Nadine Hawa charts a momentous year, including the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark and UNGP assurance guide, new stakeholder alliances, the spread of disruptive technology and France's due dilligence law
Companies came under increased scrutiny for their performance on human rights this year as new benchmarks, legislation, and the tapping of technology helped keep rights-related risks high on the sustainability agenda.
The release of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) in March was hailed as a “game-changer”. Three years in the making, the benchmark assesses 98 of the largest publicly traded companies in the world, in three industries, agriculture, apparel, extractives, on 100 human rights indicators. The results revealed that while a small group of leaders are taking a leadership position and driving forward corporate human rights performance, much work remains to be done.
Only three companies – Rio Tinto, Marks and Spencer Group, and BHP Billiton – scored more than 60% on the index, and the average score was 28.7%. The methodology was criticised by some, saying the low scores don’t reflect some of the solid work being done behind the scenes. (See Human rights briefing: new corporate benchmark a ‘work in progress’).
But Dr Margaret Jungk, human rights managing director at Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), said: “We see a growing split among companies. The best performers are doing fascinating, ground-breaking work, and adopting more and more human rights...