Responsible Business Conduct Policy

Last checked on:
10 April 2024
Published on:
3 September 2021

The Dutch government offers financial support to companies that do business abroad. Companies must show Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) to receive this support. 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 worldwide. It does not matter whether they do business in the Netherlands or abroad. The international programmes must follow the RBC implementation policy.

Why RBC?

The Dutch government expects Dutch companies that do business abroad to show responsible business conduct. 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

2. Minimise negative outcomes, increase positive outcomes

We look at RBC risks and opportunities 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 is not yet) following the OECD Guidelines but would like to do so. For example, a company may pay regular wages 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 influence companies' sustainable behaviour positively. With our advice and inspirational examples, we help companies in that direction. By introducing funding requirements, we aim to influence the behaviour of companies.

5. Proportionality

The amount of attention a company needs to pay to RBC 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.

Commissioned by:
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Is this page useful?