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Publicly owned enterprises: sustainable, good corporate governance

Inspectors in a storehouse.
Source:  picture alliance / Westend61

The National Action Plan uses the term "enterprises in public ownership" to denote business enterprises that are subject to private or public law and in which federal, state or local authorities hold a direct majority share. According to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, enterprises that are under state control have a particular responsibility to respect human rights. The Public Corporate Governance Code of the Federation (PCGK Bund) contains recommendations regarding good corporate governance for enterprises in which the Federal Government holds a majority stake. Several of Germany's federal states and municipalities also have such codes for their holdings.

Expanding human rights-related training courses and reporting requirements

Working in cooperation with the German Council for Sustainable Development, the Federal Government is adding sustainability issues to the training curriculum for federal employees who are responsible for managing federal holdings, with special attention devoted to responsibility for human rights in enterprises in which the Federal Government holds a direct majority share. The scope of the training curriculum for bodies managing these holdings will be incorporated into the Public Corporate Governance Code of the Federation during the next revision. Germany's federal states are expected to follow this example soon. In addition, the Federal Government is striving to see more enterprises in which it holds a majority share apply the German Sustainability Code. This code provides a framework for standardised sustainability reporting by enterprises. To satisfy the requirements set forth in the Code, enterprises must issue a statement detailing how they implement 20 criteria for social, ecological and economic sustainability. Starting from the 2018 financial year, the report on federal holdings will list separately, in the chapter on sustainability, all international enterprises with more than 500 employees in which the Federal Government has a majority share that apply the German Sustainability Code or a comparable framework with compulsory reporting on human rights and those that do not.