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Human rights due diligence [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 28

10:00am CET

How can benchmarks, rating agencies and ESG researchers drive more and better human rights due diligence

Organized by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB)

This round-table session is part of a human rights due diligence (HRDD) track, which focuses on the roles of benchmarks, rating agencies and ESG researchers can, or are, having in driving improvements in human rights due diligence conducted by companies. Drawing on a round-table of speakers, the session will set out how different approaches are able to create impact and where further efforts need to be made. The second half of the session will focus on interaction with the audience, who will be invited to dig into the detail and challenge the speakers on their assertions.

  • To explain how benchmarks (e.g. the CHRB), ESG Researchers and Ratings (e.g. the Modern Slavery Registry and Vigeo-Eiris) and stock markets can interact and put pressure on companies to implement the UNGPs, specifically their responsibility to implement human rights due diligence and what they are seeing.
  • To understand where there are blockers to progress and where more effort should be directed, in order to maximise the impact of the current levers of power.

Key Discussion Questions:
The discussion questions are planned to be asked to some (if not all) the participants each time, to elicit a short response. The questions will also be tailored / linked to a similar question which will be posed to the audience who will be asked to vote and respond with questions of their own that will be fed to a relevant participant.
  • What is your organisation’s role in pushing HRDD and what trends are you seeing? 2-minute answers only. This will be supported by audience interaction, asking the audience to vote Yes/No on whether they think companies have improved their HRDD, whether the levers of change can generate sufficient progress etc.
  • Do you think more pressure should be applied to investors, or the companies they invest in, in order to drive better HRDD and outcomes for people? 2-minute answers. Again, the audience can vote for one side or the other.
  • Is the current focus on the SDGs, including ranking companies by their contributions to the SDGs, likely to result in better HRDD within companies, or to distract from it? 2 minute answers. 

  • Introduction, scene setting and ground rules (5 mins, including potential late start)
  • Responses of Round-table Participants to key question 1 (15 mins)
  • Audience interaction and 2 questions max (8 mins)
  • Responses of Round-table Participants to key question 2 (10 mins)
  • Audience interaction and 2 questions max (8 mins)
  • Responses of Round-table Participants to key question 3 (10 mins)
  • Audience interaction and 2 questions max (8 mins)
  • Free questions and audience interaction (11 mins)
  • Closeout (5 mins)

Background to the Discussion
Companies have a responsibility to implement the UNGPs and to conduct adequate human rights due diligence (HRDD). But in often weak legislative environments, the pressures on companies to conduct and report on their HRDD may be insufficient to ensure this actually happens. In these cases, there are multiple levers of change that can be used to create an environment where HRDD happens alongside, or in-spite of (rather than because of), regulation.
ESG research data and ratings, public benchmarks and stock exchanges all form part of the information ecosystem that is a critical component of these levers of change and without which, people can not make informed choices. They are also interconnected and are part of the wider feedback loops that connect businesses with investors, data providers, governments, civil society and humanity at large.
This session will look into the current state of play, to see what companies are doing, whether they are improving and what ways can they be pushed to improve their human rights due diligence, by looking at the roles of benchmarking, ratings, ESG research and stock exchanges.

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...

John Morrison

Chief Executive, Institute for human rights and business

avatar for Fouad Benseddik

Fouad Benseddik

Head of Methods and Institutional Affairs, Vigeo-Eiris
avatar for Patricia Carrier

Patricia Carrier

Project Manager, Modern Slavery Registry, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
avatar for Edoardo Gai

Edoardo Gai

Head of Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM

Anthony Miller

Coordinator, Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
avatar for Daniel Neale

Daniel Neale

Programme Director, Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB)
I run the CHRB. Ask me about ranking corporations on their human rights performance.
avatar for Dante Pesce

Dante Pesce

Chairperson, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Mr. Dante Pesce holds a Masters in Political Science from the Catholic University of Chile and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the VINCULAR Center for Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development at the... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer Rietbergen-McCracken

Jennifer Rietbergen-McCracken

Head of Research, Responsible Mining Foundation
Heading the research team at the Responsible Mining Foundation, we conduct assessments of mining companies on a range of economic, environmental, social and governance issues, with human rights a transversal issue for all our research. Our assessments are based on what society can... Read More →

Wednesday November 28, 2018 10:00am - 11:20am CET
Room XX

1:30pm CET

What works? Investigating the relationship between business practices and outcomes for people

