In 2016, BCD Travel became the first travel management company to earn EcoVadis gold, the highest level granted by the internationally recognized sustainability rating firm. Industry news outlet The Beat recently explained EcoVadis’ rating process and detailed BCD’s success, interviewing Sharon Dirks, who played a major role in the TMC’s effort.
Dirks coordinates BCD’s global corporate social responsibility program. It’s based on principles that align with what EcoVadis measures: environmental impact, labor and human rights, fair business practices and sustainable procurement.
Get prepped: Plan to attend CSR sessions at GBTA
At the upcoming Global Business Travel Association conference July 15-19 in Boston, you’ll get expert advice for building a robust global corporate social responsibility program. Mark your calendar for these sessions:
Sponsored by BCD Travel
July 16 | 1:30-2:45 p.m. EDT
Kathy Jackson, EVP, BCD Travel
July 18 | 9:30-10:30 a.m. EDT
At a recent conference in Paris, Dirks offered a few strategic tips on how to build a successful CSR program. Here’s an overview of her advice:
- Get executive buy-in. Ensure company leaders support corporate social responsibility and incorporate it into your company’s global business strategy. “Without management support you won’t be successful. It’s an important component of today’s business landscape, and it’s also an important competitive advantage. Explain that to your executives,” Dirks advised. BCD’s EcoVadis gold rating places the TMC in the top 1% of suppliers assessed in its industry category and the top 2% of all suppliers assessed by EcoVadis. “That achievement helps us win business from companies that also are focused on CSR.”
- Create a cross-functional CSR leadership team. BCD has an executive CSR committee made up of leaders from global client management, human resources, finance, business ethics, technology and supplier relations. Dirks and the CSR team are guided and assisted by committee members. “They not only lead and support our efforts, but also help us get the data we need to meet requirements for assessments and reporting,” Dirks said.
- Engage and educate employees. BCD uses promotional and educational campaigns designed to get employees involved in CSR. The first campaigns mainly focused on philanthropic projects. Today, there’s a steady stream of information covering all aspects of CSR—from support of environmental activities and local charitable fundraisers to security awareness and employee appreciation events. Messages come not only from executives, but also from lower-level employees who encourage colleagues to “live” CSR in the workplace every day. The company also uses its global online learning platform for training on topics such as health and safety, information security, ethical business practices and human rights.
- Be global and local. Creating a global CSR program was BCD’s biggest challenge. “Countries and regions have different laws related to the workplace, the environment and other aspects of CSR, so rolling out companywide standards was a big effort,” Dirks explained. It’s essential to have employees in each country committed to the success of a global program. At BCD, some of those employees support the effort on behalf of their functional areas, such as human resources. Others are simply committed to CSR. “One of our most active CSR coordinators is a travel agent who is a firm believer in the company’s sustainability goals,” Dirks said.
- Tap into industry best practices. Assessments like EcoVadis’ are designed to reflect top CSR concerns across industries and countries. If you’re in doubt about which of your CSR efforts should get the most attention, start with those that EcoVadis focuses on. In addition, the Global Business Travel Association Foundation’s Sustainability in Travel Self-Assessment Tool (created in conjunction with BCD) measures 10 areas of travel program sustainability, identifying strengths and weaknesses and providing recommendations for improvement.
- Be realistic. “Don’t underestimate the effort and time involved in implementing a global CSR program. And don’t think you can cover the whole world at once,” Dirks advised. Plan a phased approach from the start.
Creating a successful global CSR program takes work, but the results are good for the planet and your business. “The BCD Travel brand is increasingly recognized for sustainability,” Dirks said. “It’s a distinction that’s a point of pride with our employees, helps us attract new hires and ensures we are the supplier of choice for companies that also place a high value on sustainable practices.”