Many businesses are investing in a brighter future for all. They are tackling the climate crisis, reviewing supply chains for forced labor and cutting ties with human rights violators.

The U.S. State Department is updating the U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct. People around the world can send their suggestions through May 31. First published in December 2016, the action plan outlines ways the U.S. government encourages American businesses to behave responsibly abroad.

The action plan reflects long-standing U.S. government support for international tenets of responsible business conduct as outlined in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct and the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced plans to update the action plan on June 16, 2021, as part of a governmentwide push to improve and expand efforts to promote responsible business.

“Businesses can provide crucial support for democratic principles, including respect for human and labor rights. They have the capacity to help shape society and the environment — raising local wages, improving working conditions, building trust with communities, and operating sustainably,” Blinken said at the time. “As a result, businesses have a key role in addressing human rights abuses, including throughout their value chains.”

Consumers demand action

Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez says consumers increasingly demand that goods pass through responsible supply chains and that the U.S. government is committed to supporting responsible business practices.

“I appreciate the focus on the need for businesses to act responsibly in all their operations and practices,” Fernandez said in a December 1, 2021, blog post. “Businesses can do well by doing good.”

Core principles of responsible business include:

      • Emphasizing positive contributions businesses can make to economic, environmental and social progress.
      • Committing to robust due diligence efforts that identify and mitigate adverse impacts of business conduct and remedy abuses.
      • Ensuring businesses are aware of and comply with legal obligations within their supply chains at home and overseas.

The update is one of many ways the U.S. government encourages businesses to behave responsibly. Since 1999, the State Department’s Award for Corporate Excellence has recognized U.S. companies doing good work abroad, including businesses that are improving farmers’ yields, advancing gender equity and addressing the climate crisis.

To provide suggestions for the update on the U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct, visit the U.S. Federal Register.