June 21: Building Responsibly Stakeholder Event and Principles Launch

We are pleased to invite Building Responsibly stakeholders to our event in London on June 21, 2018

The event will mark the launch of the Building Responsibly Principles and offer an opportunity to hear more about the initiative’s progress and goals; as well as discuss the development of the Building Responsibly good practice notes and more broadly, Building Responsibly future goals via an engaging strategy session.

The Building Responsibly Principles lay out the initiative’s collective perspective on, and commitment to, promoting the rights and welfare of workers in the engineering and construction industry. The objective of having the Building Responsibly Principles is to establish common standards across the industry and spur company and stakeholder action around these key areas of worker vulnerability.

If you are interested in receiving an invitation, please contact us.

CH2M [now Jacobs] launches new industry group to protect worker rights

Read CH2M's article on the launch of Building Responsibly here. 

Excerpt below:

"The group's founding member firms (CH2M [now Jacobs], Amec Foster Wheeler [now Wood], Bechtel, Fluor, Multiplex and Vinci) have committed to policies and programs to respect the rights and improve the welfare of workers within their operations and supply chains. Building Responsibly will enable companies to further advance their programs by sharing best practices, agreeing on common approaches and standards, developing tools and engaging clients, civil society, governments and international organizations. Companies will be able to align with regulations and stakeholder expectations while increasing productivity and fostering a better environment for workers. Membership of Building Responsibly is open to engineering and construction companies that are committed to respecting the rights and welfare of workers."

Humanity United: Announcing Building Responsibly

Read Humanity United's article on the launch of Building Responsibly here. 

Excerpt below:

"The launch of Building Responsibly is the product of two years of stakeholder engagement led by CH2M [now Jacobs], with support from the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), and Humanity United.

Going forward, Humanity United will continue to support the initiative’s programmatic work in three primary areas: Improving recruitment practices, strengthening subcontractor management, and enhancing living and working conditions for workers. We look forward to working with Building Responsibly to harness the engineering and construction sector’s ingenuity to promote and uphold the rights and welfare of workers around the world."

Bechtel helps launch Building Responsibly

Read Bechtel's article about the launch of Building Responsibly here.

Excerpt below:

"Together with Amec Foster Wheeler [now Wood], CH2M [now Jacobs], Fluor, Multiplex, and Vinci, Bechtel is launching the Building Responsibly initiative focused on advancing efforts of construction and engineering firms to more effectively align with international human rights frameworks, promote a healthier environment for workers, and further improve project delivery and quality for customers. 

“Working with industry is one of the best opportunities we have to progress worker welfare, especially as supply chains and subcontractor relationships are vast, complex, and interconnected,” said Tam Nguyen, Bechtel’s Global Head of Sustainability. “Through greater collaboration, member companies can better achieve our common goal of safety, productivity, and responsible engagement with our workers and suppliers.”

In the News: Launch of Building Responsibly

Verité welcomes the formation of Building Responsibly

Read Verité's article on the launch of Building Responsibly here.

Excerpt below:

"Verité welcomes the formation of Building Responsibly, an engineering and construction industry initiative, supported by Humanity United. Verité has been engaged in the engineering and construction sector in the Gulf Cooperation Council region for several years, assisting those companies and organizations who want to ensure the ethical recruitment and treatment of the millions of migrant workers employed in the sector."

 

New business coalition, "Building Responsibly", forms to protect workers' rights in construction industry

Read the BHRRC's article on the launch of Building Responsibly here. 

Excerpt below:

"Six major engineering and construction companies have formed a new industry-led coalition called "Building Responsibly" aimed at protecting workers' rights and welfare in global construction supply chains. In our December 2016 report, BHRRC recommended that companies "establish an industry group, with strong mechanisms for civil society input, to identify risk, share challenges and good practice, develop guidance and push for pre-competitive industry wide standards."

 

Building Responsibly is the Way Forward

Read the Fair Observer's article on the launch of Building Responsibly here.

