1 The state obligation to protect human rights
1.3 Activities in the EU [page 16-17]
“On 18 April 2013, the European Commission made a proposal to amend the accounting directive for the disclosure of so-called non-financial information of certain large companies.
The proposal shall be applied to companies of significant public interest with more than 500 employees on average on the account closing date. According to the proposal, such companies should include in their annual report a declaration stating material data related to the environment, social affairs, employees, human rights, and the prevention of corruption and bribery. The declaration should contain a short description of the business model, a description of the policies related to the areas mentioned above as well as the due diligence related to them, the results obtained in the policies, the main risks and risk management that apply as related to the areas mentioned above, and the non-financial performance indicators significant for company business. Instead of a declaration attached to the annual report, companies may also publish separate reports on certain conditions.
In February 2014, the negotiations between the Commission and the Parliament reached an agreement on the proposal, and the proposal is likely to be submitted to Parliament in April. After this, it will also be approved by the Council of the European Union. The proposal is due for approval before the end of the parliamentary term in May 2014. If the proposal is approved, it must enter into force in Finland in 2016. In this case, it is estimated that the reporting obligation would apply to the financial year 2017 at the earliest. On a national level, Finland will initiate the preparations to implement the directive as soon as possible.”
2 The state and companies
2.1 The state as an economic operator [page 22]
“The Ownership Steering Department in the Prime Minister’s Office has set a CSR reporting requirement for unlisted companies that are either majority-owned by the state or entirely state-owned. This also includes human rights. The obligation requires that companies submit reports in accordance with the best practices in the branch of activity concerned and, at minimum, adopting the standards corresponding to those of their central competitors.
As an owner, the state expects that the administration and management of state-owned companies take human rights into consideration in a responsible and transparent manner, both in their own organisation and in their subcontracting chains. (…)”
3 Expectations towards companies and support services
3.2 Reporting on corporate social responsibility [page 26]
“Reporting on corporate social responsibility may be a significant factor in monitoring the human rights impacts and risks of companies. In the Resolution on Corporate Social Responsibility, the Finnish Government encourages companies to publish the non-financial data on the social and environmental impact of their activities. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of the Environment are involved in organising the annual competition for reporting on corporate social responsibility. The competitions have been organised since 1996 with a view to encourage companies to report on CSR. When reporting becomes mandatory for some of the companies (cf. Section 1.3 on non-financial reporting), the question of reforming the competition must be addressed.
International information on the content of companies’ responsibility reports is available in a database maintained by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). In Finland, Corporate Responsibility Network FIBS acts as a partner for GRI for all Finnish companies and organisations to register their responsibility reports in the database. By means of the database, companies’ responsibility reports can be compared by branch of activity and by geographical area. The database also provides useful information concerning the international corporate social responsibility standard to which each report refers.
As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that
- human rights be adopted as the annual theme of the reporting competition.
Principal responsible party: Ministry of Employment and the Economy, schedule before the end of 2015.”