Fact Sheet #34a) Policies Fostering Human Rights Beyond Immediate Interests

Level 5

Element: Alignment of Policies and Processes

Outcome 34: Organization has policies/processes that foster human rights in areas beyond its economic interests.

Indicator 34a): Organization ensures that it has policies/processes or initiatives that foster human rights in areas beyond its mandate or economic interests.

Possible Measures and Data Sources:

Evidence of policies/processes or initiatives that demonstrate:

  • Measures have been put in place to address human rights impacts that may go beyond the organization’s direct mandate.
  • Human rights due diligence is built into all policies and processes which include risks to rights holders beyond the organizations immediate interests.
  • The organization’s processes incorporate findings from a human rights impact assessment.
  • Public service departments and agencies policies and processes are coherent with recognized human rights and obligations.

Indicator Description

Supporting human rights involves making a positive contribution to promote or advance human rights. Socially responsible organizations have the capability and, often, a desire to support the promotion of human rights within their sphere of influence. The business case for supporting human rights can be as strong as the business case for respecting human rights. In addition stakeholder expectations often extend to the belief that organizations should make a positive contribution to the realization of human rights where they are in a position to do so.

At Level 4, the organization implemented policies, processes or initiatives that illustrate its visible commitment to an internal human rights culture and its internal and external policies and practices reflect human rights. At Level 5, the organization implements policies, processes or initiatives that foster human rights in areas beyond the organization’s mandate and economic interests. Policies may include principles that support and respect the protection of proclaimed human rights, and the organization makes sure it is not complicit in human rights abuses. Taking this action will ensure the organization continues to benefit from an improved corporate reputation, a strong relationship with stakeholders, improved performance and strong and reliable ties with the community.

For example, organizations often include, in their annual reports, information about positive contributions they are making to human rights. The report can cover a wide range of the organization’s internal policies, management practices, and executive involvement. It can also include a clear representation of the voluntary initiatives that illustrate the organization’s commitment to human rights.

Suggested Approach

An organization that develops a human rights approach to conducting business can:

  • Include human rights principles in policy statements: These statements can include expressions of support for universal human rights, especially those of employees and the communities within which business is conducted and operated.
  • Promote non-discrimination in all areas of its work and not just based on the grounds of discrimination enumerated in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  • Work with communities in which business is conducted in order to improve the quality of life in those communities. Seek to provide training and opportunities for workers from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Promote the application of human rights principles to those with whom business is conducted.
  • Be transparent in the implementation of human rights principles and publicly demonstrate the commitment that has been made to them.
  • Use principles that are adopted with partners as tools that can be used to achieve desired goals.
  • Conduct a human rights impact assessment with your partners: There is no single human rights impact assessment method that is applicable to all situations. Depending on the objective and context, a specific tool is usually required. (Human Rights Impact Resource Centre).
  • Build in human rights due diligence (see fact sheet 35a)) processes in all policies and practices.

Promising Practices

  • Joining forces with non government organizations: Organizations have had success in joining forces with a non government organization (NGO) in order to become affiliated with one or more of their programs. Or they have created their own foundations or fundraising program for a specific cause selected by the organization.
  • Following guidance found in Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights “A guide for Integrating Human Rights into Business Management” and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Some organizations use the guide to develop policies that:
    • Comply with existing international human rights conventions and norms – such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles at Rights at Work.
    • Consider existing codes and guidelines such as the Global Compact Principles, the ILO’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Social Accountability 8000 (SA8000).

Useful Tools and Links

The Global Sullivan principles

Canada Post Community Page

The National Bank of Canada Donations and Sponsorships Page

A guide to preparing a human rights policy

The Business and Human Rights website www.business.un.org  provides tools and guidance tailored across specific issues and industry sectors can be accessed easily on several information websites, including UNGC’s business portal.  Roling and Koenen, in their article “Human Rights Impact Assessments: A tool towards better business accountability” provide a table that gives the names of HRIA providers (Rolling and Koenen. P14). 

References

The Global Sullivan principles

Human Rights Impact Resource Centre

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework 

The revised online version of the Guide to Human Rights Impact Assessment and Management (HRIAM) was launched on June 25, 2010 during the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York. The launch drew 150 participants, and 36 companies and 8 financial institutions were represented. Built on a three-year road-testing process, the guide provides practical advice to companies on how to identify and assess the human rights risks and impacts of their business activities, integrate the results into their management system, and ultimately improve their performance.

Roling, Sandra and Thomas Koenen: “Human Rights Impact Assessments:  A tool towards better business accountability”; CSR Europe, 7 Rue Street, Breite Strasse 29, Berlin, Germany: 2010.

United Nations Global Compact

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