The road from principles to practice: Today’s challenges for business in respecting human rights is a global report by The Economist Intelligence Unit sponsored by Mazars and a group of organisations including multinational companies, a law firm, governments , NGOs and business groups.
The study explores the views of businesses worldwide on their responsibility to respect human rights and the ways in which these obligations are carried out. It is based on a global online survey and in-depth interviews with experts and senior executives.
It draws on two main sources for its research and findings: a global online survey of 853 senior corporate executives carried out in November and December 2014 and 9 in-depth interviews with independent experts (including specialists from Harvard, Human Rights Watch, Institute of Human Rights…) and senior executives of major companies (including Coca-Cola, UBS, Anglo American…)
Human Rights are now a matter for businesses
83% agree that Human Rights are a matter for business
Close to a third think that making human rights reporting a mandatory requirement for companies would help them respect human rights
Ed Potter, Director of Workplace Rights, Coca Cola: “In 2014 we adopted a consolidated human rights policy. It took 8 months in 2005 to align with the bottlers. It took 15 minutes last year.”
But concrete actions are lagging
17% agree that Human Rights are not a matter for business
79% do not see a clear business case for committing on human rights (risk-benefit analysis, competitive advantage…)
Jan Klawitter, Government Relations Manager, Anglo American: “We have to acknowledge that big corporations need time to change. It is not an excuse for doing nothing: it is just a reality.”
The journey continues
The intersection of business and human rights has seen significant activity in the last decade. Executives have largely accepted that companies have a role in this field. It’s time now to turn thoughts into action.
As John Ruggie, former UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, says, “now that we have a common foundation of minimum standards and processes, the UN Guiding Principles need to be developed in a more granular way.”
“Companies have a responsibility to respect human rights, which means to act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others” UN Global Compact on Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Report, 2009. Increased media scrutiny and shareholder activism means that companies can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights risks and impacts that arise from their operations. Stakeholders, shareholders, NGOs and CSOs seek two things in this new, spot lit-reality: transparency and accountability.
A new report published by Mazars and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that a large majority of executives (83%) believe that human rights are a matter for businesses, not just for governments.
On May 6, 2015, WeiserMazars, Shift and the British Embassy, Washington D.C. hosted an evening with Professor John Ruggie, former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights and author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.