Over 90% of the companies that responded to FIBS’s Finnish Corporate Sustainability Meter survey feel that companies’ efforts to ensure respect of human rights should be regulated on the international level. International regulation with the same requirements for everybody could make the companies’ work easier. More than half of the companies that responded to the survey have responsibility certificates for their products and services.
The corporate responsibility network FIBS has published its first Finnish Corporate Sustainability Meter of the year for major companies operating in Finland. Inspired by a story on human rights issues in chocolate production by the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the topics of the survey included regulations concerning human rights, responsibility certificates and the verification of responsibility reporting.
94% of the respondents thought that companies’ efforts to ensure respect of human rights should be regulated on the international level. None of the respondents wanted national regulation, and 6% wanted the company itself to decide on the work for human rights. In the open comments of the survey, verifying that human rights are respected was considered challenging and expensive for individual companies. Equal requirements set by international regulation would make it easier for individual companies to manage their responsibility process.
54% of the companies reported that their products or services have responsibility certificates (such as Fair Trade, UTZ, MSC, FSC, PEFC, RSPO). However, some of the companies that did not have a responsibility certificate still used certified products. Certificates are seen as a credible way of ensuring that the raw materials of products have been produced sustainably.
Two thirds of the companies use external verifiers for responsibility reporting; they are considered to increase the reliability of the report.
“The results of our survey confirm the need for international regulation and raise the question of whether national legislation on corporate responsibility is ultimately necessary. At the moment, companies that invest in responsibility cannot compete equally with low-cost production, which poses a challenge. International regulation could help both with securing the operating conditions of individual companies as well as promoting sustainable business on the global level,” says Kimmo Lipponen, the CEO of FIBS.
Antti Isokangas, Chief Communications and Corporate Responsibility Officer at Kotipizza Group and Jorma Mikkonen, Director, Corporate Relations and Responsibility at Lassila & Tikanoja agree.
“The companies that act responsibly are already doing their best to ensure that human rights are respected in their supply chain. However, it takes a bit more than just the goodwill of companies to change things on the global level. International regulation is the only way to ensure that no company can gain a cost advantage by taking the path of least resistance,” says Antti Isokangas, Chief Communications and Corporate Responsibility Officer at Kotipizza Group.
“The discussion about human rights is usually linked to third countries and the use of child labour. From the point of view of a service company, challenges related to human rights are reflected in the fear and prejudices towards differences. The operations of publicly listed companies are strongly guided by the investors’ ESG ratings, in which social responsibility and the importance of respecting human rights is highlighted. The investment market operates internationally, which means that from this perspective, too, it’s natural to harmonise regulations concerning human rights on the international level,” Jorma Mikkonen, Director, Corporate Relations and Responsibility at Lassila & Tikanoja, describes the situation.
The Finnish Corporate Sustainability Meter was conducted on 19 January 2021, and 35 heads of corporate responsibility and experts from FIBS’s major corporate members responded to the survey. You can participate in the discussion and comment on the results on Twitter (@FIBSry) with the hashtag #yritysvastuupulssi.
The purpose of FIBS’s Finnish Corporate Sustainability Meter is to offer the media and other stakeholders the views of major companies on current issues related to corporate responsibility and sustainability. The surveys are conducted on topics related to corporate responsibility that arise from the news and public debate. In addition, they include other responsibility issues that are of interest to the general public in the light of the latest research or innovations, for example.
The panel of respondents to the survey includes heads of corporate responsibility and experts from a total of 45 major companies in Finland (the companies are listed at the end of the press release). Approximately one half of the panel of respondents represent publicly listed companies. Specific companies cannot be identified from the responses. The next Finnish Corporate Sustainability Meter will be published in the spring of 2021.
FIBS’s partner in designing the Finnish Corporate Sustainability Meter and the related communications is Avidly.
Summary of the FIBS Finnish Corporate Sustainability Meter survey 1/2021 (in Finnish)
Kimmo Lipponen, CEO, FIBS
Tel: +358 40 758 7247
Antti Isokangas, Chief Communications and Corporate Responsibility Officer, Kotipizza Group
Tel. +358 040 511 3799
Jorma Mikkonen, Director, Corporate Relations and Responsibility, Lassila & Tikanoja
Tel. +358 500 453 454
Companies included in the panel of respondents of FIBS’s Finnish Corporate Responsibility Meter:
Caruna Networks Oy
Fazer Group Oy Ab
Lassila & Tikanoja Oyj
Metso Outotec Oyj
Nokian Renkaat Oyj
Nordea Pankki Oyj
Paulig Group Oy
Posti Group Oyj
Saint-Gobain Finland Oy
Stora Enso Oyj
Tokmanni Group Oyj
Transmeri Oy Ab
FIBS is the largest corporate responsibility network in the Nordic countries, a leading promoter of sustainable business and developer of expertise. FIBS’s goal is to inspire more and more Finnish companies to start innovating productive solutions to local and global problems in cooperation with other companies and organisations, so that they can rise to the top of sustainable business globally. All companies and organisations that promote responsible and sustainable business can become members of FIBS.