Statement on Transparency Act 2022
BI Norwegian Business School statement on integrity due diligence 2022 pursuant to the Transparency Act.
Background and general information
The purpose of the Transparency Act is to promote companies' respect for fundamental human rights and decent working conditions in connection with the production of goods and the provision of services in the supply chain. The enterprise shall publish a report (cf. § 5) of the integrity due diligence assessments carried out (cf. § 4) in order to ensure public insight into the company's key findings in the due diligence assessments, how the enterprise handles any negative impacts and what measures have been implemented.
The report from BI Norwegian Business School for integrity due diligence 2022 applies collectively to BI's entire operations.
BI Norwegian Business School (hereinafter referred to as "BI") is a self-owned foundation whose sole purpose is teaching and research.
BI's Board of Trustees has overall responsibility for internal control and risk management in the business, including implementation of the Transparency Act. The BI Board shall ensure good governance of the business and has an external chairman and external majorities from academia and business. BI has an external Control Committee that oversees the activities in accordance with the Norwegian Foundation Act and other relevant legislation and regulations. The BI Board and the management shall be kept informed of the work on due diligence and supplier risk.
From the BI Board of Trustees annual report for 2022:
"BI has implemented measures in line with the requirements of the Norwegian Transparency Act, which entered into force in July 2022, to promote decent working conditions and fundamental human rights in the supply chain. Contract templates and procurement procedures have been updated to address social conditions and existing environmental requirements. A risk-based approach ensures a closer follow-up of selected suppliers based on self-declaration forms and assessments. Routines and ethical guidelines increase awareness and competence among employees about responsibilities and roles in complying with the law. A status report is published annually by the end of June on BI's website.” . This report is published on web: BI annual report 2022 and BI operations - social sustainability.
The President's management team is responsible for operationalizing BI Norwegian Business School’s risk management and internal control, while the Department of Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) has overall responsibility for risk assessments and governance structures at BI. GRC shall ensure that BI has appropriate routines and frameworks to promote compliance with the Transparency Act.
Inquiries to BI regarding the duty of disclosure and the Transparency Act should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, which is administered by Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). GRC will coordinate and handle answering of questions and inquiries.
The central purchasing department at BI assists line managers in the purchasing process and performs quality assurance to ensure that BI's supplier purchasing is in line with current guidelines. After the contract is signed, supplier follow-up is the responsibility of the internal contract owner.
Integrity due diligence
Due diligence assessments of BI's suppliers and partners are carried out based on a risk-based approach. We update these reviews regularly to ensure that information about our suppliers is up to date. BI's due diligence work can be seen in light of the following:
- BI does not have owners with profit requirements. BI will deliver the highest possible value on the organization’s purpose, while having a sustainable financial situation over time.
- BI purchases products and services for academic activities, buildings, operations, events, as well as catering services for students and employees. BI has around 20,000 students, of which around half are full-time students, over 900 full-time employees and several thousand participants on events annually. BI has a total of over 1500 suppliers.
- BI's teaching activities are delivered mostly by own employees, supplemented with some hired contract lecturers. BI has a high number of exam completions, managed by permanently employed exam staff and some hired invigilators. BI purchases teaching deliveries from international colleges and through collaboration and partner agreements. Within research, BI also has several collaboration agreements. BI hosts a high number of events annually for various stakeholder groups where BI purchases services from suppliers, on own campuses and through collaboration with partners and colleges at home and abroad.
- BI operates four campus buildings. BI owns the building on campus Oslo with operation of approx. 100,000 sqm and rental of parts of the premises to tenants. BI is a tenant in Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger and operates local campus services there. BI's business in China is the delivery of continuing education via a partnership agreement.
- BI's main activity is conducted in and from Norway and all its own employees have Norwegian employment contracts, subject to the Working Environment Act.
- BI uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a basis for its business and participates in several organizations and standards on social and environmental sustainability to further develop its own responsibility.
In connection with BI's conduct of integrity due diligence, BI considers the following business areas as relevant; procurement of products and services, events and related business partners/suppliers, rental of premises and related business partners, operation of campuses and related supply chains, as well as research and teaching-related partners/suppliers.
BI works actively to identify and assess possible negative impacts on fundamental human rights and decent working conditions in the supply chain. This work is adapted to BI's business nature and context. BI has followed the Transparency Act's due diligence standard, which is based on the OECD's guidelines for responsible business conduct.
BI considers the risk of breaches of the Transparency Act in BI's supply chain to be generally low.
Negative consequences and risks
No negative consequences for human rights and decent working conditions have been identified during the due diligence work in 2022.
BI has taken a risk-based and industry-specific approach to assessing how significant the suppliers are in terms of possible risk of human rights violations and indecent working conditions. Prioritization is based on accounting categorization of supplier purchase in 2022. Three materiality criteria are used in the due diligence assessments in 2022; purchase value, industry/category cf. "high-risk list" from DFØ, and geography (country where supplier is registered).
