Zodiac Maritime Agencies - CR Verification

Zodiac LogoZodiac Maritime Agencies gains significant advantages from independent verification of its Environmental and Safety Report.

There is a general recognition throughout industry, commerce and the public sector of the increasing need for transparency across business operations. There is recognition that they are increasingly coming under the spotlight as much for the ‘non-financial’ aspects of their operations as for the financial. 

Further information : www.zodiac-maritime.com



Zodiac Maritime Agencies gains significant advantages from independent verification of its Environmental and Safety Report. 

There is a general recognition throughout industry, commerce and the public sector of the increasing need for transparency across business operations. There is recognition that they are increasingly coming under the spotlight as much for the ‘non-financial’ aspects of their operations as for the financial. 

Increasingly well informed and engaged procurers are interested in how the organisations it buys services and products from impact on the environment, how it treats the welfare of those that work directly for them and indirectly through the supply chain in addition to its interaction with local communities around the world. There is a growing understanding that these ’softer’ issues involving aspects of corporate social responsibility can directly impact on the bottom line. And in a world where images and news can be beamed around the world within seconds, it’s recognised that reputation and brand are now inherently part of the long-term viability of the business. 

Legal requirements to externally report non-financials are gradually increasing globally and there is growing awareness of the value that reportable Corporate Responsibility (CR) policies and practices are having on the bottom line. Many organisations, particularly those closest and best known to the consumer are taking this on board with formalised CR practices including a commitment to produce annual reports on their environmental, health and safety and sustainability practices.

This is increasingly being recognised within the maritime sector where several pieces of new environmental legislation will be having an impact over the coming years, including a greater need for fuel efficiency and control of emissions. Generally there is also a greater recognition of the need for continual improvement in the way that goods are transported at sea.

In a highly regulated and controlled sector, it is therefore surprising that there are still relatively few organisations that choose to have their environmental and health and safety reports independently verified. One such organisation is global ship management company, Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd, headquartered in the UK.

Zodiac manages a large fleet of container ships, bulk carriers, car carriers, chemical and gas tankers and has an international workforce of more than 7,000 seafarers of which 3,000 will be on-board at any time. Responsible for carrying out a full set of management activities from sale and purchase, through to day to day activities of technical, crew, commercial and safety management, the company has recently published its third report, Health, Safety and Environmental Report 2012 which is available for download from its website. The report details the progress made in meeting its objectives and targets over the last 12 months together with information of interest to stakeholders.

Choosing verification from the start

Choosing verification from the start

Unusually Zodiac opted from the outset for external and independent verification of its first report published in 2011 which looked at data in the 12 months up to December 31st, 2010. While this was the first time Zodiac had put this information out for public scrutiny, the performance data produced by its environmental, quality and health and safety management systems had been feeding into internal reporting processes for some years to help inform and shape management decision making. 

Changing market conditions, the recent focus on transparency and increasing public scrutiny prompted Zodiac to be one of the first in its sector to formalise its reporting process and publish while also seeking external assurance. This was a decision that was really beneficial as Stephanie Moffatt, Environmental Executive at Zodiac responsible for implementing the report explained.

“Having our first environmental report externally verified was a very useful process. The benefits from choosing independent verification have outweighed the resource and cost involved over the three years since the publication of our first report. 

“We believe the actual verification process itself and the inclusion of the LRQA assurance statement within the report has given added credibility in our marketplace.”

A broadening scope

A broadening scope

Throughout the three years that Zodiac has produced annual reports, the scope of the reporting has broadened year on year. With the publication of the first, the focus was the environment. The previous year had seen the establishment of a dedicated Environmental Department clearly signifying the growing importance of environmental issues at boardroom level. Prompted by the growing interest in environmental issues within the sector, Zodiac also recognised the benefits from being able to demonstrate the robustness of its data management system to its stakeholders; a point made clear by the CEO in his Foreword to the 2010 Report which introduced LRQA as the verifying body.

