Any of our business? Human Rights and the UK private sector - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by G4S

  G4S is pleased to respond to the Joint Committee on Human Rights' invitation to businesses who have engaged directly with human rights issues to comment on their impact on the private sector.


  G4S was formed in 2004 after the merger of Group 4 and Securicor—two of the dominant and well-regarded players in the traditional security industry. Since then, G4S has grown to become the leading international security solutions group and second largest multinational employer in the world, with almost 600,000 employees helping businesses and governments in around 115 countries "secure their world".

  G4S specialises in assessing current and future risks and developing secure solutions to minimise their impact. Its employees protect the safety and security of their customers, colleagues and the general public, often playing critical roles in society, for example:

    — Protecting national infrastructure, including prisons, airports and cash circulation.

    — Providing overseas government logistics and close-protection in hostile environments.

    — Contributing expertise in fields ranging from event security to youth justice.


  G4S recognises its ethical responsibility towards its employees, customers, investors, local communities and other stakeholders. As a major global organisation the group plays a significant role in the lives of thousands of people—both directly through employment and our relationships with customer and suppliers, and indirectly through our involvement in the communities in which our employees live and work. In fact, at the heart of our business strategy is the safety and security of our customers, their assets and the general public, so in our everyday business we are constantly contributing to a safer society.

  We have an extensive business ethics policy which provides the backbone to our culture and practice in this area, describing the group's core standards in relation to different audiences. The policy is reviewed regularly to ensure it continues to reflect our business model and areas of operation. To demonstrate its importance within G4S, each year the CEO asks all senior managers and executives around the group to reaffirm their personal commitment to this key policy. All new managers also receive the business ethics policy and are made aware of its importance to the group, signing up to its principles on an annual basis.


  The foundation of our code for good corporate citizenship lies with our employees—we are well aware that the organisation's future success is being driven by the performance of our employees, and for this reason we pay particular attention to their rights and our responsibilities to them.

  In our Business Ethics Policy we recognise the need to optimise individual and business performance through employing the best people at all levels and creating an environment in which they want to and are able to contribute fully to the Group's success. This principle is further substantiated by specific commitments to comply with employers' obligations under labour and social security laws and support the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

  Building on these core commitments, the group has also established a range of internal standards which set out the good employment practice which all G4S businesses are expected to follow to enable us to acquire, engage and develop our employees for our mutual benefit.

  Our specific commitments and policies in a number of areas where human rights impact on our employees and the business are set out below.

Freedom of association & the right to collective bargaining

  Our relations with our employees and their representatives are extremely important to us and we are fundamentally committed to constructive social dialogue, believing that long-term partnerships with employees and their representatives, including trade unions, can help us raise standards wherever we operate.

  In 2008 we agreed and Ethical Employment Partnership with UNI, the global union federation, which will drive improvements in employment standards across the global security industry. The agreement sets out particular terms which help provide practical support to facilitate freedom of association and offers specific commitments on recognition of legitimate and representative unions. As the first UK business to enter into such an agreement, we are proud to be setting a new global benchmark for good labour relations.

  In addition to this ground-breaking agreement, our principled support for genuine, active social dialogue is backed up in practice, and thus:

    — We have over 200 formal union recognition agreements around the world and 1 in four of our employees are union members

    — More than a quarter of our global workforce is covered by the terms of a union collective agreement, rising to over 80% in Europe

    — We have constructive relationships around the world, many going back decades—for example, in the UK our relationship with the GMB, one of the UK's largest unions, has continued for more than 40 years

Equal opportunities & diversity

  Our employees deliver the service that our customers rely on to keep them and their assets safe and secure. Our success will depend on our ability to attract and retain talented people so that we have the resources to support the challenges of our diverse customers and our continued business growth, and we therefore strive for diversity in our workforce to draw on all available talents. We value all our employees for their contribution to our business and their opportunities for advancement are equal and not influenced by considerations other than their performance, ability and aptitude.

  The size and shape of G4S is constantly changing as the business continues to grow, entering new countries and developing new service lines. Five years ago we employed 365,000 people—now we have more than 585,000 employees in more than 110 countries. One in three of our employees work in North Africa and the Middle East, one in six in Africa and one in eleven in Latin America. Our employees speak over 50 different national languages. Diversity is therefore already a source of strength for the group and one that gives us a key competitive advantage. With such a diverse workforce, we are better placed to understand the needs of our customers and identify opportunities for innovation and improvement.

  Going forward, we are building an inclusive working environment in which the best people can thrive and reach their full potential regardless of race, sex, religion or beliefs, disability, marital or civil partnership status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Our policies and practices are created to ensure that local legislation is adhered to and, in the event that none exists, provide minimum standards to which all businesses must comply.

  However, there are many examples of G4S businesses going well beyond these core requirements, for example, in South Africa, where legislation promotes diversity and inclusion though skills development and employment equity, we demonstrate and measure our commitment to Black Economic Empowerment Codes in a number of ways. For example, at Mangaung Correctional Centre, the percentage procurement spend on black enterprises, the investment in skills development and the levels of black management control are all monitored closely to help ensure the workforce is truly representative of the local community and small businesses are well supported. The commitment of the management team to diversity and to developing an inclusive culture at Mangaung has paid off in a number of ways. 83% of all employees are black and 80% of all promotions are filled by internal candidates

Health & safety

  G4S places the highest priority on promoting the health and safety of employees, always considering our employees' physical and mental wellbeing, especially in harsh or hostile environments.

  We are in the business of managing risk, whether that is people, property or possessions. The business is challenging and, in some parts of the world, dangerous. We work in hostile environments, clearing mines, providing armed escorts for convoys and dealing with the fallout from terrorist attacks. In the cash solutions markets we are often a target for attack ourselves. We fully recognise the dangers these challenges present and work extremely hard to ensure that our employees have appropriate training, equipment and back up support to enable them to remove or significantly reduce the risks they encounter at work. We also continue to work with the police authorities, trade unions and other security companies to bring those who have caused injury or harm to our people to justice and to do all we can to protect our people whilst carrying out their work.

  As evidence of our track record in this area, last year six G4S UK businesses were presented with the ultimate award for their impeccable health and safety standards. Two prison facilities (HMP Wolds & HMP Altcourse), Court Services, GCHQ, Manchester Magistrates Court and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre were recognised with Swords of Honour from the British Safety Council. This means these businesses are among the top 40 performing companies in the world to have achieved this accolade in 2008.

Employee welfare

  As a good employer, the welfare of employees is of paramount importance to G4S and we aim to ensure that employees are supported through difficult times. To help provide this support, the G4S Employees' Trust, is able to provide financial assistance, at the discretion of the fund's trustees, to employees and former employees in need of urgent financial assistance.

    — In Indonesia, the fund paid to re-build homes of a number of employees which were demolished by an earthquake.

    — In the Democratic Republic of Congo, after an employee was killed during a riot, the fund helped to support his family by paying them two years' salary.

    — In the UK, following a serious injury to an employee during service, the fund provided him with financial assistance to cover his recuperation and recovery.

    — In Canada, the fund has granted a sum of money to support an employee who is sole carer for a family member with a terminal illness.

    — As a result of post-election violence in Kenya, over 60 employees were left without homes. G4S provided a programme of support and assistance to those involved including counselling those suffering from post-traumatic stress and financial assistance to those rebuilding their homes.

  During 2008, the Employees' Trust Fund made grants totalling over £250,000 to over 130 employees who had suffered particular financial hardship, 80% of these employees were based in our new markets businesses.

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Prepared 16 December 2009