Tesco and Modelez commit to human rights action, Kraft Heinz lags – new report from $5 trillion investor coalition
submitted 2 years, 2 months ago by mike_weber


· The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), backed by Aviva Investors, APG Asset Management and Nordea and supported by the UK, Dutch and Swiss governments, finds apparel, agriculture and extractives companies are committing to addressing gaps in human rights management approaches and are seeking external support in order to improve performance and rankings in future benchmarks.

· As more and more companies engage on human rights, benchmarking is helping to drive a race to the top in corporate human rights performance. This is good news, but not all companies are engaging on human rights, especially lower ranked companies.

(London, 14th May 2018) - A new report from the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), a non-profit ranking corporate performance on human rights, backed by major investors (Aviva Investors, APG and Nordea) and civil society organisations (Institute of Human Rights and Business, EIRIS Foundation, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre and VBDO), reveals today that corporate management of human rights is showing signs of improvement - with benchmarks, civil society and investor pressure helping to create a “race to the top”.

Benchmarked companies, either directly engaging with CHRB, or in response to a $5tn investor coalition that endorsed the CHRB, have recognised their position in the rankings in the 2017 benchmark and are committed to improving their performance. Some, such as Nestle, Gap, Freeport-McMoRan, Mondelez and Tesco are all quoted in the CHRB report as reviewing and positively evolving their programmes and policies to manage and report on human rights. This is backed up by specialist consultancies/advisors such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and ERM who have seen increased demand for human rights support in the wake of the CHRB pilot. More widely, investors such as Union Investment in Germany, discuss how poor company human rights performance, informed by the CHRB and others, can result in exclusion from specific funds.

Linked to new legislation and civil-society led reporting frameworks, CHRB has seen a growth in human rights reporting and commitment to transparency since the launch of the pilot benchmark in 2017. Last October for example, Coca-Cola released its first stand-alone Human Rights report, partly as a reaction to the first benchmark. Elsewhere, the Shift Project has recorded a rise in company human rights reports from 13 in 2015 to 52 in 2017, while over 5,000 companies have now reported on their public commitments to avoid modern slavery in their supply chain. This increased disclosure is crucial for accountability and for understanding corporate performance on human rights.

However, the report also names 28[1] companies that have not meaningfully engaged with the CHRB (i.e. not responding to the investor coalition, not responding to CHRB invitations, consultations or communications and not taking part in the 2018 benchmark engagements). These large companies, including Kraft Heinz, Macy’s, Hermes and Prada, had some of the lowest scores in the benchmark, indicating a lack of transparency and public commitment to managing human rights risks and impacts. While the CHRB is pleased with the progress to date, it is clear there is a long way to go before the UN Guiding Principles become part of business as usual.

Steve Waygood, Chair of the CHRB Board and Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, said:
“Five years on from Rana Plaza and one year on from the first Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, this report indicates that benchmarking is beginning to drive a race to the top on business and human rights. That is good news. However, we should all be concerned by the lack of engagement from around a quarter of companies, particularly as they are in priority sectors concerning serious human rights impacts. Issues such as modern day slavery, worker safety and freedom of association can be material to the financial performance of these companies and they may risk restricted access to capital due to reputational damage and regulatory backlash.”

In 2018, the CHRB members, working with existing and emerging investor coalitions, will push for greater corporate transparency and engagement, with revised results for the apparel, agriculture and extractives sectors to be launched in November. The CHRB is also committed to expanding the assessment into the ICT sector, with a pilot benchmark planned for 2019.


lbt 0 points posted 2 years, 2 months ago

This is great to see - technology can play an important role monitoring supply chains and help with human rights reporting - I'd love to see that become a regulatory necessity some day. Check out this great article by Emma around using tech to avoid slavery in supply chains - also highlights tech efforts by groups such as Olam: https://agfundernews.com/can-technology-get-slavery-food-supply-chains.html

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