Corporate Social Responsibility Policy
The Dutch government offers financial support to companies that do business abroad. To receive this support, companies must show Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The government gives this support via international programmes. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency funds these programmes. The funding aims to make the activities of Dutch companies the most sustainable and responsible in the world. It does not matter whether they do business in the Netherlands or abroad. The international programmes must follow the CSR implementation policy.
The Dutch government expects Dutch companies that do business abroad to show corporate social responsibility. Entrepreneurs should be aware of the positive and negative effects of their activities. These effects can be direct but also indirect, caused by suppliers and customers. Examples are opportunities and risks related to working conditions. Other effects are related to child labour, health and the environment.
Companies can apply for funding. They can also apply for other types of support for doing business abroad. To do so, they must show that they follow the OECD Guidelines.
Basic principles for international programmes
There are 5 basic principles for international programmes.
1. Follow the OECD Guidelines and other standards
- The corporate social responsibility guidelines from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). To receive grants or loans for doing business abroad, companies must show they follow the OECD Guidelines. This is true for international trade and investment projects and other types of government support. Read the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
- Companies cannot get funding for projects in countries on the FMO Exclusion List.
- Some grants and loans also have to follow the IFC Performance Standards.
- For animal welfare activities, follow the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains.
2. Minimise negative outcomes, increase positive outcomes
We look at the risks and opportunities of CSR when doing business abroad. Specific activities in other countries may lead to social and environmental risks. We want entrepreneurs to avoid or minimise such risks as much as possible. We also want entrepreneurs to contribute to more ambitious aims or global issues.
3. Work on improvements
Where necessary, we may agree with companies on improvement plans. We may do so if a company is not (or not yet) following the OECD Guidelines but would like to do so. For example, a company may pay the regular wage to workers in a specific country, even though the living wage is higher. In such cases, companies can work on an improvement plan. Such a plan could lead to a gradual wage increase. Improvement plans must be specific. They must also contribute directly to a better implementation of the OECD Guidelines.
4. Have a positive influence on organisational behaviour
We want our funding to have a positive influence on the sustainable behaviour of companies. With our advice and inspirational examples, we help companies in that direction. By introducing requirements for funding, we aim to influence the behaviour of companies.
The amount of attention a company needs to pay to CSR when applying for funding depends on the type of project. Our project advisors will help you with this throughout the advice process. Some companies may ask for our help to carry out an exploratory study in another country. In that case, we will emphasise investigating social rights, human rights and environmental risks. Companies that want to invest abroad can rely on our help to take measures to avoid social and human rights abuses. Companies must also take measures to prevent environmental risks.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs