Joining the dots between business and human rights in the UK

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ETI has been sent links to two new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guides that aim to help UK companies understand how to meet their corporate responsibility to respect human rights and to manage human rights complaints effectively.

Regular readers of the ETI blog know that we firmly believe in joining the dots between business and human rights.

So, when the Equality and Human Rights Commission asked us to share their latest human rights guides, we immediately said yes. Particularly as they draw on the experience of UK businesses that are embedding human rights at board and operational level.

Identifying impacts

As ETI's Communications Manager, I’m unashamedly part of the BuzzFeed demographic that loves listicles. Consequently, the first new guide, a seven-step guide for managers on how to identify, mitigate and report on the human rights impacts of their company’s activities is right up my street.

But, seriously, it should be very helpful to managers in companies in England, Scotland and Wales who have a responsibility for human rights practices in their businesses.

To quote the Commission, it sets out the steps managers should follow to ensure their company:

  • Embeds its human rights policy commitments in its business, culture and practices.
  • Identifies and addresses its salient, or most severe, human rights risks.
  • Engages with stakeholders to inform their company’s approach to addressing human rights risks and communicate its activities
  • Provides an effective remedy for human rights harms.

The guide also provides advice on how companies can meet the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As the Commission says, that’s the “global standard” in outlining the role of business and governments in respecting human rights.

Resolving complaints

The second and related guide is handling and resolving human rights complaints about your business on which companies have a responsibility to act.

And to quote the Commission yet again, this guide shows how companies can:

  • Identify and address human rights concerns before they escalate or lead to otherwise preventable harm.
  • Improve compliance with industry standards and statutory codes on handling complaints and grievances.
  • Monitor complaints, identify any patterns and assess how well its complaints process is working.

Furthermore, the Commission says the guide will be particularly useful to managers in medium to large companies with responsibilities for human rights and social issues, as well as those working in human resources, customer and community relations.

It also says that smaller businesses can use the guide to develop procedures that reflect their size, context and nature of their operations.

Definitely very helpful.

Further EHRC information about business and human rights is available at: www.equalityhumanrights.com/businesshumanrights

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ETI's blog covers issues at the intersection of business, news and ethical trade. We welcome a range of insights and opinions from our guest bloggers, though don't necessarily agree with everything they say.