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BLIHR | Step 1

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Step 1: Identify indicators for measuring human rights performance and communicate indicators throughout the business

Businesses in general will have a finite number of indicators against which they will monitor their performance. Some of these indicators will be in the public domain and companies will report on progress against previously published targets. Others will remain internal to the business.
 
Different types of human rights indicators 

The indicators can vary in scope and form:

  • Some will relate to specific conditions within the working environment (for example health and safety, labour rights) and these might be expressed both as minimum standards as well as the good practice the company would like to see.
  • Other indicators might be ‘red flags’ warning the company of the vulnerability of any stakeholders to the abuse of their civil or political rights by others and/or to safeguard the company from any complicity in the actions of others.
  • Other might be more positive in orientation. For example to achieve targets for particular for those groups suffering from societal or workplace discrimination, product development with human rights benefits, market penetration or improvements for disadvantaged groups in the local community.

Some of usual considerations about business indicators also relate to human rights:

  • Some indicators will be quantifiable, others will not.
  • Some will relate to specific impacts, others will be more process in nature and assess the effectiveness of human rights policies, codes of conduct and associated monitoring programmes.
  • In particular, not all human rights indicators can be totally objective or scientific in nature (unlike most environmental indicators). For example, the different attitudes and perceptions of a community will be much more subjective but might be crucial in measuring the impact of a project. Here businesses might need to rely on ‘third parties’ of neutral standing who can assess the much more relative aspects of human rights impact.

 

What types of human rights information should a business monitor?

In defining what is human rights information is relevant for a business to monitor, a number of factors should be considered:
 
  • The stated policies and procedures of the business which relate to human rights;
  • Human rights issues that are particularly relevant to the business sector in question, to the country of operation and/or the experiences of the business in other locations;
  • The kinds of information that other stakeholders are requesting and that it would be reasonable for the company to monitor. These might be the statutory requirements of government regulators or labour inspectors, or the expectations of others such as international organisations, shareholders and investors, or non-governmental organisations.

When selecting which specific human rights indicators to measure, there are a number of specific sources which the business should consider:

A good place to start would also be the ‘Essential Steps’ shown in the Matrix included in this Guide.

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