Frame of reference for responsible business in South Asia

This report aims to promote responsible practices among businesses operating in the South Asian region, in alignment with the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The report suggests that respect for the human rights of all stakeholders should be at the core of Responsible Business Practice (RBP). It identifies a responsible enterprise as one, which minimises the negative impact and maximises the positive impact of its operations to protect human rights of stakeholders within its sphere of influence and on the environment.

Frame of reference for responsible business in South Asia

The report of PIC aims to promote responsible practices among businesses operating in the South Asian region, in alignment with the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The report suggests that respect for the human rights of all stakeholders should be at the core of Responsible Business Practice (RBP). It identifies a responsible enterprise as one, which minimises the negative impact and maximises the positive impact of its operations to protect human rights of stakeholders within its sphere of influence and on the environment.

Basic principles for RBP include:

  • compliance: businesses must comply with the laws of their country of origin, the country in which they operate, with international conventions and treaties to which those countries are signatories, and to basic precepts of good corporate citizenship and behaviour
  • accountability to all its stakeholders: stakeholders should consciously engage with business enterprises through partnerships and multi-stakeholder initiatives to influence them and to build their capacity to act responsibly
  • business operations should assist in the achievement of the MDGs: it is the responsibility of businesses to ensure that the development of the region is not held back due to their business operations
  • institutionalisation and internalisation of responsible management practices: separation of management from ownership is a necessary characteristic of good corporate governance and a formal mechanism and process must be adopted by businesses to raise RBP issues with their boards for the purpose of incorporating them into business strategies and decision-making

The paper expands on these principles giving businesses an outline of key areas to be integrated into their core business practices. It calls upon businesses to institutionalise the basic principles of RBP and demonstrate it by an officially written RBP policy developed in wide consultation with stakeholders and placed in the public domain, such as, a company website/annual report.

The report is produced by Partners in Change for the South Asian Forum on Responsible Business SAfoRB.