Most suppliers are Norwegian and subject to the Working Environment Act. Compliance with the requirements of the Working Environment Act is also included in all BI's supplier contacts. The foreign suppliers are found mostly in teaching, research, travel, accommodation, and marketing. BI has assessed the risk of human rights violations as low in procurement related to research, teaching and courses/training. The higher education sector is characterised by highly educated and competent labour with primary activity in Norway and strong employment law protection. These suppliers make up about half of BI's suppliers and procurement value in 2022.
Due diligence and preventive measures have been carried out in 2022 within the supplier areas " hired contract lecturers" and "partner cooperation in China", even if these are considered to be low risk suppliers.
- BI has established routines for external lecturers' contractual relationships, and these must be quality assured and standardized. No breaches under the Transparency Act have been identified.
- BI has limited influence on the operation of our partner school in China, but no significant risk areas were identified in 2022 that have resulted in a need for deeper control, aligned with Transparency Act's requirements for working conditions and human rights. The cooperative school is considered one of China's best universities and is locally recognized as a very good place to work. The Chinese employees involved in deliveries to BI have a high level of education, good pay, and good labor rights in a Chinese context.
In 2022, BI chose to focus on the largest suppliers with assumed medium to high risk. This applies to suppliers of canteen operations, coffee shops, self-service machines, kiosk operations, promotional items, office supplies and renovation. Contract managers at these suppliers were sent a request from BI with a self-declaration form pursuant to the Transparency Act. The declaration is signed and confirmed from all suppliers, with supplementary documentation.
Additional follow-up has been carried out for suppliers assessed as having a higher degree of risk:
- Contract follow-up talks have been held with the canteen supplier in the winter of 2022/2023, both with the national responsible for the canteen agreement, and with local canteen managers at each of BI's four campuses. Although the focus was mostly on the environment, the Working Environment Act was also confirmed to have been complied with.
- BI has contractual requirements for coffee suppliers to only use "Fairtrade" coffee to ensure decent living wages and safe working conditions for coffee farmers. In 2022, extra follow-up of this was carried out and the supplier has confirmed in writing that only Fairtrade coffee is delivered. BI has not followed up further down the supply chain.
Expanded supplier follow-up is planned in the future plus more preventive measures. If negative impact is detected, dialogue is initiated with the supplier to correct and determine proportionate measures. BI will help to reduce damage caused by negative impact, prevent them from recurring and perform recovery if necessary.
Measures to prevent, limit, halt and monitor negative consequences
Through risk assessment and follow-up in 2022, BI has not uncovered breaches of the Transparency Act or non-conformities that require recovery or compensation in order to stop or limit harmful effects for people in the supply chain. Consequently, no such measures have been implemented. BI has mainly worked preventively in 2022, both internally and vis-à-vis suppliers.
BI has policies and guidelines that regulate BI's work with purchasing and relationships with suppliers and partners. These will be updated as needed. Several have been supplemented or revised in 2022 with requirements for safeguarding social conditions, in accordance with the provisions of the Transparency Act. This applies to purchasing policy, ethics in the purchasing process, procedures for purchasing processes, requirement specifications, tender and contract templates for purchasing, as well as procedures for internal contract ownership. The purchasing department is increasingly involved in procurement processes and contracts cnclusions where such central involvement is natural. This comes in addition to the decentralized conclusion of contracts, a BI practice used for instance in academic procurement.
In order to regulate how BI works with monitoring, prevention and follow-up, a procedure has been established for responsible supplier follow-up and due diligence. This describes the division of responsibilities and main tasks under the Transparency Act:
|Responsible purchasing processes and policies:
|Central purchasing department
|Training and follow-up of internal contract owners:
|Central purchasing department and GRC
|Annual reporting under the Transparency Act:
|Compliance and control:
|Contract follow-up and dialogue with suppliers:
In 2022, the requirements of the Transparency Act have been incorporated into BI's contract template and request for tenders. This will be phased in through contract renewals and new purchases. Internal ethical guidelines and guidelines on whistleblowing and against harassment were updated in 2022.
Classification and risk assessment of the supplier portfolio have been carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Transparency Act, and self-declarations have been obtained and signed, given a risk-based approach.
Training is conducted for internal contract owners, and other stakeholders, on their responsibilities in following up supplier agreements and conducting due diligence. In addition, GRC employees have participated in several external competence-building seminars on the Transparency Act.
BI works continuously, preventively, and systematically with processes, routines, and safeguarding measures. In 2022 and 2023, BI has further strengthened its work on closer follow-up of social commitments of BI's suppliers. BI will continue with a risk-based and industry-specific approach to the responsibilities and requirements of the Transparency Act.
Templates for follow-up conversations with suppliers will be updated to ensure that social conditions for suppliers' employees and value chain are followed up in these annual conversations. Efforts to improve internal governing documents and clarify roles and responsibilities will continue. We continue to develop comprehensive training of internal contract owners.
If irregularities are discovered and risk factors are identified, we will carry out further investigations. In cases of high risk, suspected negative impact and/or irregularity, we may consider the assistance of the internal auditor. Deviations can be resolved through dialogue with suppliers.
The report supplements BI's annual report 2022 and has been approved by the President and all members of BI's Board of Trustees in June 2023.
Oslo, June 2023