Including risk and impact assessments, due diligence and policy development
More and more companies are focusing on how they can contribute to promoting human rights – and how this can benefit business. Supporting human rights is increasingly becoming the province of private companies, where previously it was seen to be almost exclusively the responsibility of governments.
Proactively promoting human rights is therefore not only a moral imperative – it can also create business benefits.
Nonetheless, though human rights are exercised within a domestic political context, they are founded on principles that extend to a much wider setting, and may interact with legitimate international concerns.
In this context, the company’s minimum requirements – or duties, even – are clear: ensure that it is not involved in the violation or infringement of human rights.
This can be fraught with difficulties, not least that businesses often find themselves operating in situations where a political system creates or sustains human rights violations. In these scenarios, the basic requirement is that business is not complicit.
Of course, putting this into practice can be extremely difficult.
Foreign company operations, therefore, cannot be seen as purely commercial – they take place in the context of politics and human rights considerations. While it’s temptingly simple to refrain from operating in complex scenarios, this ignores the potential ways in which the private sector can have a positive influence in countries where human rights are compromised.
Caution needs to be exercised, and human rights considerations weighed up with economic risks when entering these markets. Each country scenario is difficult and a guiding principle should be to operate in ways that support community empathy rather than oppressive government practices.
Obviously it can be exceptionally complex for a company to evaluate its impact on society in these scenarios, given the many different aspects that there are to company activities and civil society forces.
Our deep understanding of human rights business practices allows us to provide an extensive range of services to help companies in these complex scenarios.
Our human rights management services include:
- Identifying rights holders, country risks and impacts, operational risks and impacts within operating contexts.
- Identifying, mapping and analysing the company’s relationships across its business and along its value chain.
- Analysing and auditing the company’s products, services and relationships.
- Analysing and auditing the company’s practices and impacts.
- Developing human rights strategies, policies, frameworks and guidelines – from implementation to due diligence and reporting on human rights practices.