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BLIHR | Step 3

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STEP 3: Review the different types of training available, select appropriate training programme and identify target groups 


Human rights training is a vehicle through which companies can help executives, managers, supervisors, employees, and contractors understand their expanded moral space in a global economy.  This usually starts with basic information about what human rights are — the rights arising from merely being human that are recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the leading international instruments — and why they’re relevant to the business and its business. 

The value of training in integrating human rights into your business management cannot be over-stated. Training, in its multiple forms, will help individuals in the business to gain new knowledge, understand issues not addressed in traditional management education and engage in dilemmas. Investing in this area is about preparing the people in the business to make the right decisions when there are called upon to prevent or respond to a human rights issue. This is no different for any other area of your business. Accept that, when dealing with human rights, your employees will often be dealing with issues that engage hearts as well as minds – preparing colleagues to avoid or respond to violent protests, child labour in the supply chain or concerns about corruption is not a simple textbook activity.

There is a range of different types of human rights training available: web-based and paper-based or in person, that can be held either in the workplace or at a special venue outside the business location. The following is an example of available types of training and examples:
 
  • E-learning systems
  • Specific training for business units
  • Staff Induction
  • Management handbooks and primers
  • Residential multi-business courses
  • Dilemma-based training
  • Experiential learning

Training should engage the daily business realities, and ideally the inner lives, of its target audiences by focusing on hard cases and dilemmas, including issues of rights versus rights, or rights versus production or operational goals.  Because they engage our whole brains and being, innovative learning techniques involving storytelling, literature, multimedia techniques and scenario-planning increases the sensitivity, empathy, and capacity for ethical reasoning required to resolve such dilemmas fairly and effectively.  Theatre and role-playing are an especially effective means of encouraging anti-discrimination values and respect for diversity (which depends on engaging the emotions and understanding the other’s perspective.)

Select appropriate training programme and identify target groups

A number of business functions (in-house or contracted) can make decisions that prevent or perpetuate human rights-related risks. For example, procurement departments can contract with suppliers that violate labour standards, compliance can undermine the importance of ‘soft law’, security teams can enter into agreements with security services with bad human rights records, and corporate strategy can steer the business towards or away from operating in countries with high human rights risks.

Employee training needs to provide an understanding of how human rights relate to the business and raise awareness of human rights risks and opportunities. An analysis of employees’ needs at particular business sites or of those who perform specific functions can help identify areas that the training should cover. Case studies can support this training. Relevant employees throughout the organisation should receive function-specific training; for example, training about specific risks in their operations and how to handle them, or training on new procedures and tools. Target groups for training could include:  
 
  • Procurement / supply chain management
  • Sales and marketing
  • Human resources  
  • Security 
  • All managers and supervisors

The business can also take steps to train suppliers and contractors. Stakeholders and external partners can help with training on specific issues such as political, geographical and cultural risks. Employees should also participate in external training where independent experts challenge others and give specialist insight into specific human rights issues.

The selection of the appropriate training programme is based on factors such as time, cost, location, and the technology involved. It is worthwhile to ask other businesses and business associations which programmes they have found the most useful, but remember that no two businesses are alike. It is likely that stakeholders from the local community or NGOs will have much to contribute to any programme that is to be organised. It is essential in these circumstances that the business and NGO or community group work together in partnership to clearly define expectations and develop a productive working relationship.

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