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The first Corporate Human Rights Benchmark launched this week, benchmarking the Human Rights performance of 98 of the world’s biggest businesses in Apparel, Agriculture and ICT. It originated from Investor and civil societies’ wish to answer a deceptively simple question - which company performs best in human rights terms?- using some objective measurement to track business progress over time. The methodology behind the benchmark is the result of 2 years of extensive multi stakeholder consultation around the world, involving representatives from over 400 companies, governments, civil society organisations, investors, academics and legal experts. The tool benchmarks business performance on how well they are doing at embedding UN guiding principles on business and human rights across 6 categories: their Governance and policies, evidence of embedding Respect and Human Rights Due Diligence, provision of Remedies and Grievance mechanisms, the performance of companies Human Right practices as well as their response to allegations and the transparency of their disclosure

The CHRB, like the Modern Slavery Act, is causing business to relook at their governance practices within their own operations and not just their product supply chains. It is also making business look at how they can be much more transparent in disclosing their activity … it will be game changing! It’s backed by 85 investors representing $5.3 trillion (equivalent of twice the UK economy) who are indicating they are going to invest in higher performing businesses, creating not just the moral sustainable imperative to act, but the economic one too. The results highlight that many businesses are just getting started. This is because the Human Rights agenda requires business to think differently about risk to individuals rather than risk to business and to challenge if they have the right insight from their assessments, stakeholder engagement and grievance channels to hear the voices of affected rights holders.

We recognise that we still have a long way to go to embed Human Rights into our business. However, in the last 12 months we have made good progress and I’m pleased that’s been recognised in the CRHB. We’ve joined the UN Global compact, published our first Human Rights Report and Modern Slavery Statement, launched our interactive Supply Chain Map and made available much more detail on our Human rights approach. Human rights has been high on the board of directors’ agenda and this has resulted in strengthened governance, new policies, greater senior team commitment, supply chain engagement and guidance tools. Crucial to our progress is the interaction with many other businesses whose leadership on many issues we can learn from, human rights experts, collaborative initiatives, civil society, and especially workers. We welcome the feedback and the honest measurement the benchmarking team has given through the process to help us improve. It’s vital if we are going to make impactful progress. Now is the time for business, investors, government and civil society to stand up for human rights and get involved together we can make a difference.

For more detail, go to Corporate Human Rights Benchmark.

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