Northern Ireland Environment Agency Corporate Social Responsibility

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1 Northern Ireland Environment Agency Corporate Social Responsibility September 2011

2 Introduction This document has been prepared by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in line with general NICS policy, DOE Employer Supported Volunteering Policy and in association with Business in the Community (BITC). BITC are a Northern Ireland company who have extensive experience of developing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies for a wide range of public and private sector employers across Northern Ireland. Its aim is to provide NIEA staff with a coherent, structured and easily understood approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The approach to CSR outlined in the following documents builds on current activities by staff and links to NIEA s strategic goals. It includes: Key guiding principles for common, clear and consistent delivery of CSR activity; Implementation arrangements including proposed governance arrangements; Further guidance on NICS provisions with respect to staff involvement in CSR; and Proposals to monitor delivery of the policy and realise business benefits. The key policies included in this document are the Draft NIEA Corporate Social Responsibility Policy which is supported by an Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) Policy and a Charitable Giving (CG) Policy. In the development of these policies the NIEA Strategy Group consulted staff via an online survey of staff voluntary activities and charitable giving in March NIEA Trade Union representatives have been consulted in the development of CSR policies for the Agency and the attached policies approved by the NIEA Board members in August Caroline Barry Northern Ireland Environment Agency Strategy Group 8 th September

3 NIEA Corporate Social Responsibility Governance & Structures John McMillen Chief Executive NIEA Board Regular reporting NIEA CSR Steering Group Support Advice Guidance External Organisational Support Supporting structures ESV Delivery (CSR Co-ordinator) NIEA Charities Committee Supporting Policies CSR Policy ESV Policy Charitable Giving Policy CSR Action Plan 3

4 Northern Ireland Environment Agency Corporate Social Responsibility Policy September

5 Background Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is about how companies manage their business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society, and enrich and develop their employees. (Source: BITC) NIEA has been engaged in CSR activity over many years with a strong track record in relation to areas such as Environmental Management, People Development and Leadership, Community Outreach to schools and voluntary groups and an impressive commitment to charitable fundraising. The purpose of this document is to set out the key CSR policy areas to enable NIEA to: Have a clear, consistent approach to CSR; Inform NIEA employees how they can get involved; Capture and record CSR activity in a simple and effective way; and Track progress against agreed CSR targets and goals. Rationale for Developing a CSR policy A more strategic approach to CSR will build on NIEA s successful track record in a structured manner with processes and reporting arrangements that will encourage even greater staff involvement and maximise the impact of the Agency s corporate effort. It also reflects the Northern Ireland Executive s Volunteering Strategy for Northern Ireland, agreed in June 2011, which sets as one of its priorities extending the scope of volunteering in the public sector. Key Guiding Principles NIEA will adopt the following key guiding principles in all its CSR activity and these will be underpinned by the Agency s Corporate Mission Statement and Values. An open, balanced and transparent approach to CSR will be maintained at all times and Agency management and staff will be encouraged to share their skills, enthusiasm and commitment to the mutual benefit of the organisation and the community. They key guiding principles to be adopted are: through recognising and valuing the skills and talents of NIEA employees and being a caring and supportive employer; leading by example as an employer committed to excellence in sustainability and environmental management; impacting positively in the rural, urban and built environment across Northern Ireland. 5

6 People Recognising that its employees are its greatest asset, NIEA will wherever possible make best use of the considerable skills, experience and creativity of Agency staff in the delivery of its CSR strategy. As evidenced by the findings of the recent Charitable Giving and Volunteering Survey 2011, it is proposed to focus a significant effort towards skills development through team and individual volunteering and provide opportunities for staff to mentor and coach appropriate voluntary organisations for both personal, professional and corporate development. Planet Building on the successful track record of NIEA as evidenced by the recent Business in the Community award in recognition of the Agency s Quintile One position in the ARENA Environmental Benchmarking Survey. The aim is to work to retain this position and develop additional in-house and externally accredited best practice standards. It will also be a priority to share environmental best practice tools and technologies with other employers and to continuously improve the Agency s performance in this area. Place Building on the significant role the Agency plays in maintaining, protecting and conserving the rural, urban and built environment of Northern Ireland by encouraging its employees and their families to visit and support sites and properties in Northern Ireland of natural and historical interest. In addition the Agency will continue to look for ways to raise awareness of the numerous attractions and opportunities its properties offer to employer networks and similar forums to increase visitor numbers and widen participation. Implementation NIEA will deliver its CSR Strategy through the development of an agreed CSR Action Plan. This CSR Action Plan and its delivery will have the following features. Membership of the CSR Steering Group Recommendations for a CSR Steering Group comprised of staff across all grades from NIEA. Membership of the Steering Group will be voluntary and include nominated representatives from DOE Corporate Communications, the NIEA Sports Association, NIEA Health & Safety team and NICS Trade Unions. Recommendations on membership of the Steering Group will be made by the Strategy Group and approved by the NIEA Board. Additional members of the CSR Steering Group may emerge as the strategy is delivered. This Steering Group will be the engine for CSR activity across the Agency with the key roles of agreeing the action plan and co-ordinating and measuring activity. 6

7 Members of the Steering Group will be required, in line with NICS HR Handbook 6.01 Standards of Conduct policy, to declare any external interests or relationships with external bodies. This is to ensure that the Group s decision making process is not compromised or unduly influenced and there is no real or perceived conflict with the Agency s CSR aspirations. CSR Action Plan Objectives Establishment of baseline positions for each area of People, Planet and Place. Identification of CSR priorities (over a two year period rolling cycle). Identification of clear targets and expected outcomes will be identified along with key partners and stakeholders. Communication of targets across the management structure of NIEA and inclusion in NIEA key performance measures. To explore opportunities to involve the NIEA Board and Senior Management Team in the delivery and ownership of the Action Plan. Ongoing review of progress against CSR targets carried out by the CSR Steering Group with regular reporting to the NIEA Board as appropriate. Communication of CSR Activity and Opportunities Internal and external communication of NIEA CSR activity will be a key feature of the Action Plan and opportunities will be explored to highlight success and achievements of team and individuals. Agency staff will receive regular communication from the CSR Steering Group indicating what opportunities are available to them and how they can get involved. It is proposed to use the DOE Staff Brief to bring a human interest angle to the CSR strategy. Appropriate external communication of CSR activity will also be explored. Other forms of internal communication will also be explored such as the Intranet, e- mail and team briefings. Developing Strategic Partnerships NIEA recognises that it cannot deliver its CSR strategy in isolation and therefore it will be important to work in collaboration with other organisations and stakeholder groups for maximum impact. The Agency will also make use of expertise and experience in CSR from organisations such as Business in the Community as required and connect to strategic networks where appropriate. Benchmarking NIEA will ensure that its CSR activity in People, Planet and Place is robustly measured so that comparisons with other government departments and employers in similar and different sectors can be made. The Agency will work with others to determine the appropriate benchmarking model for each area. 7

8 Involving our staff NIEA has a wealth of talent, experience and skill sets within the workforce that if carefully harnessed, could be of significant value to the wider community in terms of sustainable development. The CSR Action Plan will therefore factor in opportunities where employees can bring forward their ideas, suggestions and creativity as to how their various talents can be best utilised. The intention would be that over time the CSR Steering Group will explore linking CSR objectives to the NIEA Corporate Scorecard and PPA procedures. Telling our story NIEA is justifiably proud of its achievements to date in relation to CSR and success stories have been captured for internal communication through the DOE Staff Brief. Building on this, the Agency will continue to explore how we best promote what we do. The CSR Steering Group will monitor this issue and bring forward recommendations as part of the Action Plan. Business Benefits for NIEA There are a number of significant business benefits to be derived for NIEA in developing a strategic policy approach to CSR and these are summarised below: It ensures a consistent and co-ordinated approach across the entire Agency; It connects NIEA employees to the community for mutual benefit; It delivers clear People benefits in terms of enhanced team building, improved morale, skills development, leadership etc; It encourages shared learning for NIEA staff in understanding issues and challenges with appropriate voluntary organisations; It provides for improved employee satisfaction and pride in NIEA; It helps in making greater use of employee skill sets; There It offers cost savings through sound environmental performance and good practice measures; It presents opportunities for NIEA to benchmark activity against other employers and government departments; It helps in raising awareness of NIEA properties to a wider audience; and It assists in positioning NIEA as an exemplar employer in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility and people interacting with their environment. Conclusion This policy and its resulting CSR Action Plan together with the Employee Volunteering Policy and Charitable Giving Policy will provide NIEA with the appropriate policy context, structure and processes through which the strategy can be delivered. Northern Ireland Environment Agency Strategy Group September

9 Northern Ireland Environment Agency Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) Policy September

10 Background Northern Ireland Environment Agency, in recognition of its corporate social responsibility, is committed to encouraging and supporting staff to make a positive impact to the wider community through Employer Supported Volunteering. Northern Ireland Environment Agency recognises the significant enthusiasm, expertise and energies that exist at all levels amongst its staff. The aim of this policy is to increase awareness of the benefits of employer supported volunteering in the local community and to maximise the impact of staff efforts. This also reflects the Department of Social Development (DSD) Volunteering Strategy for Northern Ireland as agreed by the Executive in June 2011, which sets as one of its priorities to extending the scope of volunteering in the public sector and reiterates the provisions already set out in the HR Handbook. What is Employer Supported Volunteering? Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) is the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of the community by individuals or groups of employees with the help and encouragement of their employer. It is undertaken freely and without concern for financial gain. (Source: Consultation paper on Volunteering Strategy for Northern Ireland published by Department for Social Development, July 2009). Support for Volunteering Activities The aim of this policy is to support staff involvement in team volunteering activity through: the provision of suitable team volunteering challenges; support of individuals involved in volunteering activities; matching staff time dedicated to volunteering; providing access to Agency facilities where appropriate; and raising the profile of volunteering activities using internal/external media. Responsibilities All line managers within the Northern Ireland Environment Agency will have responsibility for implementing this policy across the organisation and for dealing with requests from individual staff members. Line managers should respond favourably to volunteering requests within operational limits. In order to ensure a measured and balanced approach, NIEA CSR Steering Group will be responsible for co-ordinating ESV activity across the Agency. Team Volunteering Activities The following key principles will underpin team volunteering activity: Northern Ireland Environment Agency will source volunteering challenges from reputable organisations with proven experience in the area such as Business in the Community (BITC) etc. Projects identified by employees will also be considered, provided all health and safety and insurance issues are addressed. Team challenges will be encouraged to foster team building and enhance staff morale. Team events will be reviewed and evaluated. The success of team activities will be measured by evaluating the impact on everyone involved, the employee volunteers, the Agency and the partner organisation. 10

