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Business action [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 28

3:00pm CET

Widening uptake of the UNGPs: a spotlight on SMEs
Interpretation is provided in English, French and Spanish.

Organized by the International Organisation of Employers 

Brief description
This session will focus on how the responsibility to respect human rights applies to SMEs and what can be done to strengthen their engagement on human rights. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) acknowledge that the means through which a company meets its responsibility to respect human rights "will be proportional to, among other factors, its size," adding that SMEs "may have less capacity, as well as more informal processes and management structures than larger companies, so their respective policies and processes will take on different forms."
To date, most awareness-raising, capacity building and policy-related efforts have focused on the world's largest brands and retailers, with SMEs often an afterthought in discussions and initiatives on responsible business conduct and business and human rights. Yet, SMEs form the backbone of national economies and the global supply chains of large companies. They account for about 90% of all businesses (according to the International Finance Corporation) and they contribute up to 45% of total employment (according to the World Bank). Their collective contribution to society and the planet is huge.

Session objectives
  • To explore the different challenges and conditions facing SMEs and how awareness-raising and capacity-building efforts and policy measures can be better tailored to support SMEs to respect human rights in line with their respective size, capacity, resources, and impact on human rights.
  • To draw attention onto the world's largest category of companies, and away from the usual focus on global brands and retailers – ie: how can we widen implementation of the UNGPs?
Key discussion questions
  1. How does respect for human rights, including the human rights due diligence process, apply to SMEs?
  2. How do SMEs currently act in a responsible manner and what lessons can be drawn from this?
  3. What are the drivers for SMEs to implement the UNGPs? How can more SMEs be encouraged to respect human rights in situations where the drivers are less applicable?
  4. What opportunities and challenges face SMEs in respecting human rights?
  5. How do policy measures currently impact on SMEs? What policy responses are needed based on these lessons?
  6. What practical support can be provided to assist SMEs?

Background to the discussion
Useful links

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...

Mustain Billah

Component Coordinator, Export Competitiveness for Jobs
Mustain Billah is a Dhaka based social innovation and civic engagement thought leader. A blogger and opinion maker; an ardent advocate of human rights, pluralism, sustainability and circular economy. He is keenly interested about skills education, systems thinking and real-world solutions... Read More →
avatar for Cecilia Flores

Cecilia Flores

President, WomenCeo Peru
Corporate Lawyer and a person committed with gender equility

Wednesday November 28, 2018 3:00pm - 4:45pm CET