The current Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) landscape is complex and multi-faceted, creating hundreds of initiatives, often with their own code or set of standards and principles offering guidance on social and environmental issues. In developing their own CSR approaches, businesses are guided by standards, principles, conventions and other acts, developed and formally agreed by governments, derived from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Global Compact (UN) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Q-Park has decided to use the OECD Guidelines and the UNGC Principles, these being two of the world’s foremost corporate responsibility conventions and these both complement and reinforce each other in many ways. Furthermore, they can readily be used in conjunction with other instruments.
Explanatory materials have been developed to outline their relationship with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines.
Q-Park’s responsible business conduct is primarily based on one of the most broadly accepted definitions of sustainable development published by the former World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) in 1987.
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Part of the mobility chain
Q-Park stands for ‘Quality in parking’. This fundamental choice for quality forms the core of our vision on our corporate social responsibility. With our parking facilities and associated services for our parking customers, Q-Park wants to be an integral part of the mobility chain. Regulated and paid parking, preferably in clean and safe facilities, offers an answer to the current and future challenges posed by the urban environment. It is on these topics that we engage in dialogue with local authorities.
The population is still growing and urbanisation continues. More than two-thirds of all Europeans live in urban areas. This is also where approximately 85 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is generated1. This increasing economic activity also has consequences for the quality of life. Cities have to contend with congestion, traffic cruising for a place to park, reduced accessibility, air pollution, and unattractive and unsafe streets and squares, full of parked cars. To prevent economic activity coming to a standstill, it is essential to develop and pursue an integral mobility policy.
Cities have to contend with limited space to facilitate mobility, while the number of cars continues to grow. Together with its partners, Q-Park is committed to a coherent mobility policy in which economic growth, quality of life, sustainable development, and environmental protection go hand in hand. A regulated parking and a well-thought-out pricing policy as part of the city mobility policy helps to manage the growing demand. It also shifts the cost to the user and limits unnecessary car use. Good information provision about available parking spaces and tariffs encourages mobility. Additionally, linking parking facilities with public transport, for instance by creating sufficient parking spaces for those who continue their journey by public transport and combining paid parking and public transport season tickets, also offers opportunities. Good parking facilities work in large cities as mobility machines.
The ideal parking tariff
Ideal parking tariffs are part of the mobility policy. They encourage motorists to look for cheaper alternatives, such as another means of transport (public transport or bicycle) or to park away from the centre. A parking tariff set by market forces helps to distribute parking spaces efficiently. There is therefore always sufficient space for those who want to pay to park in the inner city. Q-Park has extensive knowledge of this topic and advises city councils in this area.
Parking facilities are the showpiece for a city, shopping centre, station or hospital. At least, if they offer hospitality, because it is an art to make them both functional and attractive. Q-Park is committed to making parking facilities which are easy to find and accessible, available and easy to use, and which are also clean and safe and fit in with their surroundings.
Good use of limited space
Many private parking facilities are empty in the evenings and at weekends. To make better use of the limited space available, we work together with the owners of these locations to open them up for short-term parking. For this, we have developed a specific service whereby we also create value.
Part of the attractive city
The user or the local authority pays for the facilities which are essential to an attractive, accessible and viable city. Parking is not an end in itself. It is the shops, cafés and restaurants, culture, nightlife, centres of education and good hospitals that attract people. Visitors want to park their car near their destination. For them, the price is less important than being able to park nearby. Currently, some cities are developing into magnets, and for these centres, offering free parking is not the solution. Other cities, where the attractiveness is decreasing, are lagging behind.
Parking facilities are more expensive and more sustainable than on-street and off-street parking. Compared to the higher cost of construction, operation and maintenance, a car park contributes to pedestrian-friendly and high-quality public spaces.
Viable public space
A well-organised urban area offers ample space and encourages people to move around on foot, by bike or by public transport, which has a positive influence on their health and wellbeing. Q-Park is not in favour of unnecessary car usage, but promotes good parking facilities that function as nodes. Squares and streets change from traffic areas to places where people can move informally, safely and socially. In addition, a clean and safe parking facility seems to encourage responsible behaviour, not only in the facility but also in the surrounding area.