11 Northern Ireland Environment Agency is committed to supporting and embracing community projects that are aligned to strategic objectives and enhance its operational ability and reputation. Northern Ireland Environment Agency will endeavour to support programmes that are inclusive in their nature and span all social and community backgrounds. Priority will be given to those projects that support the Environment (as evidenced by the findings of the March 2011 staff survey 65.8% of staff supported this issue) and overall work of the Agency. Northern Ireland Environment Agency will work closely with organisations such as Business in the Community to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health safety and welfare of any employee who participates in a team challenge. A thorough risk assessment will be carried out prior to all team challenges. Business Benefits Northern Ireland Environment Agency recognises that mobilising and engaging its employees on volunteering activities has a number of key benefits for the organisation, namely: Impacting positively on the wider community and, as appropriate, raising awareness of specific environmental issues The Agency and voluntary organisations we engage with are better able to meet their objectives through the sharing of skills, expertise and resources. Providing an external focus and fresh perspective for employees; Increasing team effectiveness; Enabling the smooth integration of teams within the Agency; Breaking down barriers among staff and providing valuable social interaction and cohesion; Developing leadership skills; Empowering employees with project management skills; Providing an enjoyable and enriching experience for teams and individuals Actively promoting team building; Positioning Northern Ireland Environment Agency as an exemplar employer in relation to employer supported volunteering in Northern Ireland Individuals Undertaking Voluntary Work Northern Ireland Environment Agency aims to continue to support those staff who may already be involved in their own privately chosen volunteering activities. However, volunteering as an NIEA Agency representative on behalf of political groups or in relation to issues which would be considered politically sensitive, or represent a conflicts of interest under section 6.01 Standards of Conduct in the HR Handbook, will not be supported. Staff should discuss proposals for employer-supported volunteering activities and associated needs for Agency support with their line management well in advance of their involvement. A pragmatic approach by will be taken by line managers with respect to ongoing activities. Where an individuals volunteering role includes providing advice and support there should be a clear distinction made between access to the individuals expert knowledge and opinions, and their official role as an employee of the Agency. Advice given voluntarily should not be seen as replacement of formal expert advice and where an individual s opinion has been given it should also be clarified that this is not the unified opinion of the Department. Information obtained by staff in their official capacity should not be disclosed unless it has already been published or the individual has been officially permitted to do so. 11

12 Time Off Northern Ireland Environment Agency is committed to supporting employees in volunteering activity as described in this ESV policy. NICS policy (NICS Staff Handbook/HR Policy, Section 3.08 special leave, not statutory, voluntary Aid Bodies) allows for an additional three days matched time off for volunteering within any 12 month period. Applications for special paid leave which is matched by individuals own time (either annual or flexi leave) should be submitted to their line management through HR Connect at least 4 weeks in advance, outlining the nature of the voluntary organisation; the nature and extent of the officers involvement; and time-off required. Staff are required once they return to work, to provide a formal letter from the voluntary organisation confirming their participation, covering both the period of special leave and the own time element and explaining the impact the volunteering had. Copies of these letters, together with a summary of the total amount of time volunteered by an individual (covering both special leave and matching time) will be passed to DOE HR and on to HR Connect for recording on personal files. NIEA staff who participate in team challenge events initiated by the Agency will not be required to contribute an equal amount of leave allowance. For further guidance and information on the time granted for other general volunteering under NICS rules, please refer to HR Connect and DOE Employer Supported Volunteering Policy. Access to Agency Facilities Staff involved in volunteering activities approved under the ESV scheme may, within reason, make use of telephones, photocopiers, stationery and internal office support services to aid their voluntary activities. Staff may also have access to meeting rooms for organising and/or arranging volunteering activities provided all security conditions are met. This is subject to availability and core operational business being given priority. Materials Required for Challenge Projects It may be appropriate for NIEA to set aside a modest budget to cover tools and materials required for team challenge projects. In this regard NIEA will liaise with external organisations to ensure best value is achieved where materials are required. Monitoring and Evaluating Volunteering Activities NIEA will work closely with external organisations to evaluate the impact of each team volunteering challenge to ensure that all objectives have been achieved in terms of learning, team building and community impact. This will be carried out after each organised team challenge event. In addition a detailed annual report including full evaluation of all volunteering activity undertaken will be presented by the NIEA CSR Co-ordinator. NIEA will agree on the level of external support if required for delivery, monitoring and evaluation of team challenge activity and the associated costs involved. Raising the Profile of Volunteering NIEA is keen to publicise, both internally and externally, any staff community involvement which may be newsworthy. However, the privacy of any individual who expresses a preference not to be identified with their voluntary activities will be respected. 12

13 Staff may use in-house publications and briefings notice boards, etc to promote/review their volunteering activities. Usage and timing must be agreed with their line manager. External communication of Northern Ireland Environment Agency s Employer Supported Volunteering activity is essential to reflect the scale of impact to the wider community and to encourage and motivate other organisations in this important area of work. NIEA CSR Coordinator will co-ordinate this aspect in conjunction with NIEA Press Office and organisations such as Business in the Community. Conclusion Employer Supported Volunteering should be rewarding to all those who take part. This policy aims to ensure that activities are worthwhile, developmental, and fun and that the staff who take part are recognised and feel appreciated. Review This policy will be reviewed annually in light of any changing circumstances. Northern Ireland Environment Agency Strategy Group September

