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BIS issues call for views on corporate responsibility

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27 Jun 2013

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published a call for views on corporate responsibility. BIS intends to publish a framework for action on corporate responsibility by the end of 2013 and intend to incorporate the views received in shaping their final framework. Views are requested by 27 September 2013.

The call for views defines corporate responsibility as: 

The responsibility of an organisation for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment through transparent and ethical behaviour above and beyond its statutory requirements: 

One area that the call for views covers is the voluntary reporting and disclosure by companies of their environmental and social impacts and the diversity in practice. 

The new narrative reporting regulations which come into force for accounting periods ending on or after 30 September 2013 will legally require quoted companies to provide certain disclosures on areas such as their greenhouse gas emissions.  The call for views acknowledges that such quoted companies are already voluntarily disclosing their impact on the environment and society.  

However, where there are no statutory requirements to provide disclosures on their impact on the environment and society BIS highlight that there are still a large number of companies who do not voluntarily provide such disclosures.  BIS would encourage that all companies present environmental and social disclosures regardless of whether they are legally obliged to do so.  BIS note that: 

Many businesses see voluntary, non-financial reporting as an important way of engaging stakeholders and, in gathering data for reporting, a useful way to identify risks, particularly in supply chains. 

The call for views also notes that where such voluntary disclosure is made, it is presented in a number of ways often meaning that it is difficult to compare one company’s non-financial metrics with another.  BIS recommends that there is a single set of voluntary metrics which would enable non-financial metrics of one company to be able to be compared with those of another.  BIS comments: 

There must be a level of consistency in the metrics being used and, wherever possible, such metrics should be verifiable

 The call for views asks whether: 

  • Comparable, voluntary metrics on social and environmental aspects are desirable.
  • What might be the costs and benefits?
  • What role the government should play in determining what the metrics might be
  • How businesses may be encouraged to adopt them 

Aside from covering voluntary reporting and disclosure, the call for views also seeks to capture respondents’ views on other aspects of corporate responsibility such as responsible supply chain management and corporate responsibility in small and medium sized enterprises.  

The comments received will contribute to the framework for action on corporate responsibility which is expected to be published by the end of 2013.  

Views are requested by 27 September 2013. 

Click for: 

BIS press release (link to BIS website)

Corporate responsibility: a call for views (link to BIS website)

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