Ethics & business in Sweden
Sweden’s entrepreneurs and companies have proven that you don’t have to exploit people or the environment to make a profit. Global surveys regularly put Swedish companies among the world leaders when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) — taking issues such as climate change, equality, human rights and anti-corruption into account in their business activities.
Sweden is known around the world for the way it takes care of its citizens with generous welfare benefits. This same compassionate approach has become part of the Swedish way of doing business and is being exported around the world by its multinational companies.
CSR is growing among corporations of all nationalities, but Swedish companies were among the first to show that competitiveness does not have to come at the expense of compassion. Home furnishings chain IKEA is considered one of the world’s best companies when it comes to the way it deals with environmental and labor issues. Its code of conduct for responsible trading, the IKEA Way on Purchasing Home Furnishing Products (IWAY), includes specific policies dealing with issues such as child labor and forestry management.
Swedish fashion retailer H&M introduced a code of conduct for CSR issues back in 1997, and this applies to all its suppliers and subcontractors in Asia and Europe. It is based on the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the International Labor Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
Telecoms giant Ericsson was one of the first companies to support the United Nations Global Compact and has implemented its own code of conduct globally in order to protect human rights, promote freedom of association, ensure responsible management of environmental issues and prevent corruption.
Today, most of the world’s 250 largest companies have realised the importance of corporate social responsibility, CSR. Some pioneering Swedish companies quickly saw the importance of running a business in a responsible and sustainable manner and led the way. Now the concept of CSR has spread around the world.
Extensive environmental protection, active measures to improve work environments, investments in cleantech – these are all examples of how laws and regulations can encourage responsible corporate behavior. But many Swedish companies chose to do more than they are legally required to.