Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) means that businesses are expected to assume responsibility for their impact on people, the environment, and the communities and societies in which they operate.

The Government expects all Norwegian businesses to exercise corporate social responsibility, whether they are state-owned or privately owned, and whether their activities are in Norway or abroad. Enterprises in which the state has an ownership share are expected to systematically practise CSR and be leaders in this area in their respective fields.

The Government believes that exercising corporate social responsibility is important for safeguarding shareholder value, and expects all companies in which the state has an ownership share to act ethically.

The Government has both general and more specific expectations relating to CSR. The specific expectations are in four core areas:

  • climate change and the environment
  • human rights
  • workers’ rights
  • anti-corruption

The Government’s expectations build on national and international standards, conventions and norms for reporting.

The Government bases its policy on the key international standards for CSR: the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the UN Global Compact.

Norway’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines raises awareness of the Guidelines and handles complaints regarding possible breaches of the Guidelines by Norwegian businesses with international operations. The NCP is a non-judicial grievance mechanism for dialogue and mediation.

Transparency and disclosure are key to the development of corporate social responsibility. Large enterprises are required under Section 3-3c of the Accounting Act to report on their CSR activities. Public disclosure requirements are increasingly regulated. The work of the EU in this area may lead to the development of regulations of relevance to Norway. 

In order to prevent tax evasion and the use of tax havens to conceal financial information, large enterprises and public-interest entities that are active in the extractive industry or in the logging of primary forests are required to report on a country-by-country basis. In addition, Norway has entered into a number of new bilateral tax information exchange agreements in recent years.

Kompakt  is the Government’s consultative body on matters relating to CSR.