The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, launched the UN Global Compact in 2000 to harness the power of collective action in the promotion of responsible corporate citizenship. The Global Compact provides a framework of ten principles in four different categories – human rights, labour standards, the environment & anti-corruption – within which companies are invited to manage their operations.
In June 2003 a number of UK-based signatories of the UN Global Compact met to explore the value and function of a UK Network as part of the Global Compact’s programme of establishing local networks. The Network continues to evolve and, in January 2006, moved from informal governance to a fee-paying structure, agreed by the members, and led by a Chair with support from a Steering Committee, Secretariat, and working groups.
The UK Network serves as a focal point of co-ordination and communication for its members and its key goals are:
- to provide UK signatories with a facility to consider and advance issues of mutual interest and concern
- to provide a mechanism through which performance and reporting on UN Global Compact principles can be improved by mutual support
- to enable participants to share and exchange practice and experience
- to provide input to the Global Compact on its future development and activity
- to promote the Global Compact principles throughout the UK business community
- to help promote and support the Global Compact worldwide
The Advisory Group works to help the Network achieve its aims and consists of representatives from both multinational corporations and SMEs. It also includes observers from government, non-governmental organisations, and trade unions.
The Advisory Group is responsible for setting the direction of the network and approving the annual budget and programme of activity. It oversees the work of the Secretariat and reports to the full membership at UK Network meetings.
Since October 2013, the Secretariat has been provided by The Sustainability Hub located in Clerkenwell. Prior to that, it was managed by the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF).