Compliance | What to report under the Norwegian Transparency Act? Part 2: “Setting the scene” – Company overview
According to the Transparency Act (Section 5), the annual reporting must include “a general description of the organisation, its area of operation and its policies and procedures guiding the handling of actual and potential adverse impacts on fundamental human rights and decent working conditions.”
In practice, companies will at least need to address the following topics according to guidance by the Consumer Authority (Nw. Forbrukertilsynet):
- a high-level description of how the company is organised providing enough detail to inform the reporting on impacts and mitigating measures;
- what kind of products and services are offered;
- where the company operates and which markets its products and services are offered in;
- how the company’s work with fundamental human rights and decent working conditions is implemented in its internal policies and procedures; and
- what channels and mechanisms the company has implemented that contribute to uncovering adverse impacts on fundamental human rights and decent working conditions.
Setting the scene
Most companies already publish information on their business operations and the markets they operate in on their homepage or in their annual reports. Information about the business concept may however not provide sufficient background to understand how the operations may impact fundamental human rights and decent working conditions. The part of the business operations involving the highest risk for potential adverse impact is perhaps not described in sufficient detail when compared to other business segments? We recommend tailoring this general overview with view to what is coming further on in the report: What does the reader need to know to understand actual and potential adverse impacts that were identified and the measures that were implemented? A targeted business overview may even help to reduce the number of requests companies will need to answer under the Transparency Act.
For companies that are part of a larger corporate group, it is important to ensure that it is made clear how each company fits into the bigger picture and what applies to each of the group companies. A report published by a parent company may for example include references to the individual reports published by its subsidiaries if the group does not publish a common report. The information should be easily accessible for the public.
What not to include in the report?
Companies are inter alia not required to publish any information which is considered to constitute a trade secret or which is otherwise competitively sensitive. What constitutes trade secrets must be assessed for each company, but names of suppliers can be competitively sensitive in some markets, and another typical example is data regarding technical devices and procedures or other operational and business matters which need to be kept secret for competitive reasons.
Questions? Do not hesitate to reach out to our Compliance & Risk Management team.