Transnational Company Agreements: Building management knowledge and capacity



Business social responsibility is under the spotlight since many years, notably due to increased globalization and the emergence of multinational companies. Companies face pressure on their operations from markets but also from a variety of social actors. 

Many leading companies have moved from viewing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a philanthropic cause to making it a core pillar of their strategic decision-making process, as well as a part of their day to day operations. However, the way in which companies express their commitment to CSR differs and depends for example of their size, sector of activity, market place etc.

  • A certain number of companies have chosen to consider the governance of their global operations in partnership with global, European and national trade unions and workers’ representatives through the adoption of a Transnational Company Agreements (TCAs). To date, slightly more than 270 of these agreements have been signed in around 160 companies worldwide. 
  • Some companies decided to adhere to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact initiative (around 8000 business participants), follow existing international frameworks such as the OECD Guidelines for MNEs or unilaterally take over key principles on fundamental social rights in their own codes of conduct or CSR policy tools.  


Policy debates on CSR have taken a new turn in the last 5 years with a number of International Organizations attempting to define in greater details companies’ obligations to respect Human and Social Rights as well as Industrial Relations.

Today, companies of all sizes are under increased pressure to show how they are respecting human rights as well as improving corporate social performance more broadly. One expectation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is that companies will fulfil their obligation to respect human rights by undertaking appropriate due diligence.

In the European context, the Commission has endorsed the UN Guiding Principles in its CSR strategy and committed to support their implementation. It has also called on each EU Member State to develop a national action plan, spreading the debate on CSR and Business and Human Rights to the local level. 

These new developments have a number of important consequences for the business world as they imply

  • a broadening of the scope of corporate responsibilities;
  • an expansion of the role of governments in defining CSR, as well as
  • a stark change in business to business relations in the supply chain: it is now common practice that large firms demand that their suppliers comply with codes of conduct, covering notably social practices, in an effort to fulfill their due diligence obligations while SMEs are faced with important operational challenges in complying with these new obligations.



Training project

Against this background, the Programme for Employers' Activities of the ITCILO, in partnership with BDA, MEDEF, CEOE, DI and Confindustria and with the active support of both BUSINESSEUROPE and the IOE, decided to develop a project aiming at  strengthening management representatives’ capacity to make better informed decisions when engaging in and implementing TCAs, through the development and exchange of knowledge, tools and practices.

The project started in 2012 and had different phases.

A list of past activities for phase III (2015-2016) can be found here.

More information on future activities (phase IV 2017-2018) as well as the training material developed throughout the project can be found below :

More information on workshops

More information on training material


A virtual space is opened for registered participants to the activities, granting access to more information and to the workshops' material. To access it, please click here.

For more information, please contact Sandro Pettineo, Programme Officer, ITCILO Programme for Employers' Activities by Email:  or telephone: +390116936373



 This project is co-funded by the European Union

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