Danish restaurant owners take the lead: Commit to UN principles for social responsibility
CSR: 14 Danish restaurant owners commit to complying to the UN Guidelines for Human Rights and Business. This is groundbreaking, believes CSR expert, and necessary, says co-founder of the Danish restaurant Sticks’n’Sushi Kim Rahbek.
Restaurants in Denmark like Sticks’n’Sushi, Madklubben and Cock’s & Cows now take a step towards becoming more socially responsible companies. In a new initiative, they will review their business and bring them into line with the United Nations Guidelines for Human Rights and Business.
“Of course we need to make money, but we also believe we have a responsibility for the foot print we leave on present and future. Therefore, we do this,” says Kim Rahbek, co-founder and CEO of Sticks’n’Sushi.
Leading industry worldwide
A total of 14 restaurants have collaborated with the Danish Association of Danish Restaurants and Cafes with the initiative REGA (Restaurateurs’ Guarantee). And it is quite unique, REGA tells.
“It is the first industry in the world to make a joint initiative with the work on social responsibility,” explains Lea Marie Juliussen, project manager at REGA.
More specifically, the restaurateurs commit themselves to having a social responsibility policy to be adopted at the top decision-making level in the organization, and to work on the ten principles of the UN Global Compact for corporate social responsibility according to the UN and OECD 2011 guidelines. The guidelines can be divided into 48 specific human rights, 20 areas for environmental impact and 16 risk areas for corruption. Examples of human rights include, the right not to be exposed to discrimination, the right to health and the right to rest and leisure.
The 14 restaurateurs now have to make so-called impact analyzes and see where they have possible negative impacts as well as describe how to handle them.
“It is groundbreaking that an organization is collaborating with some of the leading players and committing itself to these standards and creating transparency on how they will deal with the possible negative impacts they may have on UN rights,” says founder and Director of Global CSR Sune Skadegaard Thorsen, affiliated with the project as an adviser.
The time spirit is with CSR
REGA runs over two years until March 2020. The 14 restaurateurs, who have 180 eateries and over 7,000 employees, commit themselves to paying a secretarial amount and allocating internal resources to work with social responsibility.
According to Kim Rahbek, the effort also costs each company “hundreds of thousands of dollars”. But instead of just giving money to the Red Cross, he and the others also want to emphasize the entire company’s value chain and the way in which suppliers and the outside world sees the restaurants.
“We do it because we think it’s right and makes sense. This is not a pleaser project, it’s a necessary project, and we hope we can be role models for others,” he says. However, he also believes that the spirit of time is right.
Role models for other industries
Lea Marie Juliussen explains that there is no list of how to prevent negative effects, but it is assessed in individual companies how to do it best. Sune Skadegaard Thorsen hopes and believes that the initiative of the catering industry will expand. “The restaurateurs are taking the first step. I hope they will be able to inspire the rest of the industry and other industries, including abroad, by showing that this is a good thing,” he says.