on International Economic Policy|
Corporate Ethics and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Released by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, October 26, 2000
Corporate social responsibility has become an area of increasing activity in recent years. In an effort to be responsive to the consumers, investors, employees and the expectations of the public at large, business firms have been paying increased attention to the subject. A growing number of firms are developing internal codes of conduct and are exploring a variety of other means for integrating ethical standards into their management systems.
These activities have been complemented by the development of industry-wide codes and principles on corporate responsibility developed in concert with other groups, including trade unions and NGOs. U.S. business has been in the forefront of these developments and has been a leader in bringing high standards with them wherever they operate.
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises have the potential to be one of the most significant recent developments in this area and hold the promise of providing greater coherence through a broadly supported comprehensive set of principles on good corporate conduct.
The Guidelines were originally developed in 1976 and have been revised several times since then, most recently in June of this year. However, the scope of the changes resulting from the present review and its confluence with the growing interest in the area of corporate responsibility has substantially increased the level of attention they are receiving.
There are a number of unique features that contribute to their potential in this regard.