Switzerland’s New Rules on Corporate Responsibility: Taking ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Global

The Swiss public will soon vote in a much-debated referendum that could require companies to extend protection of human rights and the environment to all their operations globally. The “Konzernverantwortungsinitiative” and the counterproposal reflect a global trend in which regulators and policy makers are responding to public demand for companies to meet higher standards across all aspects of their operations. While we do estimate additional annual compliance cost of CHF 1.2-1.6 billion for Swiss companies, we also see great opportunities for those that embark on an ESG journey regardless of the initiative. First movers will benefit from additional revenues, higher client retention and profitability than their peers.