Ed Potter, Coca-Cola’s Director for Global Workplace Rights, says that implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is really just a question of getting started.

On June 16, 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, providing a framework for corporations to strengthen their approach to demonstrating respect for human rights. Business integration of the Guiding Principles provides a roadmap for consistency and accountability in addressing these issues throughout business functions and across the supply chain.

The “Say-Do” gap in implementing the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights may appear daunting and demands real attention, resources and business integration across all functions. But ultimately, it is a question of just getting started.

Guiding Principle 15 sets out the basics: 

  • First, a company needs a policy commitment to respect human rights.  The policy commitment need not be elaborate or complicated, but it should encompass potential human rights impacts both in the workplace and in the communities in which your company and supply chain operate.
  • Second, a company should establish a human rights due diligence process to identify, prevent or mitigate potential human rights impact.  Due diligence and early issue identification are not new to companies, and human rights issues can simply be integrated into existing issue identification processes.  A suggested first step to understand what to look for is to conduct an analysis of the company’s potential human rights impact across its value chain.
  • Third, where there are adverse human rights impacts, processes must be in place to remediate the impact. 
  • And finally, the expectation of the Guiding Principles is that a company will ‘know and show’ that it respects human rights.  This can be accomplished by incorporating relevant updates into company sustainability reports and websites.
Want more from Ed? Find the rest of this post on the Corporate Citizenship site.