Italian ceramic companies are committed to ensuring occupational safety, to providing advanced corporate welfare and to entering into partnerships with training institutes for research projects.
This is demonstrated by the awards received by a number of sector companies including the Sodalitas Social Award and the Modena Province CSR Award for activities conducted for the benefit of workers and the local community1.
The areas of action
The European Commission describes Corporate Social Responsibility as “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis” 1.
CSR initiatives focus on the following factors: quality of work, employee relations, community relations and projects, and corporate governance.
The Italian ceramic industry considers occupational safety to be of fundamental importance and adopts numerous safety measures to reduce the risk of accidents and to protect workers. Many Italian ceramic companies have published guidelines and information handbooks2 produced in cooperation with trade unions and public authorities to inform all employees about the hazards that may be present in factories. There are also numerous protocols2 setting out the plant operation and management methods agreed upon by Confindustria Ceramica, the local health authorities in the Modena and Reggio Emilia provinces and the trade unions for avoiding workplace accidents:
- memorandum of understanding for the installation, assembly and maintenance of plants, machinery and equipment (1997);
- memorandum of understanding for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the ceramic industry (2000);
- memorandum of understanding for the prevention of accidents involving falls from heights in the ceramic industry (2002);
- protocol for the compilation of safety data sheets for digital screen printing inks including instructions for employee training (2014);
- memorandum of understanding and procedures for checking for the presence of tremolite in feldspars (2017).
Corporate welfare practices
Confindustria Ceramica has promoted a survey2 to investigate perceptions, knowledge and practices regarding Corporate Welfare in the Italian ceramic industry. 45 companies representing 57% of the sector total were surveyed by means of a web survey with an online questionnaire. It emerged that Italian ceramic companies have implemented numerous welfare initiatives in the following areas:
- special rates and conditions for personal services;
- takeaway meal service;
- company libraries;
- special rates and conditions for laundry and auto repair services;
- medical services for employees;
- company nurseries;
- scholarships for children of employees;
- flexible working hours.
FONCER: the Supplementary Pension Fund for the Italian ceramic industry
The work carried out by Confindustria Ceramica together with the trade unions to set up a supplementary pension scheme for the Italian ceramic industry culminated in 1997 in the creation of FONCER2, the Supplementary Pension Fund for employees in the ceramic and refractory materials industry. The aim of the scheme is to provide workers with supplementary pension benefits on top of the state pensions they receive on retirement. This was one of the first examples of corporate welfare promoted by a business association in cooperation with the trade unions.
External CSR practices
The Italian ceramic industry is keen to maintain close links with the local area and communities. For this reason, the sector’s companies collaborate with external organisations and training institutions2 to offer opportunities for research, education and professional growth through school-to-work programmes and theoretical and practical activities focused on the Italian ceramic industry.
The social sustainability goals of the UN 2030 Agenda
The UN 2030 Agenda approved in 2015 sets 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030 to address critical issues facing the economy, society and the environment3. The Italian ceramic industry is aligned with the 2030 Agenda2 with regard to the theme of social sustainability and carries out CSR activities consistent with the following points established by the UN:
- goal no. 3, to ensure good health and well-being;
- goal no. 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all;
- goal no. 8, to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.