Are you fighting for more transparency by a company over how it operates and what harms it causes around the world? The OECD Guidelines may help you fight for more and better transparency by companies.

What the OECD Guidelines say about transparancy

The OECD Guidelines encourage companies to share information on responsible business conduct issues, including as part of their due diligence process and also when that information could be considered “financially material” for investors (that is, affecting the value of the company). You can use the OECD Guidelines to demand that companies:

  • Disclose responsible business conduct information including as a part of their due diligence. Information shared should be timely, reliable, clear, complete, and comparable.
  • Disclose information important to different stakeholders, such as on human rights and environmental impacts for communities affected by the business’ activity.
  • Take special steps to overcome barriers for communities seeking information, such as language or access barriers for remote or impoverished communities.
  • Disclose issues related to their environmental and social impacts whenever these could be “financially material” to investors, including in the future. Information is “financially material” if it could influence investors’ valuation of the company.
  • Disclose information on capital structures, group structures, their control arrangements, and beneficial owners.
  • Ensure that disclosures meet international standards.
  • Adopt or align with emerging global best practice in disclosure, such as on climate and emissions.


Civil society should demand equal disclosure by companies of “financially material” issues and responsible business conduct issues and harms, noting that this supports the expectations that companies communicate during their due diligence process and meet emerging highest transparency standards. Wherever possible, civil society should try to show that the company’s failure to address social and environmental harms could be “financially material” by hurting the company’s value. Civil society should also remind companies that they should take extra steps to overcome communication barriers for impacted communities.

Read the text

  • Chapter III (Disclosure): all paragraphs; commentaries 30-34 and 39.

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