Responsible entrepreneurship – what does that mean exactly?
Birgit Riess: In recent years a widespread understanding has taken root of what is now expected in the area of corporate responsibility beyond existing legal requirements. The framework has been set by international agreements such at the ILO's core conventions, the OECD's Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Management and reporting standards that build on these agreements, such as ISO 26000, the Global Reporting Initiative and Germany's Sustainability Code, provide guidance when it comes to responsible entrepreneurial activities and facilitate evaluations of those activities. In addition, numerous industry initiatives are developing standards for challenges currently impacting specific sectors. Corporate responsibility is not static; the requirements that responsible corporate leaders must meet are changing, meaning they are constantly growing analogous to the societal debate on corporate responsibility. In turn, corporate responsibility can reach its full potential for both society and the business community when companies practice it voluntarily and live it day in and day out. But that doesn’t mean it's wholly arbitrary. Dialogue is needed with social interest groups, critically thinking consumers and an informed public. In keeping with the principle of checks and balances, that dialogue ensures companies remained embedded in society.