When I reflect on the journey of The Coca-Cola Company and the private sector overall in working to bring about respect for human rights across our businesses, I think we have certainly come a long way. We have progressed on some important issues, most notably the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We have learned from each other and increased the level of corporate and supply chain transparency. We've built multi-stakeholder coalitions to address some of the most challenging issues of our time such as forced labor, child labor and land rights.

But our work is really only just beginning. And, it’s is a call to action for all of us.

The release of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark is a reminder that we are all on a journey. The CHRB calls out important areas of improvement as we in business seek to fully realize our commitments to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

At The Coca-Cola Company, we are committed to fostering open and inclusive workplaces where human rights are respected and all employees are valued and inspired. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in putting in place a set of policies, programs and actions that help us realize our commitment to accountability, transparency and respect for human rights across our business.

As the field of human rights and business evolves, so must we. And, we are constantly pushing ourselves and striving for improvement.

Among the recent steps we have taken is an initial analysis of potential and actual human rights impacts across our value chain, or our “salient human rights”. We have identified human rights risks along with policies and actions for mitigating them. Over the past year, this has involved seven human rights workshops at the global and regional levels across our business, as well as an engagement process currently underway with stakeholders from civil society. The challenges vary by region, but this deeper analysis will enable us to retool our policies and approaches so we can best address the most pressing human rights issues facing our business and in the communities where we operate.

The challenges we face in human rights and business today can seem especially daunting. Expectations are high from our consumers and stakeholders, and the issues across our value chains even more complex. But, I’m an optimist. And, I am confident that through not only the actions we take as a business and industry but that cross-sector partnership and collaboration will help move us towards a shared vision of the world in which human rights are more fully respected and realized for all. 

Brent Wilton is director of global workplace rights at The Coca-Cola Company.