A year ago, the Danish pension fund for academics Akademikerpension inquired whether medtech firm Coloplast knew of any potential obstacles for publicizing its tax payments in all of the countries it operates in. However, the pension fund received no clear answer.
Although Coloplast has yet to give a detailed explanation as to what challenges might be in the way of global tax transparency, it has said it does not intend to release such information. The decision could have consequences for Coloplast's ability to retain and recruit the best people in the industry, says Head of Responsible Investments at Akademikerpension Troels Børrild.
Børrild is disappointed that Akademikerpension has failed to convince Coloplast of the rewards that can be reaped from becoming a model company by leading others and showing global transparency in tax reporting.
"If a company doesn't want to help create greater transparency, it loses out on the trust it could have built by being a model company, which is a company that people want to work for. Employees are a very big resource and Coloplast has made it clear in its strategy that recruiting the best people matters a lot," Børrild says, adding:
"We think being transparent creates trust and helps draw in and retain skilled employees for Danish model companies."
Exposed to speculation and criticism
At the medtech company's latest general assembly, Akademikerpension as an institutional investor proposed that Coloplast begin publicizing tax payment on a country-by-country basis, using the example of Danish power company Ørsted that has done precisely that. Akademikerpension proposed the same thing for numerous of its portfolio firms, including hearing aid manufacturer GN Hearing.
Coloplast did not comply with the request but chose instead to publicize its national tax payments within the EU in connection with its full-year financial report, as this will become a legal requirement from 2023 as per an upcoming EU directive.
"When the full picture isn't visible, a lot of questions can be asked of the missing pieces. To build trust, putting it all out there is a good idea," says Børrild, adding:
"Otherwise, a company is exposed to speculation and criticism that might not have existed if the numbers were made public."
(This article was provided by our Danish sister media, MedWatch.dk)