14 Northern Ireland Environment Agency Charitable Giving Policy September

15 Background This policy statement sets out Northern Ireland Environment Agency s (NIEA) strategic approach to facilitate charitable giving, in line with our wider commitment to corporate social responsibility and employee volunteering. This policy also seeks to ensure good practice in terms of governance and probity for all NIEA employees engaged in the collection and distribution of funds obtained through fundraising activity. Mission Statement Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) will strive to be a good corporate citizen in the communities in which it operates and will make best use of the energies and talents of its employees in charitable fundraising activities. Charity Committee It is proposed to establish a Northern Ireland Environment Agency Charity Committee with the purpose of: Ensuring that support for local and international charities is shared or rotated in a balanced way Assisting in selecting a nominated charity of the year to be associated with Northern Ireland Environment Agency Maximising the scale and potential of our fundraising activity Encouraging Northern Ireland Environment Agency s employees to become actively involved in corporately supported charitable giving Ensuring that appropriate recognition and profile of NIEA s staff activity is achieved Whilst the Northern Ireland Environment Agency s Charity Committee will provide corporate structure to charitable giving, it is important to maintain the fun and enjoyment created by spontaneous fundraising activities and/or immediate responses to charity appeals. To ensure a consistent approach all such ad hoc fundraising activity should be approved by line management and communicated to the CSR Coordinator. This will enable optimum corporate support for the proposed activity. Charities Committee Membership The Northern Ireland Environment Agency s Charity Committee will comprise of representatives from across the organisation including Trade Unions with a particular interest in this area. Membership of this Committee may also include representatives from DOE Corporate Communications and the NIEA Sports Association. It is suggested that membership be no more than eight people and frequency of meetings will be agreed at the outset. Members of the committee will be required in line with NICS HR Handbook 6.01 Standards of Conduct policy to declare any external interests or relationships with external bodies to ensure there is no real or perceived conflict with the work of the Department and that the committee s decision making process is not compromised or unduly influenced. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency s Charity Committee will be chaired by a member of the senior management team in the first instance and then subsequently rotated within the membership. Guiding Principles and Rationale The Northern Ireland Environment Agency s Charity Committee will strive to ensure that all corporate charitable giving is donated to reputable, registered charities. To assist them in deciding 15

16 what constitutes a reputable registered charity the Charities Committee where appropriate, will seek guidance and clarification on the credentials of charitable organisations from the NICS list of official charities, the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland, and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA). The following Guiding Principles will underpin the decisions relating to corporate charitable giving by NIEA: NIEA will support groups and projects that enhance the Agency s reputation and should generally have a strong environmental element to them NIEA will endeavour to ensure an equitable distribution of support across social groupings and backgrounds Only reputable, registered charities will be supported NIEA will not support charities or groups with political or sectarian associations NIEA will ensure that due diligence is applied in the auditing and reporting of all fundraising activity and will seek professional support in this area where appropriate Clear guidelines will be agreed to protect NIEA employees in terms of probity in relation to the collection and distribution of funds professional advice may be sought in this regard Promotion and Communication In order to facilitate the maximum uptake and involvement of charitable fundraising by NIEA employees the following communication approaches will be utilised: Minutes and Action Points from Charities Committee meetings will be posted on the NIEA intranet. Updates and features on fundraising activity will be included in the DOE Team Brief and on the NIEA Intranet. Fundraising champions will be identified across NIEA to raise awareness of charitable giving and help to energize our effort Appropriate PR and external promotion of NIEA charitable giving will be managed by the CSR Co-ordinator. Recognition of outstanding fundraising activities by NIEA employees and teams will be encouraged on an ongoing basis Review This policy will be reviewed by Northern Ireland Environment Agency annually in the light of any changing circumstances. Northern Ireland Environment Agency Strategy Group September

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