Table of Contents
The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) basically focuses on the need for sustainability. CSR therefore requires that organizations or individual projects should base their decision-making not only on the target financial outcomes, but also on both the immediate and long-term human and environmental consequences (EIL, 2016). The engineering and construction organizations impact directly on the environments and the people in which they undertake their various construction and engineering projects. Although the financial benefits to these entities is the primary objective of undertaking the different projects, the construction and engineering organizations should also focus on creating sustainable benefits for the communities and the environments in which they operate. Creating such benefits can be realized through establishing effective program initiatives that protect the environment, supporting and facilitating employees, as well as incorporating, involving and developing the communities through various communal projects. In this respect, CSR in the engineering and construction industry should focus on devising voluntary activities that balance the targeted economic benefits of the projects with the beneficial human and environmental consequences.
The fundamental basic human rights include the right to life, liberty and good health. 6the reduction of the risks and hazards that could endanger the human rights to life and good health should therefore be instrumental in ensuring the sustainability of the construction industry projects. People are a core part of any construction project business, and their energy, skills and experiences are vital and essential for the successful implementation of any construction project (Rahman, 2016). However, most of the construction industry and engineering projects are undertaken under environments of great hazards and potentially high negative consequences on human health (Buhmann, Roseberry & Morsing, 2011). The corporate social responsibility for the construction industry and engineering projects therefore demands that the major focus should be making the safety and health of the people involved in those projects the first priority (Rahman, 2016).
The human rights dimension of corporate social responsibility does not only require the construction project to mind the safety and health of the people involved in the project, but to also be highly aware, considerate, mindful and respectful of the human values of the clients and suppliers involved in the projects (Walker-Said & Kelly, 2015). Further, the human rights dimension of the corporate social responsibility for the construction industry is well aligned with the Health, Safety and Welfare attribute requirement of the ICE members providing that executing the engineering projects should be in such a way that it takes care of the safety and welfare of the human persons involved in the projects (ice.org.uk, 2018).
Additionally, the Technical and Practical Application of Engineering attribute also provides that the construction projects should review and carefully select the procedures, methods and techniques for undertaking their engineering tasks (ice.org.uk, 2018). The careful review and selection of the methods, procedures and techniques to be applied in executing the construction project tasks is geared towards ensuring that in addition to achieving high efficiency of the projects, the safety, welfare and health of the people involved in completing the projects are well protected (ice.org.uk, 2018). The fact that construction industry projects are undertaken in diverse geographical environments where the project implementers have to interact with diverse populations with highly varied social and cultural backgrounds, also requires the implementers to respect the different set of values of such communities (Rahman, 2016).
For example, Hitachi is a construction engineering multinational conglomerate company with construction project operations that are spread throughout the world. The company has incorporated the United Nations (UN) human rights guiding principles within its company ethical code of operations, to ensure that the company incorporates basic human rights principles in all its operations. The company has there managed to instill respect for its employees at all levels, while also ensuring to avoid engaging in complicit human rights violations for both its customers and suppliers.
Community involvement and development
The construction industry players and engineering projects implementers interact with a number of local communities and stakeholders during the process of executing their on-site operations (OECD, 2001). The community involvement and development dimension of corporate social responsibility requires that the construction industry and its engineering projects should work towards supporting the development of a sustainable society, through supporting the economic, social and cultural development of the local communities (Ismail, 2009). Therefore, the engineering projects executed by the construction industry should also design and comprise of activities that will bolster and support the involvement and development of the local communities.
The community involvement and development dimension is also aligned accordingly with the ICE membership attribute of Sustainable Development, which requires that the engineering construction projects should be executed through means that attains the sustainable development of the local communities (ice.org.uk, 2018). In this respect, the ICE membership demands that all engineering projects implemented by its membership organizations should be executed by way of applying the best practices for sustainable development (ice.org.uk, 2018).
Further, the Engineering objective of the IStructE 3 core objectives also stipulates that engineering projects should be implemented such that they effectively create a sustainable implementation of the solutions (ISE, 2011). The implementation of sustainable solutions in construction projects requires that the inputs of the local communities and different stakeholders to the project in question should be incorporated, to avert the chances of project resistance and sabotage by the local communities and other stakeholders (OECD, 2001). It is through incorporating the inputs of the local communities and different other project stakeholders, while also involving and engaging the local communities, for example, through offering employment opportunities to locals, that such projects becomes accepted and sustainable for the communities (Ismail, 2009).
For example, Danis Building Construction is a construction company headquartered in Ohio, which was established in 1916 and has sustained a good reputation for its community involvement and development initiatives. The company has established annual charitable programs in which it participates, through corporate sponsorships, free labor provision initiatives by its employees to construct different community projects, as well as funding key community projects and social amenities. The company also offers educational sponsorship programs, while also helping in the establishment of key educational infrastructure to support the community, for example, sponsoring the construction of the Dayton Metro Library.
