“Social responsibility is the responsibility of an organisation for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour”
(Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility, ISO 26000)
The Social Research Centre is dedicated to creating world-class social research solutions to support informed decision-making on contemporary social issues. At the heart of our mission is a commitment to conducting ethically sound research and to behave in a socially responsible manner. We extend this commitment to all of our stakeholders – our staff and others within the research community that we collaborate with, the people who participate in the research we undertake, and those that we conduct research for. This is demonstrated through our governing principles which include:
- actively enabling the participation of marginalised and vulnerable members of the community in our research
- encouraging and supporting our people to reach their full potential
- working to the highest ethical standards, and
- undertaking research that has a positive social impact.
The governing principles highlight our commitment towards being socially responsible and our efforts to conduct our business appropriately so that we have a positive impact on the community, the environment and our people. We believe that this is critical to the success of the Social Research Centre.
Our responsibilities cover three broad areas: our staff, our community and the environment.
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The Social Research Centre has a workforce of 70 permanent staff and up to 250+ casual staff. Our people make our organisation and so their welfare is paramount. All employees that are permanent, fixed term (more than six months) and regular senior casual staff are included in our performance and development review process. These reviews are an important part of the Social Research Centre’s efforts to grow and develop our employees, through regular discussions and planning with line managers. This contributes to the Social Research Centre’s culture of continuous improvement and ensures that we achieve our strategic objectives. Staff also have access to professional development and study assistance for further study.
The health and well-being of our staff is also paramount. All our staff have access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), where they can access up to six counselling sessions per annum for themselves or a member of their immediate household free of charge. In addition, we have trained volunteer Workplace Contact Officers from within the organisation who are able to provide confidential support, advice and guidance to any individual member of staff on an issue of concern for them. We also generate and publish quarterly Health and Wellbeing Tip Sheets to encourage healthy living and healthy habits. In addition we provide free fresh fruit for all of our staff, free annual flu vaccinations for those who want them, and off-street bike storage for staff who are able to cycle to work.
We are currently participating in White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program. The Program recognises workplaces that are taking active steps to prevent and respond to Violence Against Women (VAW), accrediting them as a White Ribbon Workplace. Full accreditation is anticipated by end-2017.
We also ensure we have adequate numbers of staff who are trained as First Aid, Workplace Contact Officers and Fire Wardens across both of our Melbourne sites.
Our workplace is compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
Our community encompasses a wide range of groups, including our clients, our research partners and collaborators, the individuals and organisations who participate in our research, others in the social research community and the wider community itself. The Social Research Centre has taken an active decision not to participate in research projects for organisations which could have a detrimental impact on our community and for this reason we do not undertake research for tobacco or alcohol companies. Our research portfolio instead focuses on areas that are for the greater good of society, such as population health (for example, tobacco control research, early childhood development, supporting people with a disability, increasing understanding of mental health); social policy reform (for example, tackling racism, discrimination, violence against women, gambling, crime, long-term unemployment, low income and other factors that can lead to disadvantage). We strive to ensure that our research is as inclusive as possible, through adopting flexible approaches (the use of translators and translation services, for example), undertaking ethically sound research, and full compliance with all relevant professional standards such as the Australian Market and Social Research Society’s Code of Professional Behaviour.
In addition to the orientation of our research activities, we encourage, recognise and support our staff members’ own involvement in charitable activities such as ‘Movember’, ‘FebFast’ and ‘Dry July’. We participate in the annual ‘Steptember’ challenge, where staff walk 10,000 steps per day for the month of September and raise funds for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. We encourage staff to participate in individual charitable/volunteer activities and showcase these through our internal communications.
At the Social Research Centre, we believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices. We understand that even the smallest changes can go towards making a big difference in our growing organisation. As a result, we actively recycle, including used coffee pods, batteries and reducing paper waste. Where possible, we source and use carbon-neutral paper. We take simple steps to save energy, cut costs and reduce greenhouse emissions. Lights and equipment are switched off in rooms that are not in use as well as at the end of every work day. Staff members are encouraged to either take public transport or cycle to and from work with our highly accessible location and ample bike storage facilities. Where it is necessary for our staff to travel by air, we ensure where possible that we make the appropriate contribution to offset the carbon emissions.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of the Australian National University (ANU) all profits from the Social Research Centre flow back to the core business of research and education. The mission and governing principles that the Social Research Centre adheres to align very well with ANU’s research, education and impact mission.