Norway’s NCP has made a survey mapping Norwegian business leaders’ knowledge of the OECD Guidelines and the Norwegian National Contact Point.
The majority of the business leaders report that “sustainability” and “policy for responsible business conduct” are integrated in their operations, and that the board is involved in the company’s work with responsible business conduct (RBC). However, conducting due diligence for responsible business conduct is less common; half of the business leaders report having done this. There is reason to believe that less than half actually conduct due diligence in line with the recommendations in the OECD Guidelines. The minority have relevant KPIs or systematic reporting related to RBC. Approximately one in five Norwegian companies with international activities have written guidelines that refer to the OECD Guidelines.
Low level of knowledge of the OECD Guidelines and the NCP
- 34% were familiar with or had heard of the OECD Guidelines
- 13% were familiar with or had heard of the Norwegian National Contact Point
- 15% were familiar with or had heard of the OECD guidance on due diligence for responsible business conduct.
Low level of due diligence
- Approximately half of companies with international activities have performed due diligence/risk assessments in their own operations and/or in their supply chain or among business partners.
- Nine in ten of the companies that reported they had conducted due diligence, informed that this was done in their own operations
- Less than half (47%) had conducted due diligence for RBC in their supply chain; and only one in three had assessed business partners.
Climate/environment and workers’ rights were more often covered by the assessments than were human rights or corruption. More than half of the companies reported that they had performed assessments in “other areas”; however, write-in responses indicate that these mostly did not meet OECDs definition of “due diligence for responsible business conduct”. The “workers’ rights”-category poses a similar challenge, as respondents may have conflated this with HSE practices.
Companies ask for more guidance
Approximately four in ten Norwegian companies with international activities report that they need more guidance on responsible business conduct. Slightly more companies report that they need more knowledge about performing due diligence.
Only nineteen per cent of Norwegian companies with international activities report that they have received guidance on RBC from relevant Norwegian state agencies that provide economic support or services to business.
The National Contact provides useful guidance on RBC
Informants in the qualitative part of the survey, all described the NCP as a useful and competent interlocutor, and all said that the opportunity to exchange experiences and learn from each other was the most useful part of the RBC training of the NCP.
Need for relevant information on RBC for small and medium sized enterprises
The qualitative interviews with businesses leaders, who were recruited from the sample of survey respondents, suggest that while there is momentum behind RBC, there is still the fact that small companies do not have the resources or the expertise that is available to larger companies. To the extent that Norwegian businesses of all sizes are to be considered a target audience by the NCP, a main challenge lies in adapting the Guidelines and related material in such a way that they are perceived as relevant to the day-to-day operations of actors who are far removed from the ‘responsibility-discourse’.
About the survey:
The survey is based on a selection of 600 business leaders in Norwegian enterprises. 253 of these are leaders in business with international business activity, that is, they have informed that they how owners, investors, production, export or import from outside of Norway.
For more information on the report, click here for the Norwegian article.