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Understanding human rights in your organisation

It is becoming untenable to operate without regard for the direct and indirect impacts that business activities can have on people and communities. Companies that want to maintain trust and their social license to operate, need to engage with their stakeholders in a meaningful way. The process of embedding human rights into business practice is not about 'naming and shaming'. Rather, it is about encouraging businesses to embrace a holistic view of value creation that takes into account the respect and dignity of all stakeholders. 

What do we mean by human rights? Simply put, human rights are the recognition in the inherent value of each person as a human, irrespective of their background or personal characteristics. It is based in principles of dignity, equality, fair treatment and mutual respect and the ability to make genuine choices in our daily lives.

Understanding the human rights impacts of your organisation can help you to: 

  • Protect people against harm;
  • Promote company and product reputation; 
  • Protect against operational, credit and supply chain risks;
  • Improve stakeholder relations to maintain and strengthen social license to operate; 
  • Motivate employees, bring purpose to the organisation, and improve productivity; 
  • Attract investment; and 
  • Lead and contribute to responsible business and sustainable development goals. 

So how do businesses ensure that they are doing right by their stakeholders? 

  • A human rights impact assessment can help a business understand pertinent risks, prevent negative effects of operations and maximize positive ones. This involves:
  • Scoping an organisation’s sphere of impact to identify the business activities and stakeholders affected by its operations;
  • Data collection and evidence gathering to identify how a company impacts people and communities;
  • Measuring and weighing impacts according to scale, reach, probability and remendability;
  •  Recommendations for corrective action to mitigate negative human rights impacts and optimize positive ones;
  • Monitoring and evaluation to ensure recommendations have had the right impact and met their objectives.

If you would like to find out more about this topic, please get in touch.