Organized by SHIFT

For years, many - within business and beyond - have deployed vast efforts and resources to embed respect for human rights in companies’ operations and value chains. But not all business actions make a difference and deliver meaningful outcomes for affected rights-holders - and even the best intended ones can have little to no effect. Some may even harm people, instead of mitigating risk.
Participants will be invited to share their own experience and viewpoints with reference to a number of responsible business interventions. We will also benefit from inputs from practitioners about innovations and insights into both purchasing practices in the apparel industry, and mining company impacts on, and relationships with, communities. 
This session will engage participants in the discipline of working with both leading and lagging indicators to evaluate business respect for human rights. Lagging indicators are about harm that has already occurred. They measure adverse outcomes–what went wrong or has improved after the fact. Leading indicators are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ that predict harm. They enable companies to fix the causes of harm before it happens.

The objective of the session is to identify what the opportunities and challenges are of working with leading and lagging indicators when evaluating business respect for human rights

Key discussion questions:
With reference to a few specific business and human rights challenges, the session will explore the following questions:
  • What views/insight do participants have about which actions to mitigate adverse human rights impacts make a difference to the lives of affected people?
  • What can we learn from existing innovations to identify - and build an evidence base around - which actions do in fact make a difference?
  • When making judgments about whether a company’s due diligence is, or is likely, to make a difference to affected people, what do participants think is most important to pay attention to?

The session will alternate between audience input/participation and contributions from practitioners about innovations and challenges in evaluating what works.

Background to the discussion:
The challenge facing all stakeholders is to do a better job at evaluating what is working and to develop and use the most meaningful information and indicators to track progress. This clearly involves moving beyond tracking inputs and activities, or focusing on high profile incidents of harm or good practice.
Without proper insights into what is working in practice, company leaders cannot allocate proper insights into what is working in practice, company leaders cannot allocate resources to the programs and policies that actually shift business behaviors and make a difference to people’s lives. Many investors feel blindfolded when trying to pick out socially responsible companies from the rest. And civil society organizations have to rely on often meaningless or superficial data, that focus on actions divorced from results, to measure human rights performance.
Most importantly, not getting a handle on what actions actually make a difference betrays the very individuals and communities that the business and human rights community purports to be focused on.

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
avatar for Mark Hodge

Mark Hodge

Senior Associate / Advisor, Shift / OHCHR B-Tech

avatar for Martin Buttle

Martin Buttle

Strategic Lead - General merchandise, Ethical Trading Initiative
Dr Martin Buttle is Strategic Lead: General Merchandise at ETI. Martin leads ETI’s work on general merchandise, purchasing practices and new business models. He is responsible for ETIs partnership with Better Buying - a platform for collecting clear, relevant and timely information... Read More →
avatar for Anjali Nayar

Anjali Nayar

Founder, TIMBY (This Is My Back Yard)
Anjali is the founder of TIMBY (This is My Backyard), a monitoring and reporting system developed to help individuals and organizations on the frontlines of emerging and longstanding human rights and environmental issues report, investigate, aggregate and share information. TIMBY... Read More →
avatar for Casey O’Connor

Casey O’Connor

Sani Scholar in Residence, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
My work is focused on developing social performance indicators for investor use.
avatar for Vanessa Zimmerman

Vanessa Zimmerman

CEO, Pillar Two
Vanessa is a recognised global and domestic corporate sustainability expert focusing on human rights. Originally an anti-trust lawyer, Vanessa specialised in business and human rights, working for five years as a Legal Advisor to the UN Special Representative on Business and Human... Read More →

Wednesday November 28, 2018 1:30pm - 2:45pm CET
Room XX

3:00pm CET

Toward meaningful corporate human rights reporting?
Organized by Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

Brief description of the session:
What’s the problem with corporate reporting on human rights? Can companies realistically report on their human rights impacts and progress made?
Join business, civil society and reporting initiatives to consider what makes meaningful corporate human rights reporting and how we can get there. You will be invited to share your views and to think along on how key challenges can be solved.
Two companies will explain how they reported on human rights in their latest sustainability reports and will receive a critique on their report from a civil society expert.

Session objectives:
  • Identify what makes meaningful corporate human rights reporting from the perspectives of different stakeholders.
  • Identify key challenges in corporate human rights reporting and how they may be solved.

Key discussion questions:
  • Human rights issues continue to be under-reported and current reporting practice leaves much room for improvement. What are the main reasons for this? How can obstacles to reporting be overcome?
  • Current reporting focuses primarily on the commitment and process elements, but there’s very little reporting on outcomes and impacts. Can companies realistically report on their human rights impacts and progress made? What is the role of quantification and metrics?

