Are you struggling to engage with a company that is or may cause harm to your human rights, community, or environment? The OECD Guidelines may help you achieve meaningful engagement.

What the OECD Guidelines say about meaningful stakeholder engagement

The OECD Guidelines say that, including as part of carrying out due diligence, companies should meaningfully engage with stakeholders or their legitimate representatives, with respect to activities that may significantly impact them related to matters covered by the Guidelines. The Guidelines and OECD due diligence guidance outline what meaningful stakeholder engagement entails. You can use the OECD Guidelines to demand that companies:

  • Ensure interactive engagement with relevant stakeholders, which are defined as persons, groups, or their representatives who have rights or interests related to the Guidlines that are or may be affected by a company’s operations, products, or services.
  • Conduct ongoing engagement with stakeholders that is two-way, conducted in good faith by participants on both sides, and responsive to stakeholders’ views.
  • Ensure stakeholder engagement is timely, accessible, appropriate, and safe for stakeholders.
  • Identify and remove potential barriers to engaging for people in positions of vulnerability or marginali
  • Where applicable, respect and ensure stakeholder engagement as a right in and of itself.
  • Note the particular importance of engaging before business activities occur, such as in the planning and decision-making stages of projects involving, for example, intensive use of land or water that could significantly affect local communities.


During complaints or outreach to companies, civil society or communities should explain why the business activity is or may significantly impact relevant stakeholders. You can urge the company to prioritise (as is permitted under the Guidelines) engagement with the most severely impacted or potentially impacted stakeholders – not just stakeholders that agree with the company or are easier to access.

Read the text

  • Chapter II (General Policies): pararaph 15; commentaries 2 and 28
  • Chapter IV (Human Rights): commentary 50
  • Chapter VI (Environment): paragraph 2; commentary 72
  • Chapter VII (Combating Bribery and Other Forms of Corruption): commentary 90

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