The European Parliament propelled legislative steps in order to change Council Directives 78/660/EEC and 83/349/EEC as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies and groups on 15 April 2014. Once in force, provisions on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information will require the companies concerned to publicly disclose information on “policies, risks and outcomes as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity in their board of directors”. Companies that do not have an own diversity policy will have to explain why. The rules apply to approximately 6,000 companies across the European Union, all of which conduct their business activity with more than 500 employees. Disclosure rules will require them to provide concise information at group level which helps to understand development, performance, position and impact of their activity. However, companies will not be required to publish a full-fledged report. Also, the directive leaves a substantial margin of appreciation regarding the modalities of disclosure. Companies may revert to either method they consider appropriate when addressing the required information. For instance, they may use international, European, or national guidelines in this respect (e.g. UN Global Compact or ISO 26000). Once adopted by the Council and published in the EU Official Journal, the directive will enter into force. The Council is expected to formally adopt the proposal in the coming weeks, following the European Parliament’s vote. Further information can be found on the website of the European Commission. Click here
Nicolai Behr is a compliance and dispute resolution attorney in Baker & McKenzie’s Munich office. He is a member of the steering committee of GlobalComplianceNews, a compliance news website with global reach moderated by Baker & McKenzie. He is a member of the committee "International" of the German Institute for Compliance. Dr. Behr is a regular speaker on compliance and white collar topics.