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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the UN Global Compact?

The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, with over 10,000 business and 3000 non-business participants globally. It aims to mobilise a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we all want.

To make this happen, the UN Global Compact supports companies to:

  1. Do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption; and
  2. Take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.

The UN Global Compact provides a principle-based framework, best practices, resources and networking events that have revolutionised how companies do business responsibly and keep commitments to society.

By catalysing action, partnerships and collaboration, the UN Global compact makes transforming the world possible — and achievable — for organisations large and small, anywhere around the globe.

For more information please visit the UN Global Compact website.

What is the Global Compact Network Australia?

The Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) is the Australian, business-led network of the UN Global Compact.

As the principal sustainability initiative in Australia, the GCNA brings together participants of the UN Global Compact, including a number of Australia’s leading companies, civil society organisations and universities, to advance responsible business and the private sector’s contribution to sustainable development.

We lead, enable and connect business and stakeholders to create a sustainable future by acting responsibly and finding opportunity for positive impact. We do this by providing a platform for dialogue, learning, influence and action that is practical and leading edge. We guide businesses on how a principles-based approach to doing business by advancing the Ten Principles and the contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) drives long-term business success.

The GCNA is recognised as a trusted convener and adviser on responsible and sustainable business practices by sustainability practitioners. We provide business with a meeting point to share and build best practice and connect with networks and experts in Australia.

The GCNA also engages with government around policy, and in 2015 announced a significant partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade aimed at engaging the private sector in sustainable development.

Who can join the Global Compact?

Participation in the UN Global Compact is open to any business genuinely committed to implementing the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and communicating on progress in implementing the principles each year.

Properly constituted (under prevailing national law) companies from any industry sector are eligible for participation, except those listed here. Non-business organisations — civil society organisations/NGOs, academic institutions, business associations, labour organisations, public sector organisations and cities — are also encouraged to become signatories to the UN Global Compact.

The UN Global Compact also has separate policies for micro-enterprises and subsidiaries:

  • Micro-enterprises: If you have fewer than ten direct employees the UN Global Compact will consider your application for participation if the Local Network supports such an application. If you would like to learn more about this process please contact the GCNA at secretariat@unglobalcompact.org.au.
  • Subsidiaries: If you are a subsidiary of a parent company that is a UN Global Compact signatory you can join the initiative in Australia. In some cases, the parent company’s UN Global Compact commitment applies to all subsidiaries. Other times, subsidiaries can choose to become UN Global Compact signatories alongside their parent company. Either way, you are able become a member of the Global Compact Network Australia.
Are there some companies that cannot participate in the initiative?

Properly constituted (under prevailing national law) companies from any industry sector are eligible for participation, except those companies that derive revenue from controversial weapons, including the production, sale and/or transfer of antipersonnel landmines or cluster bombs and those that derive revenue from the production and/or manufacturing of tobacco.

New applications for participation are also checked against a global database to see if the company concerned is the subject of a UN sanction. Companies that have been suspended or removed for ethical reasons by the Procurement Division of the UN are also excluded from participation.

Any other information found in the database is shared with the Local Network Focal Point, if one exists, for the relevant country for additional input. For more information, please read the UN Global Compact Joining Policy.

Why should my organisation join?

The UN Global Compact provides a universal language for corporate responsibility and provides a framework to guide all businesses regardless of size, complexity or location.

We’re your guide every step of the way. We’ll help you commit to, assess, define, implement, measure and communicate your sustainability strategy.

Discover how we support businesses and see how you will benefit by visiting the UN Global Compact membership benefits page and the Global Compact Network Australia member benefits page.

What will we have to do if we sign up?

As a voluntary initiative, the United Nations Global Compact seeks wide participation from a diverse group of businesses. As a participant of the UN Global Compact, a company:

  • Sets in motion changes to business operations so that the UN Global Compact and its Ten Principles become part of strategy, culture and day-to-day operations;
  • Is expected to publicly advocate the UN Global Compact and its principles via communications vehicles such as press releases, speeches, etc; and
  • Is required to communicate with their stakeholders on an annual basis about progress in:
    • Implementing the Ten Principles and
    • Efforts to support societal priorities.

The Communication on Progress (CoP) is a visible expression of your commitment to sustainability and your stakeholders can view it on your company’s profile page. Companies that fail to report or to meet the criteria over time may be removed from the initiative.

There are a number of ways that companies can take action to embed corporate sustainability into their DNA. Find out what you can do.

Is the UN Global Compact legally binding?

No. The UN Global Compact is a purely voluntary initiative. It does not police or enforce the behaviour or actions of companies. Rather, it is designed to stimulate change and to promote corporate sustainability and encourage innovative solutions and partnerships. You can read more about our integrity measures here.

My organisation is a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). How is this relevant for us? Isn’t it just for big business?

Sustainability is not just for big business, and the UN Global Compact counts thousands of SMEs in its participant base. As the UN Global Compact is a principles-based initiative, it has relevance to, and can be implemented by, companies of all sizes, across all sectors and regardless of whether you are operating domestically or internationally.

How much will it cost?

Please visit the UN Global Compact membership benefits page and the Global Compact Network Australia member benefits page for fee information.

How can my organisation join?

We’re glad that you’re interested in taking the next steps to becoming a member of the UN Global Compact and to actively engage with the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA). The next steps are:

  1. Become a signatory to the UN Global Compact
  2. Complete the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) Membership Form

To become a member of the GCNA, you must first be a signatory to the UN Global Compact or be a subsidiary or affiliated office of a global signatory.

Both business and non-business organisations (e.g. business associations, civil society organisations, foundations, labour organisations, academic institutions and cities) are encouraged to join.

What sort of activities can Global Compact Network Australia members get involved in?

GCNA members have unprecedented networking access to UN Global Compact participants — representing nearly every industry sector and size, in over 160 countries through a range of exclusive member-only events.

They help shape national and international dialogue through GCNA’s thought leadership work and consultations with government on emerging and critical issues and have access to partnerships and other opportunities for collaboration with a range of stakeholders — to share best practices and emerging solutions.

The full list of GCNA member benefits can be accessed here.

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