Responsible Business Conduct
Doing business right is part of the American brand.
It is what our companies stand for and part of the value proposition in doing business with them.
The Economic and Business Affairs’ Bureau’s Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) team works with companies and other stakeholders to promote responsible business practices globally, based on the international best practices found in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“OECD Guidelines”). The OECD Guidelines are the most comprehensive set of government-backed guidance on responsible business, dating back 40 years, and covering a range of topics which include human rights, labor rights, supply chain due diligence, the environment, anti-corruption, and more. The RBC team promotes the best practices found in the Guidelines in several key ways:
As a member of the OECD, the U.S. government is required to establish a National Contact Point (NCP) in order to (1) increase the awareness of the OECD Guidelines, (2) facilitate practical application of the Guidelines, and (3) offer a voluntary dispute resolution and mediation mechanism for issues arising related to a company’s adherence to the OECD Guidelines. In 2015 and 2016, the U.S. NCP has worked with parties to successfully resolve two disputes between companies and workers in their global supply chains, and offered mediation in several other cases which has led to significant and positive outcomes. More information about the U.S. NCP is available here.
In 2014, the United States committed to develop a National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct to be transparent about how the United States government encourages companies to achieve high standards of responsible business conduct – and champions those that achieve such best practices. It also is meant to highlight what the U.S. government is doing, including with partners, to encourage an enabling environment for responsible business conduct. The RBC team has been closely involved in the White House-led development of the NAP, which was released in 2016. More information about the National Action Plan is available here.
The annual Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) recognizes U.S. firms that uphold the highest standards of responsible business conduct in their global operations. Established in 1999, the ACE seeks to highlight ways in which U.S. companies represent American values in the way they do business, in line with international best practices such as the OECD Guidelines. In 2016, the ACE will be given out in four categories: (1) inclusive hiring practices, (2) transparent operations, (3) sustainable oceans management, and (4) small or medium enterprise. More information about the 2016 ACE is available here.
While separate from some of the team’s other work, the RBC team also coordinates and oversees the Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP), which serves the U.S. Government in an advisory capacity by providing a forum for discussion of issues and problems in international economic policy. Committee membership consists of senior leaders from industry, labor, civil society, and academia. More information about the ACIEP is available here.