Government promotion of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC)

The Dutch government wants to ensure that Dutch companies engage in socially responsible business practices abroad. Responsible business conduct (RBC) means they should take account of human rights, working conditions and the environment in their operations. 

Promoting responsible business conduct

Dutch authorities have taken a number of measures to promote RBC.

Overview of the new RBC policy, October 2020

Overview of the new RBC policy.

Imposing a due diligence obligation on companies

  • The government proposes drafting a law, preferably at European level, that would require companies to do business responsibly. A European approach would have greater impact, and the European Commission is currently working on a proposal for a law on a due diligence obligation. The government sent a letter to parliament in February 2020 setting out how the Netherlands is contributing.
  • The EU already has a law in place aimed specifically at companies that import certain types of metals and minerals. The Conflict Minerals Regulation requires them to ensure their products are from responsible sources. The Commission gives more information about the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation on its website.
  • Since 2017, the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) has required large public-interest companies with more than 500 employees, including listed companies, to include a non-financial statement in the directors’ report. The statement must provide information on labour conditions for employees and how the company deals with environmental and social issues, threats to human rights, and corruption and bribery. 

Setting conditions to encourage RBC

  • By setting conditions on due diligence in public procurement contracts, the government can encourage responsible business conduct.
  • Companies only qualify for government assistance for doing business abroad, like investment support and participation in trade missions, if they can show that they comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. This is set out in the RBC framework, which is implemented by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). 

Financial incentives for RBC

  • The government provides grants through programmes like the Fund for Responsible Business or the Fund Against Child Labour to companies that engage in RBC and want to address abuses. Companies can apply to the RVO for these grants. SMEs with sustainable, international ambitions can use RBC vouchers to help pay for advice on making their international supply chains more sustainable. 

Sector-wide cooperation makes RBC easier

Providing information about RBC and facilitating implementation

More information

Read more about the smart mix of measures to promote RBC in the letter to parliament of 16 October 2020. The policy document describes the main elements of the new RBC policy.