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United Nations Global Compact LEAD Initiative

The United Nations Global Compact was launched in 2000 in response to then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s call to business leaders to work with the UN to “initiate a global compact of shared values and principles, which will give a human face to the global market.” From an initial group of 44 companies at the launch in 2000, it now has over 7000 participating signatories around the world from the private sector.

To challenge and support leading companies in reaching higher levels of corporate sustainability performance, Global Compact LEAD was launched in January 2011 as a leadership platform within the Global Compact.

LEAD has been built around a commitment by participating companies to move forward with implementation of the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership to further advance corporate sustainability as a universal norm.

The Blueprint identifies criteria for leadership practice in three distinct but overlapping dimensions:

  • Implementing the Ten Principles of the Global Compact into Strategies and Operations;
  • Taking Action in Support of Broader UN Goals; and
  • Engaging with the UN Global Compact.

LEAD launched with 55 participating Global Compact signatory companies, with a commitment to a review at the conclusion ofa two year pilot phase. Participating companies commit to certain actions by joining LEAD:

  • Implementing the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership
  • Leading the Global Compact with strong engagement at the local and global levels
  • Submitting a Communication on Progress (COP) at the Advanced Level of the Global Compact’s Differentiation Programme.
  • Sharing their learnings and outcomes with the broader group of 7000 UN Global Compact participants.
  • Participating companies make an annual financial contribution to support the activity of the LEAD platform.

PRME selected ABIS, a PRME co­convenor, and Ashridge Business School, a PRME signatory and ABIS member to coordinate the review. The research for the review involved a combination of one­to­one, semi­structured interviews, a quantitative online survey, participant observation and documentary analysis.

Results Of The Review

At the conclusion of the first two years it is clearly the view of most companies participating that the Global Compact benefits from having a leadership platform within the initiative, and that LEAD should continue in some shape or form beyond its two year pilot phase.

The following priorities were identified for LEAD:

  • Strengthen mechanisms for business to systematically engage with the UN system
  • Lead change in the rest of the Global Compact
  • Better management of LEAD workstreams, with clearer and more action­ oriented objectives
  • Foster higher levels of participation and be clear about how adding value

Read the full review report

Business Schools Involved In The Review

Ashridge Business School (UK), Korean University Business School (Korea), American University of Cairo (Egypt), ISTUD Business School (Italy), St Petersburg University Graduate School of Management (Russia), Beijing Normal University (China), Bentley University (USA), Fundaçao Dom Cabral (Brazil), IESE Business School (Spain), University of Stellenbosch Business School (South Africa), TiasNimbas Business School (Netherlands)

 For more info, contact Simon Pickard

 UN Global Compact LEAD - Pilot Phase Review FINAL.pdf


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