Jobs for practical people
As parking company, Q-Park offers interesting attractive work for people who like to take a practical approach. Our parking hosts and call centre staff are the local face of the familiar voice of Q-Park. They have direct contact with the customer and make the difference for Q-Park. They know they are appreciated for this. We ensure that our employees are well-trained and have customer focus. We also work on improving their resilience to aggression or violence, because that occurs occasionally.
Paid parking helps reduce car usage in cities, thus also reducing CO2 emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Good traffic flow, for instance with parking route information systems, has a positive effect on air quality. Dynamic parking tariffs - more expensive during peak hours - help to channel car usage.
Electric cars and shared vehicles
In an increasing number of Q-Park parking facilities, customers can recharge their electric car. We also reserve special parking spaces for partners who offer car sharing programmes.
Own operating activities
Q-Park endeavours to improve the environmental performance of its own parking facilities, its fleet, and its offices. In addition, we seek to influence the environmental performance of our major business partners in the value chain.
01. Source: Europa Decentraal (a body that advises local government bodies in the Netherlands), March 2014.
For Q-Park, corporate social responsibility (CSR) means being prepared to include economic, social and environmental aspects in our strategy. But we go further, we actually involve these aspects in the decisions we make. Q-Park offers openness over the consequences of what we do for people, society and the environment. Our CSR awareness focuses on sustainability performance within our chain: Q-Park as a whole, each of our country organisations, our customers and society.
For Q-Park, complying with legislation and prevailing standards is a minimum requirement. In our view, CSR is exactly that which an organisation does of its own volition.
People, Planet, Profit
Through its CSR policy, Q-Park endeavours to achieve a balance between the three Ps of the Triple P principle: the economical (‘Profit’), societal (‘People’) and environmental (‘Planet’) consequences of its activities in the short and long-term. Here we distinguish between factors that Q-Park decides for itself, such as our own operating activities in the parking facilities we own or have in long lease, and the factors on which Q-Park can only exercise its influence. Examples of these factors include parking management in property owned by third parties and the mobility habits of our customers.
The CSR policy forms part of the long-term business plan. The policy choices are based on our own quality promise and our CSR vision. These are in line with developments in the European economy and the car parking market, and with the European Union Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) and in future will also take the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into account.
Q-Park selects ambitions that fit in with our own strategy and that are applicable throughout the organisation. By defining specific goals, critical success factors (CSFs) and performance indicators (PIs) we ensure that our performance can be compared from one year to the next. Only in this way can we take specific action and adjust direction where necessary.
Stakeholders' opinions and expectations are essential input to Q-Park to evaluate and improve the quality and continuity of the services and operating activities. This is why we continually consult our country management teams, employees, partners and shareholders and why we involve them in our activities.
In addition, for each specific project we decide with which relevant stakeholders we will enter into dialogue. Communicating with these stakeholders is also a good way to keep abreast of trends and developments, to share knowledge and experience, to build confidence, and to prevent or resolve problems.
We answer legitimate questions and accept our accountability through our annual CSR reports. In this we follow the guidelines given in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 at Comprehensive application level and the EU SDS and the UN SDGs.
Responsibility for the CSR policy and its implementation lies with the executive board. Q-Park has a CSR committee that makes recommendations to the executive board concerning the CSR policy, including stakeholder involvement. The CEO chairs this committee.
The CSR manager is responsible for the process of gathering consistent and accurate data on time for the accountability of the policy. By providing interactive feedback to the countries and business units, the CSR manager generates greater understanding of the performance indicators and greater involvement to improve the performance.
The CEO and the directors of the country organisations are responsible for the result-oriented execution of the policy.
The CSR committee endorses the principles of corporate governance with proper supervision and transparent reporting. The duties and responsibilities of its management are carefully defined in the Q-Park Governance Code. The rules applied by the legislator applicable to two-tier board companies are anchored in the articles of association.
The CSR vision as we have defined it forms an integral part of our strategy and our core activities. We manage the organisation based on a balanced scorecard, which also includes the non-financial aspects, and this is linked to the remuneration policy. In this way, we ensure the management of both financial and non-financial performance which is important for the realisation of our strategic objectives. The remuneration system has been approved by the executive board and supervisory board.
CSR accounting framework
Contents and relevance
The Q-Park annual CSR Reports provide information about the economic, societal and environmental value that Q-Park creates from the resources we use. The reports are intended for all our stakeholders: customers, employees, shareholders, banks and (financial) business partners, suppliers, governments, those living in the neighbourhood, and societal organisations. We consolidate relevant information and show what has been achieved in these areas by Q-Park and all its subsidiaries.
We apply the G4 guidelines published by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). G4 places the materiality principle centre stage. To fully comply with the G4 requirements, we conduct a comprehensive external materiality analysis every three years.
At the end of each reporting year the Holding requests the CSR data from the country organisations. Using a specially developed and standardised data collection tool, the countries gather their data and check it before forwarding it to the Holding where it is subsequently consolidated and evaluated. The reporting process is standardised and the structure of the data requested can easily be checked for completeness and reliability. The whole process has already been prepared for future external verification.
External verification increases the confidence stakeholders have in our accountability. It has a disciplinary effect on our internal organisation, but it also entails extra costs. Furthermore, it is essential that we are confident that we have the right evidence, which in itself places certain demands on an organisation of our size.
In Q-Park's current phase, the executive board wishes to focus on developing the company and our positioning in the market, and that requires our full attention. The executive board has therefore decided not to apply for external assurance. We will, of course, continue to structure our reporting in accordance with the quality standards that stakeholders expect from us.
Digitisation is not only important in our primary processes, communication increasingly takes place online. For this reason, we publish our CSR report online. In our report we no longer provide the more 'static' information as we publish static and/or generic information on our corporate website. We do create links and referrals where applicable and appropriate.
CSR reporting principles
Report scope and boundary
Our CSR report concerns Q-Park BV and all group companies in so far as these are majority holdings. For details please refer to the annual financial report. The scope of the report has been established based on the materiality analysis. The materiality matrix shows both the concerns of our stakeholders as well as the impact or influence of Q-Park on the various aspects.
We report on the elements on which we have direct influence and on which we have an impact. We do not report about issues on which we have less direct influence. One exception is made for the emissions within scope 3, of which the effects lie outside our organisation.
We primarily gather data from parking facilities which are owned or long-leased by Q-Park, because we can exercise the most influence on these facilities. If we have measured our performance for a more limited portion of our facilities, this is explicitly stated. When calculating the CO2 footprint of our fleet we have included all our lease cars.
Reporting standards and testing criteria
We report according to the G4 guidelines at Comprehensive application level. The report contains standard disclosures according to the ‘GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines’. The Construction and Real Estate sector supplement does not sufficiently reflect the nature of our business, which is why we do not apply this. However, we have taken note of the relevant points mentioned.
Q-Park's policy is based on the EU SDS, ISO 26000 self-declaration, ICC Code, OECD Guidelines and UNGC Principles. For our energy consumption, our greenhouse gas emissions and our CO2 calculations we use the GHG Protocol.
Data gathering and control
The data about non-financial performance is gathered annually in the countries where we operate and in the holding company. The questions and definitions were drawn up in 2010 in cooperation with external experts and since then have been further improved and adjusted. Where possible, corrections have also been made to data from previous years.
In addition, we have drawn up a protocol with a clear explanation of our performance indicators and definitions, to avoid any misunderstanding.
To ensure the quality of the information, the reporting process is standardised and the data reporting structure is checked for completeness and reliability. For some parts of the models, such as data collection and the CO2 footprint calculation, we have made use of experts' opinions and estimates. There is therefore a degree of inherent uncertainty to these calculations. The figures we report are the best possible estimates. We will continue to improve our methodology in the future as our insights continue to evolve.