Human rights reporting by Swedish state - owned companies
Abstract: In 2007 the Swedish government adopted a set of guidelines mandating all Swedish state-owned companies to conduct a non financial report i.e. a sustainability report that is to be independently verified. The sustainability report is to be in line with the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative framework (G3), a framework of guidelines for how to conduct sustainability reports. The framework includes among other aspects the area of human rights. Effective external reporting, the Swedish government argues, is to advance and enforce the companies’ work with issues such as human rights. This thesis specifically investigates to what extent the Swedish state-owned companies’ sustainability reports, within the field of human rights (HR), correspond with the HR reporting guidelines in the G3 framework. It is being discussed if the Swedish government should, and if so how, adjust the guidelines for the state-owned companies in order to foster a more qualitative HR reporting by the state-owned companies. A comparative study between 37 sustainability reports submitted by Swedish state-owned companies in 2009 and the G3 framework has been carried out in order to analyze current trends within human rights reporting. Even though the Swedish government very recently adopted the guidelines clear patterns within the HR reporting can be seen. The HR reporting falls for instance short in comparison with the much more extensive environmental reporting. Worrying is the absence of self-criticism by the companies when reporting the HR challenges the companies might face, i.e. many reports are unbalanced and lack transparency. The HR reporting by the Swedish state-owned companies can therefore, at this point, not be considered being in line with the G3 HR framework. The reasons to such shortcomings are being discussed and suggestions given to how the reporting could become more efficient. It´s being argued that it’s most certainly not the lack of time to integrate the reporting procedures that have lead to the actual result. Instead I argue that stronger regulations of mandatory character must be integrated with today’s voluntary guidelines in order to foster a more qualitative HR reporting, today´s “comply or explain” approach should also be looked over. Additionally the lack of demand of knowledge within the field of HR on company managerial level should be overseen.
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