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Overview

Formulating corporate strategy on human rights and embedding this strategy in corporate policies is key to the successful integration of human rights into a company.  A strategy should provide the vision, map the means to integrate human rights and embody the business commitment to human rights.
 
A company's human rights vision and strategy is best developed through leadership commitment from the top, a deep understanding throughout the business of the human rights impacts, and the involvement of internal and external stakeholders affected by its activities.















Responsibility for human rights needs to extend beyond a small group that deals with risk management; responsibility and accountability need to be integrated into the activities of those people who operate the core business, as well as those who are responsible for: 

  • Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship or Sustainability
  • Human resources
  • Safety, health, and environmental management
  • Procurement
  • Legal advice and litigation
  • Monitoring compliance with external and internal requirements
  • Business ethics
  • Supply chain
  • Security
  • Planning and implementing long-term growth strategies
  • Managing external stakeholder relations. 

 
You should take stock of what the company is already doing, examine your risks and opportunities, develop your priorities and determine appropriate management responsibilities. You may find it of value to consult with stakeholders in developing your strategy.

Steps

  1. Find out what your company is already doing that is relevant to human rights
  2. Identify potential human rights risks and opportunities in your operations
  3. Revise your strategy in light of human rights considerations

 

Key Messages

  • In addition to a commitment to human rights, a business needs to develop its own unique vision and response. Many aspects and lessons are transferable from one company to another and some baseline expectations on business exist.
  • Your company should see the creation and implementation of a strategy as a journey that will involve multiple functions and external stakeholders including supply chain.
  • Your sector will have particular dilemmas, risks and opportunities. There is often already sector-wide dialogue on these issues.  
  • As with all strategic intents and objectives, your company will need to create a clear policy and embed management responsibilities. 
  • Your company will most likely already be taking action to respect human rights (e.g. through Health and Safety, Diversity, Product Stewardship), and will have existing related policies and practices in place.
  • Developing a strategy requires top management buy-in. This necessitates a mindset that sees beyond immediate financial gain, and sets the tone for employee attitudes and a culture that understands the importance of non-financial criteria to a company’s success.

Benefits

  • Ensure human rights issues are examined and understood at the most senior level of leadership within the company. 
  • Allows for the creation of policies and practices consistent with human rights. 
  • Taking a strategic position on human rights can establish a leadership position for the company.
     
 
The Guide for Integrating Human Rights into Business Management is developed by:

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