Corporate responsibility initiative averted, but now counterproposal comes into force

More than 200 Swiss companies, but also public hospitals or electricity suppliers, will have to report from 2023 on how they treat their employees and fight corruption. Experts now warn that board members who ignore the obligation could end up in criminal proceedings.

Although the Swiss Responsible Business Initiative (hereinafter: “RBI”) failed by a razor-thin margin in a referendum on 7 November 2020, the counterproposal to the RBI was accepted. The Swiss parliament had passed this counterproposal in June 2020 to take the sting out of the initiative. The exercise succeeded; the RBI failed.

But this counterproposal also has significant consequences. In the future, all larger undertakings will have to present an annual report on how they behave in the areas of environment, social affairs, workers’ rights, corruption, and human rights. They must show what they do to counter risks and how they measure the success of their measures. The law came into force in 2022 and will be applicable as of 2023. This means that the first non-financial report for 2023 must be published in 2024.

Dr. Daniel L. Bühr, Honorary Chair of Ethics and Compliance Switzerland, among others, reveals what the consequences for these undertakings are and best practices to do at present in an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

These are the upcoming dates for our Annual General Meetings:

Thursday, 21 March 2024
Thursday, 20 March 2025