Links to sustainability reports that will be discussed:
Format of the session:
  • A conversation between GRI, Shift and IIRC on how to achieve more meaningful corporate human rights reporting
  • Audience interaction
  • Presentation by Nestlé and Rio Tinto on their human rights reporting and critique by the Alliance for Corporate Transparency
  • Audience interaction

Background to the discussion:
The UNGPs call on business enterprises to communicate how they address their human rights impacts. Legal requirements to communicate on human rights due diligence are being introduced, such as the French corporate duty of vigilance law or the UK Modern Slavery Act.

Most of the world’s largest corporations issue non-financial or “sustainability” reports which can include human rights. Most of these reports use frameworks, predominantly the GRI Standards. However human rights issues continue to be under-reported and there is much room for improvement.

Recent studies by GRI, Shift and the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark indicate that although progress has been made since the launch of the UN Guiding Principles in 2011, corporate human rights reporting is not yet widespread and there’s much room for improvement. [1] [2] [3]

The July 2018 report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises highlights that disclosure on human rights due diligence is an area in which there is a significant gap between leading practice and the large majority of businesses. Reluctance to disclose information about human rights risks and mitigation efforts seems to be due in large part to perceived legal risks. [4] [5]

The report welcomes efforts underway to develop better indicators for evaluating performance of human rights due diligence, including (a) the work of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to explore further alignment of its Standards with the Guiding Principles, including how best to report on management approaches to due diligence; (b) work to explore the close relationship between integrated reporting and reporting in line with the Guiding Principles; and (c) a project by the non-profit organization Shift, to develop better ways of using information, metrics and indicators to evaluate respect for human rights by businesses.

The report further highlights the following core aspects of good practice: (a) clear recognition of what the risks to people are and (b) accurate descriptions of the due diligence processes that the business enterprise has in place to address specific risks.

This session will invite discussion on what is needed to increase and improve corporate human rights reporting and communication, including barriers to reporting and how these may be overcome, as well as how best to report on human rights due diligence and human rights impacts.

[1] GRI and Centro Vincular-PUCV, Shining a light on human rights: corporate human rights performance disclosure in the mining, energy and financial sectors, 2016.
[2] Corporate Human Right Benchmark, Key Findings 2018, 2018.
[3] Shift, Human Rights Reporting: Are companies telling investors what they need to know?, 2017.
[4] Working Group’s General Assembly report, A/73/163 (paragraphs 46-47 and 91)
[5] Companion note II to the Working Group’s 2018 report to the General Assembly (A/73/163) (pages 12-13)

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...

Marti Flacks

Deputy Director & Head of North America Office, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
avatar for Peter Paul van de Wijs

Peter Paul van de Wijs

Chief External Affairs Officer, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
As head of GRI’s External Affairs team, Peter Paul is responsible driving effective advocacy for GRI, for developing and implementing GRI’s global internal and external communications strategy and maintaining the external relations.Peter Paul has over 20 years of professional... Read More →

avatar for Filip Gregor

Filip Gregor

Purpose of the Corporation Project, Frank Bold
Filip Gregor represents Frank Bold in the Steering Group of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice. Filip co-founded and helps to run the Purpose of the Corporation Project, a strategic open-source platform for a debate on the role of the corporation in society and the future... Read More →
avatar for Richard Howitt

Richard Howitt

CEO, International Integrated Reporting Council
Richard Howitt is Chief Executive Officer of the International Integrated Reporting Council. As such he is spearheading the adoption of Integrated Reporting globally and is a major thought-leader in international debates on good corporate governance, shifting investment to the long-term... Read More →

Dwight Justice

OECD Watch
avatar for Caroline Rees

Caroline Rees

avatar for Yann Wyss

Yann Wyss

Senior Manager, Social & Environmental Impact, Nestlé
#humanrights #duediligence # reporting #globalsupplychains Yann Wyss joined Nestlé in 2011 as a Human Rights Specialist to develop and implement Nestlé’s Human Rights Due Diligence Program across the company’s operations and supply chain. He is now Senior Manager for Social... Read More →
avatar for Vanessa Zimmerman

Vanessa Zimmerman

CEO, Pillar Two
Vanessa is a recognised global and domestic corporate sustainability expert focusing on human rights. Originally an anti-trust lawyer, Vanessa specialised in business and human rights, working for five years as a Legal Advisor to the UN Special Representative on Business and Human... Read More →

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