might actually be harming society?

The Global Compact has developed its own logo, which is used frequently in official Compact documents and publications. The use of the Global Compact image is strictly regulated and the same restrictions apply to its use as the general United Nations logo. Those policies are contained in the UN Business Guidelines, which can be accessed at http://www.un.org/partners/business/otherpages/guide.htm . In addition, following the recommendations made by the working group of the Secretary General's Advisory Council, the Global Compact adopted a set of integrity measures to safeguard the initiative and to avoid potential abuse. They also encourage companies to communicate at least annually to their stakeholders and the public at large on progress made in internalizing the principles within their own operations and activities. Global Compact participants are also expected to submit a short description and a web link to these communications to the Global Compact and/or Global Compact local network website. Participants that do not submit such a description within two years of signing on to the Global Compact will be removed from the list of participants until a submission has been made.

13. Can tobacco companies join the Global Compact?

The UN Global Compact Office supports the World Health Organization's efforts to raise awareness of the serious health effects of tobacco use. It thus actively discourages tobacco companies from participation in the initiative and does not accept funding from tobacco companies. It also does not permit tobacco companies to make presentations at any of its global events or to use the global brand in any other way to raise their profile. Since tobacco is a legal product whose use UN Member States have not yet outlawed, the Global Compact Office is not able to exclude tobacco companies from the initiative if they still wish to join. However, because the initiative is a learning and dialogue platform and does not endorse or offer a seal of approval for participating companies, it reinforces Government efforts to advance human rights, labour conditions, the environment and anti-corruption, including as these areas relate to the tobacco industry. Until Member States decide otherwise, tobacco companies should not be immune from the Global Compact's worldwide call to all companies to embrace, support and enact within their sphere of influence the set of core values in these areas. They should be expected to support and respect human rights, uphold labour standards, respect the environment and avoid corruption.

14. Should we report our progress on workplace related issues not addressed by the labour principles under "labour" or "human rights"?

Since the labour principles are also internationally proclaimed human rights, companies can choose whether to report on progress on working conditions and other labour issues under the heading of human rights or labour.