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Human rights reporting by Swedish state - owned companies

Dockberg, Johan LU (2011) JURM01 20102
Department of Law
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... (More)
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. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Den svenska staten bedriver affärsverksamhet via ett femtiotal företag av vilka staten äger minst 50% av företaget i 43 av fallen. År 2007 antog den svenska regeringen en rad nya riktlinjer gällande hållbarhetsrapportering för dessa företag. Dessa nya riktlinjer skulle tas i bruk från och med räkenskapsåret 2008. Hållbarhetsrapporteringen, dvs. den icke finansiella rapporteringen av dessa svenska företag ska korrespondera med de riktlinjer som återfinns i Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) ramverk för hållbarhetsrapportering. GRI:s ramverk syftar till att vägleda företag med deras rapportering inom olika områden, däribland mänskliga rättigheter. Den svenska regeringen menar att en effektiv rapportering av företagens verksamhet i relation... (More)
Den svenska staten bedriver affärsverksamhet via ett femtiotal företag av vilka staten äger minst 50% av företaget i 43 av fallen. År 2007 antog den svenska regeringen en rad nya riktlinjer gällande hållbarhetsrapportering för dessa företag. Dessa nya riktlinjer skulle tas i bruk från och med räkenskapsåret 2008. Hållbarhetsrapporteringen, dvs. den icke finansiella rapporteringen av dessa svenska företag ska korrespondera med de riktlinjer som återfinns i Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) ramverk för hållbarhetsrapportering. GRI:s ramverk syftar till att vägleda företag med deras rapportering inom olika områden, däribland mänskliga rättigheter. Den svenska regeringen menar att en effektiv rapportering av företagens verksamhet i relation till mänskliga rättigheter är av stor vikt för att driva en effektiv och sund hållbarhetsutveckling framåt. Den svenska regeringens beslut, att sätta upp detta ramverk för de statligt ägda företagen, är det första av sitt slag i världen. I uppsatsen granskas initialt och då komparativt i vilken utsträckning som de svenska statliga företagens rapportering inom områden mänskliga rättigheter korrelerar med de riktlinjer som sätts upp av GRI. Sekundärt diskuteras om, och i så fall hur den svenska regeringen skulle kunna justera sina riktlinjer för att effektivisera rapporteringen ytterligare. Ovan frågeställning leder oss fram till mycket intressanta, i vissa fall lätt alarmerande resultat. Ytterst få svenska statliga företag rapporterar på ett självkritiskt och transparent sätt deras inverkan på mänskliga rättigheter. Därutöver tenderar majoriteten av företagen att beskåda eventuella kränkningar av mänskliga rättigheter som en risk främst för företagets ekonomiska expandering i.e. inte en faktiskt risk för de människor vars rättigheter kränks av företagen. De svenska företagens rapportering kan inte sägas ligga i linje med de krav som sätts upp på rapportering inom området mänskliga rättigheter av GRI. För att en mer effektiv rapportering inom området mänskliga rättigheter ska kunna uppnås diskuteras olika aspekter såsom; effektivare extern verifikation av rapporterna; tvingande regler för rapportering och möjliga sanktioner för utebliven sådan etc. (Less)
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author
Dockberg, Johan LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM01 20102
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Human rights
language
English
id
1761964
date added to LUP
2011-01-21 08:50:42
date last changed
2011-01-21 08:50:42
@misc{1761964,
  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.},
  author       = {Dockberg, Johan},
  keyword      = {Human rights},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Human rights reporting by Swedish state - owned companies},
  year         = {2011},
}