Excerpt below:

"The formation of Building Responsibly represents an important first step forward for an industry that has been slow to address labor rights issues, especially in the Arabian Gulf region. Other engineering and construction firms around the world should join this new initiative. Collaborations like this can promote the sharing of best practices and the development of common industry standards and metrics."

Building Responsibly: Turning Challenges to Opportunities in Engineering and Construction

The engineering and construction industry, which represents US$8.4 trillion of economic activity, relies on large numbers of low-skilled workers and, as such, is a major provider of formal employment opportunities around the world. In many parts of the world, large real estate and infrastructure projects have fueled a construction boom, attracting millions of migrant workers, especially when there are not enough local workers or the local workforce doesn’t have the skills required.

This rapid growth has given rise to challenges around the rights and welfare of workers, which the media and civil society organizations have highlighted publicly. Other external stakeholders, including clients and governments, have started to increase scrutiny of and define expectations for the actors involved in building infrastructure.

Many companies in the engineering and construction industry have longstanding commitments to the health, safety, and welfare of workers. These companies are keen to expand on their existing programs, policies, and standards to further promote the rights and welfare of workers in their operations and subcontracting chains, even in contexts where the rule of law is limited. Working in isolation, however, means that companies’ impact is limited: Competitors can undermine their efforts to implement commitments and a lack of a forum or other coordinated working environment can hamper their attempts to align on standards and approaches.

For six companies in the engineering and construction industry, this construction boom and associated challenges present an opportunity to incubate and implement a new collaboration on the rights and welfare of workers in the industry. Building Responsibly—an industry-led collaborative initiative facilitated by BSR with support from Humanity United—will enable construction and engineering companies to collaborate around their shared values, advance their programs by sharing best practices, agree on common approaches and standards, develop tools, and engage clients, civil society, and international organizations. Through this initiative, companies can more effectively align with regulations and stakeholder expectations, while increasing productivity and fostering a better environment for workers. As a pre-competitive initiative, Building Responsibly will ensure that companies can engage on mutually beneficial measures and policies in a safe space.

Building Responsibly will focus on three key areas of work relevant to companies in the engineering and construction sector, as highlighted in a recent BSR report.

  • Recruitment practices. Recruitment agencies or intermediaries on location continue to lure workers with false promises of high-paid jobs, while charging them high fees to cover the cost of their recruitment. Debts incurred during this process might leave workers in situations of debt bondage, a form of forced labor associated with low or no pay, physical violence, or detention in the country or at work.
  • Working and living conditions. While progress has been made on health and safety in larger infrastructure sites, construction remains one of the most hazardous industries in the world. In addition, these workers may experience heat, delays in paying wages, long hours, and lack of workers’ representation, and living conditions in purpose-built accommodations near construction sites sometimes fail to meet international standards.
  • Subcontractor and supply chain practices. While large construction companies have the resources and knowledge to implement best practices, subcontractors, a vital component of the engineering and construction industry, might face pressure to cut costs and, therefore, minimize social responsibility efforts.

Companies recognize that these kinds of issues cannot be tackled alone. The six companies at the heart of Building Responsibly are choosing to act on these issues in part because it is sound business practice: Ensuring the fulfilment of human rights in operations and subcontracting chains will become a minimum requirement to win work in the future. However, these businesses are also concerned with what’s morally sound: Millions of workers around the world deserve the opportunity to work in a safe environment where they are respected and where their basic human rights are guaranteed. As businesses are increasingly—and rightly—positioned as moral agents in our societies, anything less is simply unacceptable.

Engineering and construction companies that are committed to respecting the rights and welfare of workers are warmly invited to join this collaborative initiative. One thing is clear: As a global society, we’re not going to stop building. But from now on, we’re going to be building responsibly.

This blog first appeared on BSR and can be found here.

AUTHORS

JEAN-BAPTISTE ANDRIEU, Associate Director, BSR

DOMINIC KOTAS, Communications Associate, Collaborative Initiatives, BSR