The Pilot Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) is due for publication in November this year and will feature an initial 100 companies.
Those behind it (Aviva Investors, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Calvert Investments, EIRIS, Institute for Human Rights and Business and VBDO), together with supporters of the initiative, are confident that the CHRB has the potential to scrutinise, incentivise and recognise those companies doing the right thing in the arena of human rights, and penalise those that do not.
As Steve Waygood of Aviva Investors stated in a Reuters interview: “Aviva would use the CHRB to measure a company’s progress on human rights over time, and then exert pressure on companies that lag near the bottom. Aviva might, for example, withhold its support for some candidates for a company’s board of directors.”
Whilst, echoing the sentiments of many supporters, Jeff Furman, Chairman of the Board of Ben & Jerry’s expects that:
“The initiative by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark to rank 500 companies on their human rights performance should drive a change in corporate behavior. This performance ranking is built on what the companies do rather than their rhetoric. Those who truly support and deliver on high labor, environmental and human rights standards will be recognized and those that do not will have their records exposed to investors, customers, civil society, and home governments. The expectation is that this ranking system will drive a race to the top and a competition to benefit people, the planet, and the bottom line." Source: http://www.ihrb.org/our-work/corporate-human-rights-benchmark.html
A number of questions arise for the business community, including:
• Is this the beginning of the end or only the end of the beginning on company benchmarking?
• Will demands for transparency and accountability from companies lead to government action to create further human rights regulation / legislation?
• Will the CHRB result in the desired impact for stakeholders: e.g. will investors be able to better anticipate human rights risk or absence of human rights culture in companies? And,
• What are the implications of all of this for those responsible for coordinating their company’s response to developments in the business & human rights arena?
These and related questions will be addressed at the session on 22nd June which will be co-led Richard Morgan, Head of International & Government Relations, for AngloAmerican, one of the world’s largest mining companies; and Elodie Grant-Goodey who is a lead C&E Associate on business & human rights, and formerly a societal issues executive at BP.
C&E’s Breakfast Dialogue series are free, by invitation, informal discussions held over a light breakfast and involving a dozen or so senior participants from corporate, NGO and public sector backgrounds. They are highly interactive, informed, co-learning discussions in which participants share their perspectives, experiences and insights - under Chatham House rules.