The environmental dimension of corporate social responsibility is a core focus for the modern global corporate world. The environmental dimension of CSR does not only contribute to the long-term economic progress of global nations, but also works towards enhancing the social outcomes of the local communities, while also contributing to the positive building of a corporate brand (Harrison & Coussens, 2007). According to the management and commercial core objective of Institute of Structural Engineering (ISE), members seeking to obtain chartered membership must not only attain the competence for efficient resources management, but also for efficient regulation of the environmental constraints (ISE, 2011).
Maneuvering the environmental constraints is important to ensure the attainment of low-carbon footprints desired for engineering projects, while at the same time alleviating the negative impacts of environmental degradation caused by such projects (Werther & Chandler, 2006). Therefore, it is very crucial for the construction industry and engineering construction project implementers to prioritize environmental protection and environmental sustainability objectives in their projects.
Merging environmental sustainability with the business objectives
For example, O’Brien Construction Company, Inc. is a U.S.-based construction company that has focused keenly on the issue of environmental conservation and sustainable development. The company has established a green building program initiative that provides its clients with various environmentally-friendly construction options, to ensure that the construction projects reduce their carbon footprints to the minimal levels possible. The Kitsap Community is one of the company’s clients that has benefitted significantly from the environmentally construction initiative, resulting its ability to reduce its energy consumption requirements by 20%. Kitsap has also been able to attain 90% wastes recycling for all its wastes products from the green building initiative of O’Brien.
Bribery and corruption
The bribery and corruption corporate social responsibility dimension for businesses and organizations requires that each entity should act responsibly while undertaking its operations, especially in procurement of tenders (Windsor, 2013). Businesses have a fundamental responsibility to combat corruption, by way of ensuring they follow all the due legal procedures of financial operation dealing with clients, customers and suppliers (Lakin & Scheubel, 2010). Additionally, it is the responsibility of organizations within the construction industry and the implementers of engineering projects to work against any form of bribery and corruption, including resisting extortions and bribery towards or from clients, customers, suppliers and other key project stakeholders (Ojo, 2016).
Further, the first core objective of Institute of Structural Engineering (ISE)chartered membership competence, under the personal core objective, requires that engineering projects must have the capacity and competence to apply leadership and professional commitment to the engineering ethical codes of standards, which prohibits among other things, involvement in bribery and corruption (ISE, 2011). Additionally, the ICE membership qualification attribute under professional commitment, also provides that engineering projects should be implemented in strict compliance with the ICE ethical code of conduct that prohibits bribery and corruption (Castka, Bamber & Sharp, 2004). Therefore, the construction industry and engineering projects have the ethical responsibility of executing their tasks free of corruption.
For example, SITA Inc. is a communications engineering company that has established a formal anti-bribery policy not only for compliance by the company but also by its customers and clients. The company has also established gifting guidelines, providing for the procedures that any reward or gift to the company, its employees or any of its stakeholders should follow. The company has also provided for a mandatory anti-bribery training program for its employees, targeting at ensuring full compliance with the corruption-free and bribery-free policy of the company.
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The employment rights dimension of corporate social responsibility provides that engineering projects have equal or more direct employment impacts on the communities in which they are undertaken (Harrison & Coussens, 2007). The CSR requirement for any engineering projects is that the project implementers should be sensitive to the economic empowerment consequences of their project activities (Ismail, 2009). The management and leadership attribute of ICE membership qualification similarly requires that all engineering and construction projects should have effective organization of tasks, people and resources, in ways that puts into consideration the skills, knowledge and understanding (Castka, Bamber & Sharp, 2004).
Further, the engineering and construction project implementers have the responsibility of continually developing the skills, capabilities and talents of their human resources for effective engineering projects execution (OECD, 2001). Therefore, it is required that every engineering project must be undertaken in a way that improves the local communities and other stakeholder economic relationships and employability empowerment, while also building business value (Lichtenstein, Badu, De-Graft, Owusu-Manu, Edwards &Holt, 2013).
For example, Dane Construction is a building and construction company with a strong reputation for upholding employee rights and supporting its employees to excel in their respective fields of service. The company does not only remunerate its employees highly, but also ensures they are well respected and facilitated in their workplaces, in addition to being rewarded for their performance in their respective job roles. Whenever employees in Dane Construction develop a new skill or innovation, increase their workplace productivity or perform well as team players, their efforts are always recognized and rewarded.
The increasing need for corporations to be socially responsible is not only for the corporate world, but also for the engineering projects. Ensuring that the construction industry and its respective engineering projects operate in a socially responsible manner therefore requires delicate balancing by the project implementers, to ensure attaining the economic, social and environmental objectives simultaneously. The engineering projects must therefore take care of the human rights, environment, employment rights, and community involvement and development needs of the different project stakeholders, while ensuring to desist completely from engaging in bribery and corruption activities.
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