The government considers it important that companies report on their CSR activities at home and abroad. When necessary, they should also engage in dialogue with their partners. For this reason, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy examines 500 CSR reports each year in order to establish a Transparency Benchmark.
The EU has now also formulated a Transparency Directive (in Dutch). This directive requires large companies to be transparent about non-financial activities concerning strategy, performance and risk in the areas of environment, working conditions, human rights, corruption, and diversity in senior positions. Over 6,000 companies will be subject to the directive throughout Europe. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy expects that approximately 100 Dutch companies will be affected by the new law. By comparison, the annual Transparency Benchmark of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy examines the quality of the annual reports of the 500 largest Dutch companies.
European Member States have a few years to incorporate the EU Directive in their national legislation. In the Netherlands, this is expected to occur in 2016. Minister Henk Kamp (Economic Affairs) indicated in November 2013 that the Transparency Benchmark (in Dutch) would constitute the Dutch transposition of the Directive. Comparable legal obligations have been in place in other European countries for some time.
Guidelines for sustainability reports
An important international standard for social reporting is provided by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an independent institute that has developed general guidelines for sustainability reports. Companies can use these guidelines for reporting on the economic, social, and environmental aspects of their activities, products and services.
Special guidelines for SMEs
The Global Reporting Initiative is primarily aimed at multinationals but may also be applied to SMEs.