On Thursday 8 June, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its updated guidelines for multinational enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct. Since their introduction in 1976, the Guidelines have been regularly updated to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving world of environmental and societal challenges. Acting as a cornerstone in promoting ethical practices and responsible behaviour among multinational corporations the guidelines support businesses in protecting their own interests but also contribute to sustainable development, human rights protection, positive societal and environmental impact.
Since the last update in 2011, there have been many societal and environmental changes that businesses have had to navigate. Recent introductions of human rights and environmental due diligence legislation like the Lieferkettengesetz and Apenhetsloven make the latest update even more important to guide companies in acting responsibly.
The Guidelines include key updates on due diligence, better protection for at-risk persons and groups, alignment of agreed climate change and biodiversity goals as well as recommendations on how enterprises are expected to conduct due diligence products and services associated with their products and services. Much of which is specifically referenced in the emerging due diligence legislation that nations are introducing around the world.
Key updates include:
- Recommendations for enterprises to align with internationally agreed goals on climate change and biodiversity
- Inclusion of due diligence expectations on the development, financing, sale, licensing, trade and use of technology, including gathering and using data
- Recommendations on how enterprises are expected to conduct due diligence on impacts and business relationships related to the use of their products and services
- Better protection for at-risk persons and groups, including those who raise concerns regarding the conduct of businesses
- Updated recommendations on disclosure of responsible business conduct information
- Expanded due diligence recommendations to all forms of corruption
- Recommendations for enterprises to ensure lobbying activities are consistent with the Guidelines
- Strengthened procedures to ensure the visibility, effectiveness and functional equivalence of National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct
We’re pleased to see the update addresses many of the challenges we see in our work to support our clients to drive up standards across global supply chains and support both ESG regulatory compliance and their wider ambitious sustainability goals.
Progressive guidance such as this provides clarity on what is expected of businesses and enables a clear framework to supports the work that is still very much needed to positively impact people and the planet.