Social responsibility in a modern society

Social responsibility is mainly about being more socially and environmentally considerate than the law requires us to be. Enterprises have an effect on social development wherever they operate. Having a conscious approach to social responsibility creates good working conditions, a good reputation and satisfied customers. Social responsibility can also reduce a company's costs, by making the company use energy and resources more economically. Many consumers want to know that the products that they buy have been produced in an environmentally responsible way and that the suppliers of the raw materials have been paid an acceptable price for their goods.

Companies which are actively interested in social responsibility face ethical, social and environmental challenges. There is often little difference between competing products and services in terms of utility value. A company’s awareness of its social responsibility may therefore be decisive for what customers and investors prefer. Being actively committed to social responsibility could give a company a distinct competitive edge.

The state owns many Norwegian businesses through the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Of these state-owned businesses, 21 have drawn up codes of conduct and made these publicly available on their websites.

The authorities must take their social responsibility seriously, and the subject of this year’s annual report is a good example of this. Through Altinn, companies can have access to all the relevant public information affecting businesses, including information about social responsibility. One of Altinn's roles is to provide updated information on this subject and provide relevant links to other websites which deal with social responsibility.

Globalisation means that there is an increasing need for basic international ‘good behaviour’ rules, so that companies in different countries can compete on equal terms. International organisations like the OECD, UN and ILO are working on this, and Norway is an active contributor.

Awareness of social responsibility contributes to innovation and value creation. Many businesses and organisations have made great strides in this area, but we still need to raise knowledge and awareness and develop commitment.

It is in the interests of both the authorities and businesses to contribute to social responsibility with their knowledge and guidance. The information pages on Altinn will provide updates on developments in this important area.

Trond Giske
Minister of Trade and Industry