Key recommendations made by the LRQA verifier were to further expand the breadth of future Reports and to formalise its materiality processes to ensure that their content remained appropriate and relevant to stakeholders. This point was readily taken on-board by Zodiac and the 2011 Report was expanded to include information on the safety of its fleet and the well-being of their crew at sea - topical issues of interest to the shipping sector. The 2012 Report has seen the addition of the organisation’s approach to sustainability.

“Recommendations made by our LRQA verifier have helped strengthen our data management processes. The recommendations over the three reports are an important element in us continuing to develop and improve our reporting processes and in helping influence the shape and direction of each Report,” comments Stephanie.

“For example, a key recommendation in the 2011 report was to formalise the materiality process, which is to ensure that we report on those issues that are important to our stakeholders and to the industry.

“We began with formally documenting our awareness of topical issues, regulatory and policy discussions and participation in industry events. This process helps provide us with the evidence base so that we can make informed decisions on what content to include,” explains Stephanie.

In its approach to strengthening its materiality processes, Stephanie found 'The Materiality Report’ produced by AccountAbility in association with LRQA and BT which you can download here a useful guide. This report first published in 2006 explores the ideas behind materiality, and contains useful case studies of how other organisations have approached it. Usefully, it outlines a materiality framework ideal for first-time reporters.

Relationship with LRQA

Relationship with LRQA

Zodiac became one of the first in the ship management sector to gain certification to the EMS standard, ISO 14001 in 2001 which it integrated with the ISO 9001 Quality Management System certification achieved in 1996. Most recently, Zodiac have achieved certification for OHSAS 18001 to help improve occupational health and safety, and are also working on ISO 50001 to support energy efficiency improvements on board vessels. The data from this integrated management system has helped inform management decision making throughout this time and much of the data gathered for inclusion within the Report has been generated by its certified management system.

“The output from our management system provides much of the input to the Report although we have expanded beyond to include other areas. We have used LRQA from the beginning to certify our management systems and it therefore made sense when choosing a verifier to opt for someone who knew our systems,” explains Stephanie.

The relationship extends far beyond management systems. Zodiac has used the services of Lloyd’s Register for many years. Lloyd’s Register currently class over 60% of the existing Zodiac fleet of 148 vessels and have secured over 75% of the new construction tonnage. And going forward Lloyd’s Register is working with Zodiac on a number of technology and operational efficiency projects.

It is this knowledge of the Zodiac business as part of the Lloyd’s Register Group and as its management system certifier that places LRQA in a position of strength as Ged Farmer, LRQA Lead Verifier explains.

“A combination of organisation, industry and systems knowledge is crucial for Corporate Responsibility and report verification work. It allows us to provide our clients with significant added value in terms of existing knowledge and relating recommendations directly to their business processes. Verification of data can also introduce efficiencies to the management systems assessments by integrating relevant activities.

“We have built up extensive knowledge of Zodiac’s systems which gives us a unique advantage and means we’re not ‘going in cold.’ While we use a different team to undertake the verification to the assessment of the management systems or other services, we can communicate as a team to deliver the services required by Zodiac. This is an approach we undertake for all our clients where possible,” Ged concludes.

The way forward

The way forward

Corporate report verification provides important independent assurance on issues that are relevant to marine sector stakeholders at a time when the industry itself is coming under close scrutiny for its environmental and sustainability issues. In an industry which doesn’t routinely publish sustainability or CSR Reports, Zodiac clearly sees the advantage of both choosing to report and having its reports verified. And it’s a decision that has been well received by its clients, employees and other stakeholders.

“One important part of the sustainability agenda is transparency throughout our activities. We know from meetings with our key customers – the ship owners and operators – that these issues are important to them.

“They want the assurance that we take issues of fuel efficiency, and emissions to air and sea amongst many others, as a priority and that we have the performance data to prove this. As sustainability issues go up the boardroom agenda across the industry we see there being commercial advantage in our approach.

“Using LRQA has helped us strengthen our processes and this is evident in that we were able to meet the recommendations of the first report. We plan to continue using LRQA verification because we believe our reports are better because of it,” concludes Stephanie Moffatt.

Further information