Classification: External Use Only
Duty of Care: Corporate Social
Responsibility and Beyond
The words “corporate duty of care” sound so, well, corporate and management-ese that it’s all too tempting to yawn, tick the box and move to the next task. But what could be more important to any company than the welfare of its people?
It is cavalier to treat this increasingly serious area as a mere tick box exercise. Any company not having a proper duty of care strategy in place is risking potential human and financial catastrophe.
Risk management used to exist only in those companies that engaged in businesses with inherent dangers such as mining or in geopolitically volatile areas of the world for example the oil and gas sector.
But risk no longer respects traditional economic, political and social boundaries.
Business travels to new markets
The problems in the Eurozone following the global economic downturn of 2008, combined with improved connectivity has meant that British business no longer concentrates on its traditional markets of North
America and Europe for trade and is increasingly looking to emerging economies in previously unfamiliar parts of South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Far East.
Locations are not static but changing rapidly
“Safe” and “less safe” parts of the world used to be relatively static. That is no longer the case. Syria and
Jordan both had an active trade in tourism not long ago and Kenya and Egypt were once standard holiday locations. Today travel to all of these countries comes with some degree of a warning.
Major carriers’ flights have routinely used Ukraine airspace for routes between Europe and the Far East; the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in the summer was a reminder that what is routine one day looks questionable the next. By the same token, trade with West Africa had been increasing sharply but the escalation in cases of Ebola undoubtedly affected travel to and from that region.
For many companies risk management was similar to health and safety – something around which there were statutory requirements about expectations but a matter of where common sense and insurance were usually sufficient.
Traveller tracking, the ability to locate a company’s employees who are working away
Business travel and duty of care
from base, is an essential ingredient of any corporate duty of care strategy. It means that in
The Corporate Manslaughter Act was made law in April 2008. It means that a company may be prosecuted if someone dies in the course of business and that death could have been prevented if the proper measures had been in force. Moreover, the Act says that you can pursue not only the company but anyone in a position of management control in addition to the directors.
If, say, a travel manager were to tell someone to do something that was negligent to advise them to do, say as in “travel to Liberia as it is perfectly safe and no precautions need to be taken” – that could make the manager firmly liable. Punishment under the Act may be only a fine but it also enables an individual to be identified as culpable if an employee were killed as a consequence of inadequate processes. The Act has served as a wake-up call to UK businesses to get their processes in order.
So just how is business waking up to the need for a Duty of Care strategy?
Strategy and planning
Any new programme within a company requires a champion and a team to have the vision and then take its strategy from a glimmer of an idea through to an implemented integral part of a company’s working.
the event of any travel disruption, natural catastrophe or incident, the company can locate its travellers and then communicate information and instructions to support their safety.
Companies using the “Portman Traveller
Tracking” tool can fulfil their duty of care obligations and be confident that they will always be able to locate their executives away…