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Every day it is happening – small and large human right violations. Working conditions that are under expected standard, humans experiencing not having power over their own lives. We all know that it is happening, but it is easy to shut our eyes and think that it does not affect us. Or our business.

With the Transparency Act you no longer have this opportunity – now you have to open your eyes and see the reality you find yourself in. Whether you want to or not.

It also applies to you

“The most common thing we see now, is that many think that the transparency act does not apply to them. In short, we can say that it applies to all larger businesses.” Siri Engesaeth from Factlines is crystal clear; it will only become worse to postpone this. “No one expects that you magically can reduce the risk of all links in the chain, but you have to try! And you have to start that work now.”

The goal of the transparency act is not to arrest somebody, but to make wrong things right. The focus on human rights and unworthy working conditions are as important sustainability work as anything else, because with social sustainability we lift the world population together.

“There is not anybody that is going to be disqualified through the new act”, Engesaeth continues, “the goal is rather that you get a shift where those who have human rights focus wins, while those who cut corners have to show that they’re doing it!”

Must handle the spotlight

In practice the new act means that all large businesses must provide transparency around who they handle human rights and decent working conditions, also at their sub-suppliers. From July 1st. 2022 information requests from the general public need to be replied within three weeks, and in one year businesses have to publish a statement on how they work with human rights and decent working conditions on their website.

Annina Luterbacher of the legal agency BAHR recommends all businesses to anchor their focus and work around the subject throughout the business. You have to map and assess where there are actual or possible consequences that the business actively or inactively contribute to. “I recommend that you ask yourself some simple questions; How does our supply chain look? What partners do we have? How are human rights respected in our ranks?”

“This is risk work similar to what you are doing within other areas of the business,” she continues, “so most people are already familiar with this.”

Not too late

The transparency act enters into effect July 1st. 2022, and can come as a surprise for many. However, there is no reason to let this work be, even if one might be behind schedule as of now.

Luterbacher has one advice for everybody that is getting started with the work now; “You will account for this work before June 30th every year going forward, and every finding is to be presented either in the annual report or own website. In other words, getting started now is beneficial. Develop a plan for how to work with due diligence going forward, who will be responsible for the work, and anchor this with the board as soon as possible. Establish a good internal process for how information requests are to be answered, so that important deadlines are not missed. Forbrukertilsynet (The Norwegian Consumer Agency) provides high-level descriptions on how to get started on their website.”

“The largest challenge is that many post-pone this work and does not start doing anything”, Siri Engesaeth of Factlines states. “Another aspect is that supplier and customer follow-up is demanding if you use old-fashioned tools like e-mail, pdf or phone. But that it is demanding does not give you the opportunity to shut your eyes and disregard requirements imposed!”

Factlines provide a digital solution specialized within sustainability and the transparency act. A SAAS- solution, a web-based tool, that makes it possible for those who use it to get risk information directly from their suppliers in time to make good business solutions. “We deliver the facts that enable you to deliver on demands.”

And deliver – you must!

“There is no way around,” Engesaeth continues. “Excuses like “This isn’t pertaining to me”, “But we are Norwegian”, or “This is a family business” is not going to cut it – the transparency requirements must be met!

The purpose of the transparency act is to focus effort on human rights and make sure that all employees, all over the world, are ensured satisfying working conditions. No matter what.

If you can, through your transparency, contribute to this – isn’t that just a good benefit?