The Ukraine Crisis
Expressing our Support
The ICRS joins the global community in expressing our concern for the people of Ukraine and the growing humanitarian crisis in the country and surrounding areas.
We will seek to provide our members with resources and information to support CR&S practitioners and their organisations to make responsible business decisions.
This page will be updated as and when new resources become available.
If you have a resource you would like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ukrainian Institute of London has listed a number of ways to provide support, including charitable organisations, demonstrations of support, and links to further information.
The UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched a fundraising humanitarian appeal for Ukraine. DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities, including CARE, Save the Children, Oxfam, and the British Red Cross, to raise funds quickly and effectively respond to overseas disasters.
The UN Global Compact and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) developed a Business Guide to urgently respond to Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis. The Guide provides concrete action for businesses to support the Secretary-General’s three-month Flash Appeal for people in Ukraine, and a Regional Refugee Response Plan for the situation outside, under the leadership of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has referred to materials developed by the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and the International Committee of the Red Cross on guidance and good practices for companies operating in conflict-affected contexts. This material identifies key principles and practices to help guide business actions.
Summary of ICRS Members' Forum on Ukraine
The ICRS hosted a Members’ Forum to discuss the rapidly developing humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine and share and discuss how CR&S practitioners can help their organisations provide impactful, sustainable support. Through breakout groups focused on topics such as humanitarian relief and the business and human rights implications of operating in Russia, members highlighted the following points for consideration.
- The role of the CR&S practitioner in this space is to educate and inform the business and its employees of the most impactful ways of providing support. Colleagues often want to help through hands-on and tangible ways, but NGOs working on the ground need financial assistance and cash first.
- The conflict in Ukraine and the business response is different to other conflicts that have come in the past, like in Syria, or are ongoing, like in Ethiopia. CR&S practitioners are facing questions internally from employees and inclusion networks on why the business is supporting relief efforts here, as opposed to the others. Members identified the potential escalation and resulting global impact of this conflict given NATO’s involvement as a key differentiator, while also highlighting that previous conflicts and refugee crises should not be forgotten and business still has a role to support.
- Furthermore, there is and will be a need for practitioners to balance the need for an immediate response to the crisis with the longer-term support that will be needed from the business community over the next 2-5 years. Practitioners should bear these future needs in mind and consider with whom they can become an ongoing partner and provide financial as well as core business support, e.g. pro bono advice, digital platform support, etc.
- Practitioners also need to be mindful of how and when they communicate with employees in the UK and other markets, as most campaigns are being driven by EMEA. EMEA-based employees may have familial connections to Ukraine, Russia, or other Eastern European countries and be dealing with complex, personal issues. Others may be very fearful of the potential for nuclear escalation. Overall, there is a clear need to provide mental health and wellbeing support to employees across the business.
Business and Human Rights Considerations
- Members identified that businesses must consider both the effectiveness of any decisions being made to cease operations in Russia or close offices and the large impact this will have on those employed there. There is already a significant impact being felt by the Russian people in the face of economic sanctions and there is a risk that the continual exit of global businesses from the country will only feed into the wider, harmful political narratives being communicated.
- For those businesses that are pausing or closing their operations, there are further considerations to be made on the responsibility they have to current employees, contractors, or others within the value chain regarding pay, contracts, etc. We can see that some businesses who have decided to stop operations have still committed to paying their staff, which appears to be a responsible decision.
- Members identified that this is a moment to be active and share opinions internally about how best to use each of our organisations’ unique influence to support not only this crisis, but also the wider structures for humanitarian responses.
Overall, this is relatively uncharted territory for organisations, and it is the role of the CR&S practitioner to educate, inform, and advise their organisation on how to navigate these waters ethically and sustainably.
We are open to hosting further sessions on this crisis to provide support for our members. If you would like us to host another forum, please let us know at email@example.com.