The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Agrium promotes compliance and ethical business conduct

As one of the world’s leading providers of agricultural products, solutions and services, supplying growers with crop nutrients, crop protection, seed, agronomic and application services, Agrium tries to operate according to the highest standards of ethics and business integrity.

This case study is based on the 2014-2015 Sustainability Report by Agrium published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Abstract

As a key producer and distributor of agricultural services and products in North America, South America, Australia and Egypt, operating responsibly and with integrity is a top priority for Agrium. In order to promote compliance and ethical business conduct Agrium took action to:

  • promote ethical business behaviour through the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
  • promote compliance through a Compliance Hotline
  • fight bribery and corruption

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2014-2015 Sustainability Report Agrium identified a range of material issues, such as chemicals and crop protection, food supply and security, employee and contractor safety, diversity and inclusion, product stewardship, water use. Among these, promoting compliance and ethical business conduct stands out as a key material issue for Agrium.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process s of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Agrium engages with:   

Stakeholder Group
Communities
Customers
Employees
Shareholders
Society

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritize material sustainability topics Agrium conducted separate workshops for external stakeholders – including investment analysts, academia, suppliers, customers, NGOs, host communities and industry – and senior leaders at the company.

What actions were taken by Agrium to promote compliance and ethical business conduct?

In its 2014-2015 Sustainability Report Agrium reports that it took the following actions for promoting compliance and ethical business conduct:

  • Promoting ethical business behaviour through the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
  • Agrium’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics provides guidance to employees and Directors on how to deal with situations that involve conflict of interest, fair dealings, gifts, legal compliance and confidentiality. Both employees and Directors are offered refresher training on the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which is regularly reviewed and updated.
  • Promoting compliance through a Compliance Hotline
  • [tweetthis]Agrium’s confidential, 24-hour Compliance Hotline is available globally in 11 languages.[/tweetthis] Through the Compliance Hotline employees are able, without fear of retaliation, to report any violations of the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics or other company policies.  In 2015, Agrium addressed 38 inquiries made through the Compliance Hotline and the Human Resources service center.
  • Fighting bribery and corruption
  • Agrium assesses all current and potential operational jurisdictions for bribery and corruption risks. Additionally, in 2014-2015, all employees attended a training module on corruption prevention. Moreover, employees who work in higher risk areas, have to complete additional online and in-person anti-corruption training.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicators/Standards addressed in this case are:

1) G4-56: Describe the organization’s values, principles, standards and norms of behavior such as codes of conduct and codes of ethics – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-16 Values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior

2) G4-57: Report the internal and external mechanisms for seeking advice on ethical and lawful behavior, and matters related to organizational integrity, such as helplines or advice lines – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-17 Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethics

3) G4-58: Report the internal and external mechanisms for reporting concerns about unethical or unlawful behavior, and matters related to organizational integrity, such as escalation through line management, whistleblowing mechanisms or hotlines – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-17 Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethics

4) G4-SO4: Communication and training on anti-corruption policies and procedures the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Agrium, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

 

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