Corporate Social Responsibility in the Construction Industry

Employee relations is an important part of corporate social responsibility in the construction industry.
Employee relations is an important part of corporate social responsibility in the construction industry. (Image: Rainer Elstermann/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Many industries, such as the construction industry, see corporate social responsibility as a viable and necessary part of doing business. Issues such as global warming, sustainability and the industry’s effect on the community are figuring into more construction industry company policies and plans. The efforts pay dividends in company reputation, profits and benefits for the world at large.

CSR Guidelines

In April 2010, the European Commission issued guidelines for corporate social responsibility in the construction industry -- Europe’s largest sectoral employer -- on health and safety, eco-compatibility, equal opportunities and management of the supply chain. The guidelines urge companies to improve operational efficiency and the well-being of employees with better management of health and safety problems. Regarding the environment, construction companies are urged to create environmentally sustainable processes and products while developing new ways to provide eco-compatible construction. The guidelines also suggest that companies increase transparency and improve management of environmental and sustainability issues in the acquisition and quality of their supplies.

Long Life of the Product

Another corporate social responsibility topic important to the international construction industry is the long life of its products and how those products consume energy and affect community health in the long run. According to the Vienna University report, "Does CSR Pay Off?" social responsibility and cost efficiency require that companies be sure that the property developer, the general contractor and the future users agree on such matters as sustainability and energy use.

Company CSR Reports

Many construction companies issue corporate social responsibility reports, in which construction firms explain their dedication to corporate social responsibility and highlight successes. For example, the first such report from the largest construction company in Wisconsin -- the “Michels Corporation 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report” -- claims that 5 percent of its annual operating budget is dedicated to “CSR components,” such as indigenous relations, health and safety, charitable giving and environmental concerns. The report also defines the important role of CSR reporting in building trust, promoting transparency and soliciting feedback from employees and the public. (Ref. 3)

Additional CSR Concerns

The Michels Corporation CSR report also includes issues of vital importance to the construction industry, such as construction’s impact on the community, safety and environmental stewardship. To keep impact on the community to a minimum, the company responds to residents’ needs in a way that creates trust and a feeling of partnership in the community’s development. Regarding safety, the report highlights special programs, including the company’s biannual “Safety Summits” and annual safety training tours for employees. The report’s environmental section emphasizes the importance of employee training in successful environmental stewardship.

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