Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Foreign Office ditches CSR unit as its interest wanes

September 2008

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has shut down its section that has been dealing specifically with corporate responsibility.

The move suggests the Foreign Office has relinquished its role in guiding the government’s corporate responsibility strategy.

Two years ago the department set up a small Sustainable Development and Business Group and issued a strategy document committing it to a greater say on corporate responsibility in the UK and globally (EP9, issue 1, p1). The foreign secretary in April 2007 announced that the department would highlight responsible business practice, seek consensus on the business case, promote sustainable supply chains and address corruption.

A Foreign Office source told EP the group has now ‘closed’, and that the civil servant responsible has been moved to another, unrelated post. The FCO was unable to provide any official comment as EP went to press.

The reorganization is likely to weaken further the UK government’s position on corporate responsibility, as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, traditionally the main holder of the brief, has been largely silent on the topic for the past two years.

One CSR practitioner told EP: ‘We found the Foreign Office very supportive when we did some work with them, so it would be a shame if they dropped their commitment in this area.’

Foreign and Commonwealth Office | UK & NI Ireland | Government role


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