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, governments , NGO and law firm.
The study explores the views of businesses worldwide on their responsibility to respect human rights in doing business 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 related to doing business are now a matter for businesses
83% agree that human rights related to doing business are a matter for business
44% say that the CEO is most likely to take the leading role in human rights in doing business (followed by CSR – 34% and Human resources - 24%)
Top 3 drivers are: sustainable relationship with local communities, brand reputation and employees’ expectations
Close to a third think that make reporting on human rights in doing business a mandatory requirement for companies would help them respect human rights in doing business
Ed Potter, director of workplace rights, Coca Cola: “In 2014 we adopted a consolidated human rights policy in doing business. It took 8 months in 2005 to align with the bottlers. It took 15 minutes last year.”
But concrete actions are lagging
Surprisingly 17% agree that human rights related to doing business are NOT a matter for business
Only 21% say that a clear case is driving their human rights in doing business policy
A majority has no explicit policy statement that references human rights in doing business
Top 3 barriers are: lack of understanding, lack of resources and lack of training and education
79% do not see a clear case for committing on human rights in doing business (risk-benefit analysis, competitive advantage…)
Jan Klawitter, government relations manager, Anglo American: “We have to acknowledge 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 on 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.”
Visit our Collective Intelligence blog and know more about the report and how Mazars contribute to translate the UN Guiding principles into a comprehensive Reporting Framework.
Mazars and EIU global report on Human Rights and Business 2015
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Richard Karmel London Managing Partner, Global Sustainability - London