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Embedding Respect for Human Rights in Key Company Functions

Shift provided expert support to CSR Europe to help its member companies understand how to effectively embed respect for human rights across their operations, and particularly in the key functions in human resources, procurement and risk.

September 2014

PARTNERS: CSR Europe

In 2014, Shift provided expert support to CSR Europe - the leading European business network for corporate social responsibility - to help its member companies understand how to effectively embed respect for human rights across their operations, and particularly in the key functions in human resources, procurement and risk. | See all our resources about embedding

Embedding can be thought of as the macro-level process of ensuring that a company’s responsibility to respect human rights is driven across the organization, into its business, values and culture. The Guiding Principles do not prescribe a single approach for how companies should embed their responsibility to respect; what is most effective will depend on an individual company’s context, including its corporate culture, types of business activities, and the positioning of different functions internally. 

Shift has identified a number of critical elements for successful embedding, including: 

  • Two-way communication between management and operational staff, including about challenges and how they can be addressed;
  • Setting appropriate performance goals for all staff to align incentives;
  • Cross-functional coordination and leadership; 
  • Shared responsibility for outcomes, including those with responsibility for the activities or business relationships that may give rise to human rights risks;
  • Tailored operational guidance and continuous training;
  • Regular analysis of the company’s performance.

Shift’s support to CSR Europe involved research and webinars exploring these various elements of embedding, including identifying examples of how different companies have sought to embed the responsibility to respect in each of the three functions identified above. Shift also led a workshop for CSR Europe member companies on these issues in Brussels, hosted by Microsoft. The research and workshop discussions formed the basis of a public report by CSR Europe released in 2015. CSR Europe also drew on this collaboration in the production of their 2016 report Blueprint for Embedding Human Rights in Key Company Functions.

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