Assessment of the UN Global Compact LEAD Initiative pilot phase

In 2011, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) established a new platform for corporate sustainability leadership: Global Compact LEAD. The overall purpose of this research project was to provide an assessment of the impact and progress of the LEAD initiative to date, and to offer recommendations for potential future pathways.

Specifically, the objectives of the project were:

  • To assess the impact of the UNGC LEAD initiative during its first 2 years (2011-2012), examining whether the initiative lived up to the expectations of participating companies both as a framework for collective action and as a platform for advancing sustainability goals.
  • To assess the extent to which the 56 participating LEAD companies delivered, or were perceived to have delivered, leadership within the wider remit of UNGC signatories and national chapters.
  • To provide evidence based suggestions for the further development of the UNGC initiative from 2013 onwards.

The final report was delivered to the UNGC at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, January 2013.

This research found that participating LEAD companies believe that the Global Compact benefits from having a leadership platform, and that LEAD should continue in some shape or form beyond its two-year pilot phase.

General findings from this research that are applicable to other multi-stakeholder platforms for corporate sustainability include:

  • Providing opportunities to strengthen relationships and connections between companies and the broader systems with regard to corporate sustainability, and the need to do this in a systematic way
  • The importance of networking, sharing and learning amongst MSI participants and the importance of this for having an impact and leading change for others
  • External recognition as a driver for engagement
  • Participation as a catalyst for further change/action within organisations
  • The importance of good management of MSI initiative with clear and action-oriented objectives and good governance of the MSI overall.

A number of articles are currently under peer review.