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Home / case studies / Case study: How the World Bank is promoting a positive and respectful workplace in order to retain the world’s top talent

Case study: How the World Bank is promoting a positive and respectful workplace in order to retain the world’s top talent

Drawn from over 170 countries and speaking more than 140 languages, the World Bank’s diverse staff, numbering more than 12,000, are united by a common mission, to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and foster shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. It is the World Bank’s greatest resource, reflecting the rich diversity of its client base. The World Bank is thus committed to promoting a positive and respectful workplace that will help it retain the world’s top talent.

This case study is based on the 2015 Sustainability Review by the World Bank published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing. 

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Providing its nearly 12,000 staff with a working environment where conflict is addressed through the Bank’s sophisticated Internal Justice System and staff are encouraged to raise their concerns, so that they can be actively addressed, is a top priority for the World Bank. After identifying its most crucial impacts on its internal stakeholders, the World Bank took action to:

  • offer staff informal services for resolving issues, such as Respectful Workplace Advisors (RWAs), volunteer staff members trained to guide other staff and Ombuds Services
  • offer staff formal services for determining whether managerial decisions are consistent with a staff member’s terms of appointment or conditions of employment, such as Peer Review Services and the World Bank Administrative Tribunal
  • investigate allegations of staff misconduct through the Office of Ethics and Business Conduct Vice Presidency (EBC)
  • investigate allegations of fraud and corruption through the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) and
  • provide Internal Justice Services to Country Office staff

What are the material issues (most important impacts) the World Bank has identified?

In its 2015 Sustainability Review the World Bank identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, emissions, effluents and waste, market presence, occupational health and safety, human rights grievance mechanisms, local communities. However, with nearly 12,000 employees in more than 120 offices worldwide, united by a common mission – eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity in a sustainable manner –, promoting a positive and respectful workplace that will help it retain the world’s top talent is a key material issue for the World Bank. The table below provides a complete list of the material aspects identified by the World Bank:

ECONOMIC ·    1 ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

·    2 MARKET PRESENCE

·     3 INDIRECT ECONOMIC IMPACTS

ENVIRONMENTAL ·    4 ENERGY

·    5 BIODIVERSITY

·    6 EMISSIONS

·    7 EFFLUENTS AND WASTE

·    8 OVERALL

·    9 SUPPLIER ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

·    10 ENVIRONMENTAL GRIEVANCE MECHANISMS

SOCIAL: LABOR PRACTICES AND DECENT WORK

 

·    11 EMPLOYMENT

·    12 OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

·    13 TRAINING AND EDUCATION

·    14 DIVERSITY AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

·    15 LABOR PRACTICES GRIEVANCE MECHANISMS

SOCIAL: HUMAN RIGHTS

 

·    16 INVESTMENT

·    17 NON-DISCRIMINATION

·    18 CHILD LABOR

·    19 INDIGENOUS RIGHTS

·    20 HUMAN RIGHTS GRIEVANCE MECHANISMS

SOCIAL: SOCIETY

 

·    21 LOCAL COMMUNITIES

·    22 ANTI-CORRUPTION

·    23 GRIEVANCE MECHANISMS FOR IMPACTS ON

·    SOCIETY

FINANCIAL SECTOR SUPPLEMENT ·    24 PRODUCT PORTFOLIO

·    25 AUDIT

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 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.

It is crucial to remember that the stakeholders a company engages with when identifying and taking action on its most important impacts are those that can hold it back from reaching its objectives.

Key stakeholder groups the World Bank engages with:

Stakeholder Group
INTERNAL
Bank owners (shareholder governments)
Bank employees (internal staff)
EXTERNAL
Civil Society
Faith-based organizations
Academics
Foundations
Parliamentarians
Citizens impacted by projects
Private sector (including socially responsible investors)
Partnering agencies
International, national and local media

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

The World Bank reports that:

“The topics deemed relevant for disclosure were identified by assessing annual corporate priorities outlined by the institution’s Boards and President and by considering stakeholder input, as well as by ascertaining sustainability impacts of carrying out the Bank’s mission and strategy.”

Stakeholder feedback was gained through three key channels:

  • Country Opinion Survey
  • Civil society feedback and
  • Queries from investor research groups.

What actions were taken by the World Bank to promote a positive and respectful workplace that will help it retain the world’s top talent?

In its 2015 Sustainability Review the World Bank reports that it took the following actions for promoting a positive and respectful workplace in order to retain the world’s top talent:

  • Offering staff informal services for resolving issues

Staff issues can be resolved through various informal services, as long as staff seek help early. Using an informal procedure, 95% of cases are handled successfully and confidentially.

