Ethical Performance
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EU to launch practical guide for SMEs on guiding principles

February 2012

The European Union, having established a new corporate responsibility strategy, is to compile the first international human rights guide for small companies.  

The EU produced its ‘agenda for action’ on CSR in November (EP13, issue 7, p1), which announced a revamped definition of the idea along with a plan for promoting corporate responsibility as a means to restore lost faith in business resulting from the financial crisis.

To implement the strategy from the bottom, the EU has employed the Danish consultancy Global CSR and the Brussels-based consultancy Bernard Brunhes International to develop a short, practical guide for small European companies on managing human rights issues.

The UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights will be “the crux for this novel strategy”, says the EU. The main function of the guide will be to advise on compliance with the framework created by John Ruggie, the UN special representative on human rights in business.  

The document will be supplemented by case studies and a short film to clarify the problems and opportunities in working with human rights. It will be published towards the end of this year.

Sune Skadegaard Thorsen, chief executive of Global CSR, said: “We will strive to ensure that the guide will create value for SMEs, and that our work will be conducted in a continuous dialogue with the EU Commission, experts, trade associations, businesses and other stakeholders.”

During the next year, the European Commission has also pledged to support a networking and capacity-building programme for organisations that advise smaller enterprises on CSR issues, to improve the quality of advice available.

EU | Europe | Human rights

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