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Responsible Growth in Denmark

Denmark is among the international frontrunners when it comes to responsible growth.

Strong collaboration between companies and employees is part of Danish culture and tradition, and in many areas Danish legislation is among the toughest in the world. In many areas, Danish rules are more rigorous than the requirements and targets defined in international agreements. This applies, for example, to Danish legislation related to working environment, equal opportunities, social inclusion, and environmental protection.

In addition, supporting the corporate social responsibility initiatives of Danish companies has been given high priority by Danish authorities.

At the forefront in corporate social responsibility

There are several reasons that Denmark and Danish companies rank high in terms of social and environmental responsibility. These reasons include the measures and resources devoted to creating responsible growth, as well as the focus on areas that affect social and environmental responsibility.

Focus areas of key importance to corporate social responsibility:

  • Government support for Danish companies’ corporate social responsibility initiatives
  • Legal requirements of corporate social responsibility reporting
  • Gender equality
  • Tradition for collaboration and the ’Danish model’
  • Working environment
  • Climate and the environment
  • Ranking among the best in the world for Cleantech
  • State of Green

Government support for Danish companies’ social responsibility initiatives

The Danish government supports Danish companies in order to ensure the best possible terms to fulfil their social responsibility while also running a profitable business. But the government is also involved in the development of a number of guidelines and web-based tools, which make it easier for companies, suppliers and buyers to engage in CSR. You can read more about the web-based tools here:

CSR Compass – focused on the supply chain

Climate Compass – focused on climate strategy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Legal requirements of corporate social responsibility reporting

Supporting Danish businesses with tools and guidelines is not the only reason that Denmark is among the international frontrunners.

Since 2009, Danish legislation has required listed and large companies in Denmark to report on their corporate social responsibility efforts in their annual reports.

The aim is to inspire companies to take an active position on corporate social responsibility and to communicate this position. The statutory requirement is part of the Government's action plan for corporate social responsibility and is intended to help improve the international competitiveness of Danish trade and industry.

Companies covered by the statutory requirement must report on:

  • The company’s social responsibility policies, including any standards, guidelines or principles for social responsibility employed by the company.
  • How the company translates its social responsibility policies into action, including any systems or procedures used.
  • The company’s evaluation of what has been achieved through social responsibility initiatives during the financial year, and any expectations it holds regarding future initiatives.

From the financial year 2013, the companies are also required to expressly state in their reports what measures they are taking to respect human rights and reduce their impact on the climate.

Statutory requirements to report on corporate social responsibility are now spreading to the rest of the EU, partly inspired by the Danish model. Denmark has thus been an international frontrunner in terms of corporate social responsibility reporting.

Gender equality

Gender equality is a core value in Denmark, which is also reflected in the unique Danish legislation in this area.

Denmark has an impressive record on gender equality, ranking 7th in the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum.

Tradition for collaboration and the ‘Danish model’

The Danish labour market has a tradition for collaboration between the social partners. This has resulted in good conditions in terms of working hours, working environment and continuing education.

Denmark is known globally for its ‘flexicurity’ model, which combines a high degree of flexibility for companies with a good standard of security for the employees.

The security of employees takes the form of a legal guarantee of payment of a relatively high unemployment benefit amount – regardless of any spouse’s income. The unemployment benefit system has existed for almost one hundred years.

Many Danish workplaces have a long-standing tradition for flexible working hours, which means that the employees have considerable influence on the planning of their day-to-day working life. The employee demand for flexible work hours is due to the fact that the majority of both men and women work. The participation rate for women was 75.4 percent in the last quarter of 2015.

Working environment

Good collaboration between employers, employees and authorities, as well as comprehensive legislation, ensures a sound working environment and social welfare provision in Danish companies.

Denmark has a long-standing tradition, dating back to the 1830s, for government regulation of the working environment. The first Danish Working Environment Act was passed in the 1870s. Since then, there has been on-going focus on improving the working environment.

To prevent problems with the working environment, it is a statutory requirement that all companies employing staff must prepare a written workplace assessment at least every third year. This ensures that small companies and companies facing untraditional challenges also stay focused on their working environment.

Climate and the environment

In 1971, Denmark established a Ministry of the Environment. Since then, Denmark has taken many initiatives in the environmental field, for example in areas relating to chemicals, waste, energy and drinking water.

Since the mid-1970s, successive Danish governments have given priority to more efficient energy utilisation, while at the same time enacting tough legislation on environmental protection. This has benefited both the environment and the energy balance, and has strengthened the Danish corporate sector. It has also forced Danish companies to think innovatively and dynamically.

This, in turn, has given the country a useful lead in tackling such issues as sustainable generation of energy, energy efficiency, district heating, wastewater treatment and waste management. Today, green technology is one of Denmark’s biggest exports. Denmark has well-established research programmes and numerous companies with expertise and production capability in the field of sustainable technologies.

Denmark has launched a strategy for achieving independence from fossil fuels by 2050. The strategy is the first of its kind in the world and is fully financed while still taking full account of Danish competitiveness.

Ranking among the best in the world for cleantech

Denmark has gone from being 99 per cent dependent on foreign fossil fuel to being completely energy self-sufficient. More than thirty years of focused energy policy in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis has catapulted Denmark ahead of most other nations in the use of renewable energy technologies.

With 1,100 Danish cleantech companies, 60,000 employees and exports valued at EUR 12 billion, Denmark is one of the world’s indisputable cleantech powerhouses.

Cleantech has become the fastest-growing Danish export sector in recent years, and exports are expected to quadruple in the next four to five years. No fewer than 46 research institutions in Denmark focus on cleantech R&D.

Since 2000, Danish cleantech companies have experienced tremendous growth, with cleantech exports growing at three times the rate of total exports during this period. Exports of energy technologies reached EUR 8.6 billion in 2008, making Denmark the leading EU country in exports of energy technologies as a proportion of total exports.

State of Green

Denmark’s special position in cleantech is now officially recognised by the ‘State of Green’ brand, which the Danish government has developed in cooperation with representatives from the energy efficiency, wind power and water treatment industries to put Danish climate, energy and environment solutions on the global agenda.

Visit the State of Green website