To the graphic design agency Phoenix Design Aid in Denmark, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not an activity but a way of business.
Phoenix Design Aid was founded in 2005 by Dennis Nielsen, CEO and Managing Director. The company draws upon more than 20 years of experience within design and printing processes. A strong environmental commitment has always been a main focus in the way they do business.
“Environmental sustainability is the core value of everything we do, and we demand the same of our customers and partners as well,” says Nielsen.
Documented CSR compliance:
Phoenix Design Aid is a small, yet international company. The head office, located in the town of Randers, North East on the Danish mainland Jylland, has eight full-time employees. The company also has five distributed offices in Copenhagen, New York, Dublin, Geneva and Mumbai. Phoenix Design Aid provides graphic services to organisations internationally, mainly non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
As the head office is rather small, they trust an extensive network of 26 collaboration partners globally to support the delivery of printing, translations, distribution and more. All suppliers must be able to document CSR compliance.
“We only work with customers and suppliers who comply with the UN Global Compact principles, as well as our own code of conduct. We need to be able to confirm that are services are ethically delivered,” Nielsen explains.
Phoenix Design Aid run what they call a triple bottom line, with three main pillars: People, Planet and Profit.
“This means that all our actions must benefit our people, including employees, clients and partners. Our actions must also benefit the planet, as well as supporting a healthy business,” Nielsen says.
To ensure and confirm that they work continuously in compliance with best-practices on quality, ethics and occupational safety; they have certified their management system to relevant ISO standards.
“Phoenix Design Aid has worked with DNV, now DNV Business Assurance, since 2006, and has been certified to the management system standards for quality, environment and occupational safety - ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. DNV has been our accredited certification body and a support on our certification journey in these years.”
Certification of social responsibility
When the Danish national standard for corporate social responsibility, DS 49001, was introduced in Denmark a couple of years ago, Phoenix Design Aid found it to be a perfect match for their environmentally and sustainably focused graphic agency.
“It was easy to decide that we wanted to certify to this standard,” Nielsen says.
DS 49001 is based on the ISO 26000 guideline for social responsibility. Certification to DS 49001 for companies based in Denmark confirms an organisation’s commitment to social responsibility, including factors such as management, human rights, environment, community involvement and consumer issues.
“We were the first graphic agency in the world to be CSR certified. Combined, the four management systems standards we are certified to are integrated into our daily operations, and constitute our way of business,” says Nielsen. “Integrating management system standard principles as a way of business also ensures continuous improvement.”
According to Nielsen, it took one year from when they decided to go ahead with the DS 49001 certification, until the certificate was issued by DNV Business Assurance. The road to CSR certification was comprehensive and required thorough preparations. However, the fact that they were already certified to management system standards within quality, environment and safety simplified the process.
“As I see it, both Phoenix Design Aid and our customers benefit from CSR. One factor is of course that it contributes to a better reputation. With the CSR certification, we are able to document our CSR efforts. Additionally, we see that it’s a market differentiator. We have a consistent supply chain that we know comply with ethical principles, and we can prove this to our customers. Having a global, network of CSR compliant suppliers enables us to reduce our own and the customers’ costs, no matter where they are located,” Nielsen explains.
Best practice example
Their dedicated CSR efforts have also made an impression on the UN. UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has used Phoenix Design Aid as a best practice example during both the climate change conference COP 16 and COP 17.
”We are members of UN Global Compact and the UNEP lead Climate Neutral Network. We are very pleased to be able inspire others and enable them to benefit from our positive experiences,” Nielsen concludes.