  • Respectful Workplace Advisors (volunteer staff members trained to guide other staff).
    Key facts:

    • [tweetthis]The World Bank has a total of 216 Respectful Workplace Advisors[/tweetthis]:
      • 183 in Country Offices where more than 15 staff operate
      • 33 located at headquarters, in Washington, D.C.
    • Respectful Workplace Advisors conducted 676 consultations with staff during 2015
  • Ombuds Services
    Key facts:

    • Ombuds Services are provided by 3 highly trained, experienced and independent from formal management full-time professionals
    • There are 2 Ombuds in Washington, D.C. and 1 in Bangkok
    • They respond to staff with confidential advice
    • They provide management:
      • with feedback about general trends that may be affecting staff at the World Bank
      • with recommendations for changes
    • At the request of the initiating staff member, Ombuds may facilitate, in some situations, informal conversations between staff and others.
    • There were773 consultations with staff by Ombuds during 2015.
  • Mediation Services
    Key facts:

    • Mediation services provide staff with an impartial third party who helps two or more participants better understand their issues, interests and needs.
    • 73% of cases that complete the mediation process are settled (those that are not withdrawn or closed by the mediator). The remaining cases may continue to other Internal Justice services. A final, binding agreement defines the specific terms reached by the parties involved, when a case is settled by mediation.
    • Mediation Services opened 168 cases during 2015.
  • Offering staff formal services for determining whether managerial decisions are consistent with a staff member’s terms of appointment or conditions of employment
    • Peer Review Services
      Key facts:

      • They include an independent review of managerial decisions, actions or inactions affecting a staff member.
      • The review determines whether the decisions were consistent with the staff member’s terms of appointment or conditions of employment.
      • A panel of trained volunteer staff peers conducts the review and may recommend that the Bank award relief to the staff member and/or take corrective measures.
      • The recommendation is sent to the line Vice President, who consults with the Vice President of Human Resources to reach a final decision.
      • 54 cases were brought to Peer Review Services in 2015 and the decision-makers accepted all of the Peer Review Panel’s recommendations.
    • The World Bank Administrative Tribunal
      Key facts:

      • It is the independent judicial forum of last resort for the resolution of cases alleging nonobservance of contracts of employment or terms of appointment.
      • 7 external judges make up the Tribunal, appointed for fixed terms.
      • Their decisions are final and binding (24 in fiscal 2015).
  • Investigating allegations of staff misconduct through the Office of Ethics and Business Conduct Vice Presidency (EBC)

Key facts:

  • EBC:
    • engages in training and communication on business conduct
    • provides advice on conflict-of-interest risks
    • investigates allegations of staff misconduct
  • EBC received 297 complaints about possible staff misconduct leading to 46 formal investigations during 2015.
  • The largest categories of allegations were:
    • harassment (32%)
    • non compliance with Staff Rules (23%)
    • abuse of authority (18%)
  • EBC investigations resulted in 29 substantiated cases. These were referred to the Bank’s Vice President of Human Resources for a determination of whether the matter constituted misconduct and of appropriate disciplinary measures.
  • Investigating allegations of fraud and corruption through the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT)

Key facts:

  • The INT investigates allegations of:
    • fraud and corruption in World Bank-supported activities (external investigations)
    • significant fraud and corruption involving Bank staff and vendors (internal investigations)
  • The INT pursues sanctions against firms and individuals who have engaged in sanctionable misconduct by debarment. Debarments:
    • prevent these parties from participating in future Bank-financed projects
    • serve as a deterrent to other potential wrongdoers
  • During 2015:
    • the INT received 323 complaints about possible fraud and corruption in World Bank-financed projects
    • these complaints led to 99 new investigations
  • Allegations of possible misconduct were reported by:
    • 25 government officials in countries of operations
    • 89 Bank Group staff
  • During 2015 the investigations that substantiated sanctionable misconduct involved:
    • 61 projects
    • 93 contracts worth about $523 million
  • Providing Internal Justice Services to Country Office staff

The World Bank’s Country Office staff were historically underserved by Internal Justice Services.

Key facts:

  • During the past 5 years, the World Bank’s Internal Justice System has focused on outreach to staff located in Country Offices.
  • One hundred eighty-three Respectful Workplace Advisors and one of the Ombuds are located outside of Washington, D.C.
  • Mediation Services has a network of 26 professional mediators, of which 20 are located outside of Washington, D.C.
  • Staff working in Country Offices represent:
    • 75 percent of the caseloads for Respectful Workplace Advisors
    • 42 percent of Ombuds Services
    • 35 percent of Mediation Services
  • At headquarters and in Country Offices, Internal Justice Services:
    • conducts presentations designed:
      • to introduce staff to the Internal Justice Services
      • to help new Country directors and managers understand how these services support the mission of the Bank
    • Internal Justice Services also provides trainings, some of which are delivered to the volunteer Respectful Workplace Advisors and Peer Reviewers.
    • 963 staff in DC and Country Offices received “Conflict Competencies” training (during 2010-2015).

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-LA16: Number of grievances about labor practices filed, addressed, and resolved through formal grievance mechanisms – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 103-2 The management approach and its components

4) G4-SO3: Total number and percentage of operations assessed for risks related to corruption and the significant risks identified – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 205-1 Operations assessed for risks related to corruption

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by the World Bank, located at the links 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 following links:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22727/Global0Reporti0ive00GRI00index02015.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (World Bank 2015 GRI Index)

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22550/WBAR2015Appendix.pdf#GRIindex

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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