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P1.5: Human Rights


Companies will regularly assess key risks related to human rights throughout their entire operations, and will employ management systems that are aligned with internal policies and support the implementation of universal standards.
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Implementing the U.N. Guiding Principles

In 2005 John Ruggie was appointed UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Businesses. Following this appointment, a multi-stakeholder consultation process ensued resulting in the June 2011 release of the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework.” Read more...

Check out Roadmap in Action for more examples of how companies are implementing the Ceres Roadmap.
At a minimum, all companies, regardless of industry, should implement formal policies addressing human rights, freedom of association, the elimination of discrimination, and working conditions. These policies should be clearly communicated to all relevant stakeholders and made accessible in local languages. Those impacted should also have access to confidential third-party grievance mechanisms. These initiatives should be integrated systematically across the enterprise, including contractors and suppliers.


In The Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on The Ceres Roadmap For Sustainability, we evaluated 600 of the largest U.S. companies on their progress towards meeting the expectations laid forth in The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, using data compiled and analyzed by Sustainalytics.

Tier description - 3Only 13 percent (80) of the 600 companies are included in the top 2 tiers for this expectation. The top-performing sector was Technology Hardware, with 41 percent (11 of 27 companies) included in Tiers 1 and 2. Stakeholder expectations for companies within this sector, however, continue to rise. A provision in the Dodd-Frank Act, for example, now requires all U.S. public companies using any of the four “conflict” minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) to trace those minerals back to their source and disclose the use of any that originate in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Conflict minerals present a unique and complex challenge for companies in the Technology Hardware sector and the full impact of this new requirement on the improvement of human rights has yet to be seen.


Protection of human rights is also particularly relevant for oil and gas producers whose operations are located in many environmentally and socially sensitive global regions and impact vast networks of employees and local communities. These companies should undertake social impact assessments for all projects, including a review of impacts on indigenous communities. Yet, only 19 percent of companies (six of 32) in the Oil & Gas sector are included in the top 2 tiers for overall human rights management.
Community consultation initiatives are also an important component of a meaningful human rights program for the Oil & Gas sector. Such programs should include active dialogue with local stakeholders regarding the negative impacts their business activities may have on the community and should also assign managerial responsibility for addressing grievances throughout a project’s life cycle. The three Oil & Gas companies included in Tier 1 — ExxonMobil, Hess and Occidental Petroleum — have robust community consultation programs in place.
For the majority of companies falling in the lowest 2 tiers, a stronger commitment to human rights can be instrumental in supporting a company’s efforts to obtain and maintain its social license to operate.



Click on a performance tier to view more information on the priority sectors.

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[23] Priority Sector Companies in Mediocre in 2012