Globalization has significantly changed the world we live in. One of the most urgent dilemmas for responsible business is how to respect and support human rights in complex social, political and economic contexts – particularly where these human rights are being violated.
Relevant dilemmas are addressed by TITAN during the materiality assessment process and within the context of stakeholder engagement. In the case of the greenfield project in Albania, for example, impacts on human rights (particularly with respect to potential negative or unforeseen consequences for the workers employed during the construction phase and the local communities in the surrounding area to the new plant) were incorporated in the environmental and social impact assessment before the start of the project implementation and throughout the construction and inauguration of the new plant. For more information, see the Group Performance by region and country section of this Report.
Another relevant question arises as to the extent to which company responsibility extends through different tiers of the supply chain. Regarding this particular issue, TITAN has been engaged in collaborative actions as early as 2006 (the collaborative venture with CSR EUROPE). In 2012, a further step was taken by joining the new WBCSD/CSI Working Group for Sustainable Supply Chain. The intention with this step is to move beyond corporate boundaries to consider the full impact of industry operations from upstream on the supply chain, all the way to the production and delivery of concrete downstream.
Moreover, TITAN joined the U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights, held in Geneva (4-5 December 2012), where discussions were focused on challenges in the implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (”Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework”). During the event, TITAN expressed its view that it is beyond the remit of companies to address some of the root causes of human rights violations in question, such as poverty and lack of education (see note).
The responsibility to respect human rights is not limited to compliance with domestic legal provisions for TITAN Group. It exists above and beyond legal compliance, constituting a Group standard of expected conduct applicable to all operations and in all situations. As a result of TITAN’s early commitment to the U.N. Global Compact Initiative, respect for human and labor rights has been integrated into decision-making, management systems and training courses for managers and employees.
On an annual basis, TITAN management in each country examines the potential risks for human rights abuses within the sphere of the company’s influence. Moreover, the Group CSR Committee examines documented Reports referring to human rights risks per country and identifies opportunities for further improvement of TITAN’s performance.
In 2012, the most significant risks related to human rights were identified in Egypt, as the political conditions in the country are not yet stable and the danger of an armed conflict involving civilians is considered of high likelihood. Moreover, in countries like Greece where the financial crisis and the dramatic increase of unemployment has influenced the relations between employees and employers, TITAN has increased monitoring of contractors’ performance, so as to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts. Accordingly, human rights issues are addressed by TITAN’s Code of Conduct and Code for Procurement that are communicated to all companies interested in co-operating with the Group.
TITAN Group has also clearly defined its commitment to apply international standards with respect to valuing diversity and equal opportunities. This is noticeably reflected in the composition of local management teams with managers of local origin and the participation of women in management even in countries where employment in heavy industries is not considered relevant to female professionals. Moreover, as reported last year, the process of restructuring followed by TITAN in order to respond to the financial crisis has not affected female employees disproportionally, and in countries like Albania and Kosovo there are efforts to make employment at TITAN friendlier to female employees. As an example of the Group’s recognized commitment to equal opportunities, in 2012, TITAN was invited to participate in the World Forum for Women’s Empowerment in Istanbul to share about experience gained in Albania.