Responsible Companies

Image courtesy of European Parliament

We develop and promote new business models that better integrate societal interests in corporate purpose, governance, and decision-making.

We recognize the key role that corporations play in society but we also see the struggles of the corporate sector to act sustainably and ethically and to respond to the fundamental challenges we face as a society, including climate change and inequality.

By working with businesses, leading scholars and NGOs, we strive to revision the corporation and its relationship with society. In addition, in the area of human rights we aim to bridge existing global governance gaps and strengthen the enforcement of laws and individuals’ ability to assert their rights.

Non-Financial Reporting

The way corporate activity is accounted for is crucial to shape the way investors and other stakeholders see and assess a corporation and essential for a corporation’s ability to create sustainable value. The first EU-wide requirements to report environmental, social and governance information will come into effect in the financial year 2017 in the form of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive. Companies will have to disclose information on their business model, policies, risks and outcomes regarding environmental, social and employee matters; respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues; and board diversity. Furthermore, the directive requires companies to explain how they deal with those risks.

The requirements will apply to more than 6,000 large public-interest undertakings (in essence, publicly traded corporations, banks and insurers) with more than 500 employees. The objective is to lay the foundation for a new model of corporate reporting that complements financial transparency with other information necessary to understand a company’s development, performance and position, as well as the impact of its activity on society.

We have been involved in the legislative process and in the European Commission Expert Group on Non-financial Reporting and continue to monitor and assist in the transposition of the European framework to national law. We advise companies on how to comply with the requirements, produce meaningful reports that serve their needs, as well as those of investors and other stakeholders, and improve their corporate governance.

The Purpose of the Corporation

The purpose of a company is whatever its founders wish it to be, as long as it is legal. The definition of purpose will drive business strategies and define their goals and milestones, it is the basis from which everything else flows when we come to discuss the corporation.

The principle of maximising shareholder value, which has dominated policy-making and corporate governance since the 1970s, not only forces companies to create negative externalities but has detrimental impacts on innovation, sustainability and even financial performance over the long run..

The Purpose of the Corporation Project provides a strategic, open-source platform for leading business and civil society experts and academics interested in promoting the long-term health and sustainability of publicly listed companies policy-making and business management. The goal of the project is to develop and promote new options for corporate governance models and regulation.

Business and Human Rights

There is an international consensus that business entities have a duty to respect human rights irrespective of where they operate. The problem is that corporate related abuse of human rights occurs mostly in weak governance countries with dysfunctional or inefficient judicial systems, while the law governing responsibility of companies and their directors in their home, e.g. European, jurisdictions insulates them from the legal consequences of adverse impacts because the harms are typically caused out by foreign subsidiaries or suppliers.

This legal gap encourages and rewards irresponsible behaviour.

We work to solve this problem by promoting the concept of human rights due diligence and solutions to barriers facing victims of human rights violations.