Human Rights, Risks & Obligations
Rising expectations on businesses to mitigate risks of human rights violation and exploitation bring up several questions that need to be addressed.
Human rights are ethical principles that have always been a hot topic among businesses and industries. With rising expectations on businesses to mitigate risks of human rights violation and exploitation, there are several questions that need to be answered.
In addition to the critical human rights issues demanding attention in the coming years such as forced labour, race-based discrimination, climate-driven migration, COVID-19 brought out some serious issues, reflecting pandemic-driven impacts on nearly every facet of life, from health to the economy, from the workplace to global trade. Cases of migrant and low-income workers being exploited since many companies considered it acceptable to withhold and refuse to pay wages, and a humanitarian crisis at sea, with over 400,000 seafarers “stranded” aboard ships. Other issues included revamping supply chains for pandemic influenced economy, uncertainties over the future of modern technology and modern workplace as remote work has been hugely successful in many areas.
Countries are passing laws and revising current laws to address the increasing pressure and expectations from investors and the public for states and businesses to protect and respect human rights. The UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA) which came into effect in 2015 was a global benchmark for raising the profile of human rights, specifically modern slavery. In 2018, Australia adopted the same legislation and by March 2021, European Parliament followed suit to vote for introducing mandatory human rights due diligence requirements for companies based or operating in the EU.
There is growing evidence that breaching human rights can cost a business dearly, from financial loss to loss of integrity, trust and credibility. Lawsuits and consumer boycotts are also detrimental to a business.
But these can be avoided by having a sound policy, procedures and processes in place to manage risks and impacts.
To learn more about human rights, risks and obligations for businesses and how to embed good business practice to manage risks, download our latest eBook for free here.