Mads Øvlisen, former CEO of Novo Nordisk and one of the Danish business community’s most prominent figures, is slated to join the board of Global Compact, a UN organisation that seeks to promote socially conscious business principles.

During Øvlisen’s tenure as CEO of Novo Nordisk, he established a reputation as a firebrand promoting corporate social responsibility. Since leaving the insulin producer and Denmark’s largest drug maker in 2000, he has held posts on the boards of Lego and the Royal Theatre.

Øvlisen, one of only two Europeans chosen to join the board, joins 19 other business and labour leaders to head Global Compact. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the Global Compact in 2000 to promote ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards and anti-corruption efforts.

Øvlisen, who currently holds a guest lecturer position at the Copenhagen Business School where he specialises in corporate social responsibility, considered the appointment recognition of the larger local business community.

‘I’m extremely grateful that I have been chosen. Getting a representative on the board is recognition of the Danish business community’s effort to bring greater social responsibility into companies.’

The minister of development co-operation, Ulla Tørnæs, also lauded Øvlisen’s nomination as a means to promote Danish business practices.

‘It’s a pleasure that we have established ourselves at the head of the class with regard to corporate social responsibility. This way, we send a strong signal that globalisation also has a social dimension in this country.’

She hoped Øvlisen’s recognition would encourage other Danish companies to join the ranks of the Global Compact charter.

So far, 25 Danish companies, including Novo Nordisk and Lego, have implemented Global Compact’s charter.

Worldwide, over 2000 companies from 80 countries have joined the initiative and worked to promote its 10 principles.