An essential factor in implementing CSR is the involvement and role model function played by the management and business owners. CSR should influence every area of a business and its strategies and form a key component of corporate culture. Exercising CSR also brings benefits for example when participating in public tenders or using Swiss Export Risk Insurance services.
OECD Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct in practice
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct represent the most comprehensive multilateral code of conduct for ensuring responsible business conduct. They are directed towards all companies that operate on an international scale – from small businesses to large corporations. By publishing a guidance, SECO and the Global Compact Network Switzerland support enterprises with the implementation of the OECD Guidelines. This guidance contains helpful information on the implementation of CSR principles and uses case studies to illustrate how the principles are applied in practice. The guidance also includes a self-test (PDF, 66 kB, 04.12.2019) and RBC Compass that allows you to evaluate the individual strengths and risks at your enterprise as they relate to CSR.
Due Diligence procedure
Companies are expected to identify the risks of their activities and those in their supply chain and avoid negative impacts where possible. The OECD guidances on due diligence for all and specific sectors provide practical recommendations for companies. The OECD e-learning Academy on Responsible Business Conduct is at no cost and provides a unique opportunity to advance the knowledge on risk-based due diligence. In addition, the association Go for Impact has published a toolkit for choosing an appropriate sustainable supplier management tool. For example, filter by industry, topic and type of tool you want (e.g. guide, web-based tools). Moreover, the Federal Administration has published a practical guide for human rights due diligence (PDF, 426 kB, 04.01.2023) (further tools for human rights due diligence are available on the website of the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights).
Turning to corporate social responsibility is a way for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to become greener and more socially conscious and therefore optimize their production (cf. CSR for SMEs). The brochure (PDF, 14 MB, 11.06.2019) on human rights due diligence of SMEs of SECO and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs gives a practical overview of the opportunities and challenges of responsible business conduct. The brochure provides an overview of the steps required to implement human rights due diligence. It provides specific information for human risk assessment.
To assist Swiss companies in assessing environmental hotspots in the supply chain, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), working closely with the private sector, carried out the study “Environmental Atlas of Swiss Supply Chains” to identify such hotspots in the supply chains of eight key Swiss industries and measures to avoid or mitigate negative impacts on the environment.
Reporting and measuring responsible business conduct
Companies can base their reporting in particular on international standards. This includes reporting on the implementation of the ten principles of the UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Based on the GRI, companies should report on possible significant effects on, for example, human rights and the environment.
Furthermore, a company's commitment to CSR can be made visible and documented by certifying its management system and product. The most well-known are ISO 14000 standards for environmental management, ISO 9001 for quality management and for example the labels supported by SECO.
B Lab a non-profit organization has developed the free and confidential online tool B Impact Assessment which companies can use to measure their impact on workers, community, environment, and customers. To assess the contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals companies can apply the SDG Action Manager and participate in the 2020 launched Swiss Triple Impact program that will guide them through the SDG assessment.
The revised law and ordinance on public procurement (RS 172.056.1 and RS 172.056.11) have been in force since 1 January 2021. In federal public procurement, bidders must comply with provisions to protect workers and working conditions, and guarantee equal pay for women and men (social criteria). Public contracts for services to be performed abroad may only be awarded to bidders who comply with at least the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) (art. 12 para. 2 of the Federal Law on Public Procurement) as well as with the legal requirements on environmental protection and the conservation of natural resources (art. 12 para. 3 of the Federal Law on Public Procurement). In addition to the core ILO conventions, the contracting authority may require bidders to comply with the principles of other ILO conventions as important international labour standards, provided that Switzerland has ratified them (art. 4 para. 2). In implementing these provisions, SECO has a role in supporting procurement offices and can advise requesting offices on issues related to compliance with social criteria. The recommendations of the Federal Procurement Conference on sustainable procurement provide detailed information on social criteria and their monitoring. The knowledge platform on sustainable public procurement is continuously updated with new tools and recommendations.
The platform Boussole de Durabilité (sustainability compass) keeps enterprises and public procurers informed about sustainable procurement. It contains a database of social and environmental standards and information on developing sustainable procurement management. The ITC Standards Map also provides information about sustainability codices, standards and labels.
The Communauté d’Intérêt Ecologie et Marché Suisse (Community for environmentally friendly procurement in Switzerland) offers specialist information, for example on specific product groups (textiles, cleaning products).
Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV)
When evaluating insurance applications, SERV prioritises OECD Guidelines on sustainable lending to low-income countries, as well as environmental, social and human rights aspects, and anti corruption. In the process, it draws on the SERV’s Guidelines for reviewing environmental, social and human rights issues and above all takes into account the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct, including any reports presented by the National Contact Point of Switzerland.