Spring navigation over
CSRgov
Indhold start
Top billede

Ramboll

Ramboll’s co-responsibility for a project partner’s negative impact on human rights.

Ramboll was involved in a construction project in Dubai as a consulting engineer for a developer, who used contractors that violated the human rights of migrant construction workers. The allegations against Ramboll were that Ramboll by silent complicity accepted the violation of human rights and was indirectly responsible for the behaviour of the contractors. The case illustrates how Ramboll has since worked to secure the right business behaviour in relation to human and labour rights.

Challenge

In February 2001 DanWatch published a critical report The Hidden Slaves. The report criticized that two contractors (Arabtech Construction and Al Haabtoor Leighton), which were working on the same projects as Ramboll, had violated the human rights of migrant construction workers in Dubai. As part of its social responsibility work Ramboll had not previously considered the social performance of project partners with whom Ramboll did not have a contractual relation. Ramboll only had a contract with the developer and not with the contractor. When the DanWatch report became known, the Danish media wrote many critical articles about Ramboll. For example the headline in one of the leading Danish newspapers said: “Ramboll accused of involvement in slavery”.

Focus on solutions

Ramboll quickly acknowledged that it had not been properly prepared for how to ensure the protection of human rights in compliance with the UN Global Compact principles. Ramboll recognized that it had not considered third party (contractor) compliance. In September 2011 Ramboll therefore launched its new policy ”Obligation to Act” for all its employees and also informed more than 5,000 customers about the new policy. Today all Ramboll employees must act if they become aware that project partners (including third parties) violate human rights. In January 2012 Ramboll also launched a ”Suppliers’ Declaration” that all suppliers, sub-consultants and consortium partners must accept. These new initiatives are in line with the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Key lessons

  • Awareness about the extent of social responsibility. It is important that a company is aware of the extent of its social responsibility and that this responsibility can also change over time. Ramboll originally assumed that its responsibility extended to collaborators with whom Ramboll had signed a contract.  Today Ramboll’s employees have an obligation to act if they become aware of human rights violations by the developer, architects, consulting engineers, contractors or other project partners even if they do not have a contractual relation.
  • Social responsibility needs to be integrated into existing management processes and systems. It is important to integrate CSR policies into existing management processes and systems in order to ensure that social responsibility becomes an integrated part of the business.
  • Speak openly to customers about social challenges. It is useful to speak openly to customers about social challenges. It is considered professional behaviour that the consultant pays attention to social responsibility challenges.

Read more about the Ramboll CSR Case (pdf) Rambølls Code of Conduct Rambølls CSR rapport 2012 Rambølls Code of Practice

Timeline

17 February, 2011
DanWatch informed Ramboll that it was about to publish a report about two contractors’ violations of the human rights of migrant construction workers in Dubai. The contractors were involved in the same projects as Ramboll. Ramboll had not previously focused on the social responsibility performance of contractors with whom Ramboll did not have a contractual relationship.


21 February, 2011
Several Danish media ran critical stories about the DanWatch report.

 

March 2011
Ramboll initiated a dialogue with the Danish Association of Consulting Engineers, the Confederation of Danish Industries, and FIDIC (the International Federation of Consulting Engineers).

 

September 2011
Ramboll launched its new policy ”Obligation to Act” for all Ramboll employees and also informed more than 5,000 customers about the new policy. Today all Ramboll employees have an obligation to act if they become aware of violations of human rights caused by project partners.

 

January 2012
Launch of a ”Suppliers’ Declaration” aimed at all suppliers, sub-consultants and consortium partners.

Speak openly to customers about problems. It is useful to speak openly to customers. It is considered professional behaviour that the consultant pays attention to social responsibility challenges.