Is a big business preventing smaller businesses from accessing a market in a way that hurts small businesses, communities, or consumers near you? Are you asking companies in a sector to collaborate to implement more responsible practices, but being told they cannot collaborate without violating anti-collusion laws? The

What the OECD Guidelines say about competition

The Guidelines say that companies should follow competition laws in all jurisdictions in which they operate. Companies shouldn’t engage in anti-competitive practices such as price-fixing or market division. You can use the OECD Guidelines to demand that companies:

  • Follow competition laws and regulations of all relevant jurisdictions where their conduct may have anti-competitive consequences.
  • Not use competition law as an unjustified excuse not to engage in responsible business conduct-focused initiatives with peers.
  • Comply with recruitment and employment policies, including when planning mergers and acquisitions, to avoid collusion between employers on salaries (wage-fixing) and hiring practices (such as no-poach and no-hiring agreements).
  • Collaborate with competition investigative authorities by promptly and comprehensively responding to information requests, and following applicable laws and safeguards.


The OECD Guidelines do not call on companies to undertake due diligence specifically for harmful impacts related to anti-competitive practices. But civil society can still call for companies to address such harms through their human rights and environmental due diligence processes. Civil society should also urge company alignment with other emerging best practice in responsible competition policy. Civil society can monitor to ensure companies meet the right balance: collaborating for responsible business conduct aims where appropriate, but not misusing sustainability as an excuse to engage in anti-competitive (”green cartel”) practices.

Read the text

  • Chapter X (Competition): all paragraphs; commentaries 121 and 122
  • Chapter II (General Policies): paragraphs 11; commentaries 15-29
  • Chapter IV (Human Rights): paragraph 5; commentaries 45 and 50
  • Chapter VI (Environment): paragraph 1; commentary 67

Additional important information

What are the OECD Guidelines?

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (OECD Guidelines) are recommendations from governments to companies on how to act responsibly. The OECD Guidelines set non-binding standards for responsible business conduct across a range of issues important to communities, such as human rights, workers rights, and the environment, and also cover issues such as corruption and taxation.

Governments that follow the OECD Guidelines must establish a non-judicial complaints body called a National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct to promote the Guidelines and handle complaints about harmful business activity. The Guidelines set good standards for all companies, but complaints can only be filed against two types of companies operating across borders:

  1. multinational enterprises headquartered in a country that follows the OECD Guidelines, or
  2. multinational enterprises operating in a country that follows the OECD Guidelines.

How can you use the OECD Guidelines?

Civil society can use the Guidelines to:

  • Raise community awareness about company standards.
  • Talk to companies to demand better conduct.
  • File complaints when companies fall below the standards.
  • Advocate for strong laws and policies on corporate responsibility.

 Further resources