Scroll Top
19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

Swiss Responsible Business: Parliament’s counter-project

In November 2020, the Swiss Responsible Business Initiative was rejected by Swiss voters by a narrow margin. Today the Swiss Federal Council has launched consultations about the implementation of the counter-project adopted by the Swiss Parliament.

According to the Swiss Federal Council, the counter-project provisions are an improvement in two aspects:

  1. Large Swiss companies must, in a spirit of transparency, account for the risks generated by their activity: they will have to draw up a report on the environmental and social issues as well as employees issues, respect for human rights and the fight against corruption. They will also have to present the measures they have adopted in these areas.
  2. Companies operating in risk areas will have to undertake extensive due diligence in the sensitive areas of child labor and conflict minerals.

Note: The actual rules on due diligence are still to be detailed in the proposed law.

This counter-project has been criticized by the supporters of the Swiss Responsible Business Initiative. Chantal Peyer lobbyist for the “Responsible Business Initiative” (Corporate Justice), representing more than 70 Swiss non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade unions commented in Le Temps last year :

“For us, the finding is clear. Parliamentarians have failed to take into consideration the ongoing societal changes and companies may continue to violate human rights with impunity. The position of the major economic lobbyists has triumphed, without questioning. The counter-project on the table, which only formulates an obligation to report on its activities, was already adopted five years ago by Brussels. However, the EU has recently observed that these directives, while they bring a little more transparency, do not translate into credible improvements on the ground.”

The consultations on this counter-project will end on the 14th of July.

No matter the level of regulation imposed, there are many responsible businesses that have already implemented good sustainability programs with real impact on the ground. In this video Manisha Chowdhry, Commercial & Environmental Lawyer at Logan & Partners, discusses with Till Olbrich, partner at Massari Olbrich, in the context of the Swiss Business Initiative from last November, some good examples of sustainability programs that have been implemented.

See also

sustainability companies legal advice

Why sustainability is NOT only for big companies

Sustainability is a core business issue for all companies, regardless of the size. Till explains why all businesses should care about having a sustainability program.

As a company that wants to implement a sustainability program, where should I start?

From theory to practice – where should a company start when deciding to implement a sustainability program. Here is Till’s advice.

Why comply with the Swiss Responsible Business Initiative? Isn’t a company’s goal just to maximize shareholder wealth?

Manisha Chowdhry is discussing with Till Olbrich, partner at Massari Olbrich, about why it is important to comply with the Swiss  Responsible Business Initiative and what do investors think about sustainability.