UK 'EAP' Firm Receives World's First Ethical Certificate
The Validium Group is the world’s first, officially recognised, ethical service provider. Following an independent assessment by certification organisation SGS Yarsley International in February, the Amersham-based provider of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) has become the first service company to be registered against the international standard for ethical and social accountability, SA 8000.
"Having an appreciation of the sensitivity of the work we carry out and the confidence we need to generate in our, customers we felt it was vital we are able to demonstrate our integrity as a provider of services to them and their employees," says Validium’s Managing Director, Mike Shaw.
An integral part of the management system which monitors the Company’s ethical and social performance, is to ensure that all suppliers and sub-contractors also conform to the principles of ethical business: "Any company is only as strong as its weakest supplier," says Mike, "To ensure our integrity we felt it was important that we knew our suppliers were also committed to these important principles."
EAPs were first introduced into the UK from the United States in the early 1980’s. Their popularity is growing with around ten per cent of UK businesses now using external companies, such as Validium, to provide employees with stress counselling and advice on medical, legal and financial matters. Validium employs a team of qualified experts to deal with telephone enquiries and has a worldwide network of qualified professionals to handle face-to-face consultations. Other services include employee audits and surveys, training, intervention options, expatriate support and private medical insurance and sickness absence management.
SA (Social Accountability) 8000 was developed by the Council for Economic Priorities Accreditation Agency (CEPAA) in consultation with a number of international organisations including Amnesty International, Avon Products, OTTO-Versand, KPMG, Body Shop, SGS, International, Textile Garment & Leather Workers Federation, Grupo MSA and Reebok. Published in October 1997 it has been designed to bring the increasing number of fragmented codes of conduct for measuring social and ethical performance into a single, auditable standard.
Its draws on all major sources of reference such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Organisation Conventions. Core elements of the standard include labour conditions, health & safety, freedom of association, working hours, compensation, discrimination and disciplinary procedures.