The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Highland Gold promotes ethical business behaviour

Highland Gold is a well-established gold producer, with a world class Russian asset base of producing, development and exploration projects. Highland Gold is committed to implementing the highest ethical standards with regard to its stakeholders  Tweet This!, according to the best international practices.

This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by Highland Gold 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/ ESG/ 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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Firmly committed to high ethical standards of doing business across all of its businesses, Highland Gold has adopted a Code of Ethics and an Anti-Corruption Policy, which apply to every employee and all its business partners. In order to promote ethical business behaviour Highland Gold took action to:

  • promote human rights
  • implement an Anti-Corruption policy and a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
  • provide a whistleblowing hotline

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report Highland Gold identified a range of material issues, such as occupational health and safety management, greenhouse gas emissions, employee engagement and labour relations, materials and waste management. Among these, promoting ethical business behaviour stands out as a key material issue for Highland Gold.

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 reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process 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 Highland Gold engages with:                  

To identify and prioritise material topics Highland Gold engaged with its stakeholders through the following channels:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Investors ·       Half-yearly annual results conference calls

·       Industry and investment conferences

·       Regular meetings with institutional and private investors

·       Quarterly performance updates and regular news announcements

·       Website

Employees ·       Employee benefits packages

·       Ongoing training and development

·       Workforce posters and communications

·       Staff engagement surveys

·       Workers’ councils

·       Executive site visits and sessions

·       Business Ethics and Anti-Corruption policy

·       Group HSE policy

·       Group Cardinal Safety Rules

·       Established whistleblowing procedures

·       Publication of Modern Slavery Statement

Local communities ·       Community liaison working groups

·       Dialogue between site managers and local administration

·       Dialogue between the Regional Managing Directors and the regional administration

·       Sponsorship and support of “Day of the Metallurgist” and other events in local villages

Government and regulatory bodies ·       Social investment via social contracts with municipal administrations

·       Regulatory audits

·       Direct contact with regulators

·       Industry conferences

Suppliers and contractors

 

·       Contractual relationships

·       Training

·       Meetings

·       Compliance audits

·       Daily dialogue with contractors on site and through management team

Media and analysts ·       Press releases

·       Interviews and briefings around key announcements and events

·       Presentations

·       Site visits

What actions were taken by Highland Gold to promote ethical business behaviour?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report Highland Gold reports that it took the following actions for promoting ethical business behaviour:

  • Promoting human rights
  • Highland Gold’s commitment to upholding human rights goes together with its commitment to the health and safety of employees and environmental No violations of human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples, were recorded during the reporting period. Highland Gold also intends to develop a series of educational programmes, so as to heighten employees’ understanding of how to preserve cultural heritage and support local communities within Highland Gold’s areas of operation.
  • Implementing an Anti-Corruption policy and a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
  • Highland Gold has a clear Anti-Corruption policy and an internal Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. These extend across all of its businesses and activities, and apply to every employee and business partner. Both documents are available on Highland Gold’s corporate website. Regular audits are also carried out, to make sure ethics and anti-bribery standards are upheld. Additionally, Highland Gold does not make political contributions to any party and does not perform any political activity or sponsor any political parties, movements or public non-governmental organisations with any goals. Highland Gold does not participate in any activities sponsored by political parties or movements and similar provisions apply to representatives of political parties, movements, and candidates nominated by parties or movements, as well as self-nominated candidates. Charitable donations, grants and sponsorship, where no commercial advantage or other service is expected in return, are offered in line with Highland Gold’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
  • Providing a whistleblowing hotline
  • Highland Gold has a whistleblowing hotline which is available for employees and stakeholders to report violations anonymously. Every issue raised is initially reviewed by the Internal Audit and HR departments, and is forwarded to the relevant department. Whistleblowing events and any action are reported to the Audit and Risk Committee.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures

2) Disclosure 205-3 Confirmed incidents of corruption and actions taken

 

Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures corresponds to:

Disclosure 205-3 Confirmed incidents of corruption and actions taken corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Highland Gold, 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) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Highland Gold: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.