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Business Learning

Shift’s Business Learning Program is carefully crafted to support companies that are serious about walking the talk to respect human rights.

Business Learning

Current Participants
  • AB InBev
  • BHP
  • Chanel
  • De Beers
  • Equinor
  • Ericsson
  • Ferrero
  • H&M
  • Hitachi
  • Inditex
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • NEXT
  • PepsiCo
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Sime Darby
  • Total
  • Unilever
  • UPM



A unique opportunity for companies that are truly committed to human rights


Shift’s Business Learning Program is carefully crafted to support companies that are serious about walking the talk to respect human rights.

Rather than doing the work for them, we help businesses build the internal capacity they need to successfully fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights.

We do so because we believe that true commitment to human rights means being willing to do the heavy lifting to transform processes, structures and mindsets. It requires stepping out of the office, and engaging with those who are affected the most. And it means going beyond cosmetic changes, and off-the-shelf fixes, to put in place coherent, in-depth strategies, and sustainable, collaborative solutions.

That is why we’ve designed a unique approach that focuses on supporting companies as they work to identify their most pressing human rights issues, prioritize those where people may be most at risk, and put in place enduring solutions to prevent and mitigate harm, as well as to provide meaningful remedy where needed.


 Participants at our 2019 Business Learning Workshop, at Harvard


We are purposely selective about who we work with


We like to think of our Business Learning Program as a two-way street. On the one hand, we support companies as they build the capacity and systems that they need. On the other, each engagement that we have is an opportunity to expand our own knowledge and understanding of how the UNGPs are put into action.

That is why, as a mission-driven, nonprofit organization, we take pride in choosing to work with those companies that we can learn most from and with which we can have the greatest impact. So, we are not looking for companies with a ‘clean slate’. Some come to us as leaders in the field, seeking to do better in a specific area of their human rights work; others are a few steps behind, and some have only recently acknowledged that they need help.

Regardless of what stage they are at, we base our decision to admit companies into our Business Learning Program on four criteria

Learn more about our board-approved criteria


If they make the commitment, companies are in for a frank, nuts-and-bolts, roll-up-your-sleeves journey


Companies that become participants of the Business Learning Program, enjoy:

  • Tailored strategic advice, coaching and capacity-building support on agreed priorities for implementing the UN Guiding Principles.

  • Participation in a unique, cross-industry network, where companies can safely engage in discussions and shared learning on the challenges they face when implementing the corporate responsibility to respect.

  • Access to a series of peer-learning opportunities, including our two flagship business learning workshops every year: one in the Spring, co-hosted with the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, and one in the Fall, in London, UK.

Is your company up for the challenge?


If you believe your company meets all four criteria, and it is ready to take the next step to embed respect for human rights in how business gets done, we’d love to hear from you.

 Participants discuss effective stakeholder engagement at the 2018 Business Learning workshop


See all activities and content related to this program

Handling and Resolving Local-Level Concerns and Grievances

December 2019 | International Council on Mining and Metals

Shift worked with ICMM in 2018 and 2019 to update the guidance they provide to their members on how to put in place effective operational-level grievance mechanisms, in line with the effectiveness criteria of the UN Guiding Principles. Our role included co-facilitating workshops with ICMM members; developing case studies with the support of ICMM members and inputting into the new guidance.

Respecting Trade Union Rights in Global Value Chains

October 2019 | Partners: Mondiaal FNV

Increasingly, businesses recognize their responsibility to respect human rights, including core labor rights like freedom of association and collective bargaining (jointly referred to as “trade union rights”). With this practical resource, Shift and Mondiaal FNV wish to equip companies with ideas and tools for taking action, in order to help close the gap between commitment and practice.

SMEs and the Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

September 2019 | Partners: International Organisation of Employers (IOE)

In April 2019, Shift and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) co-convened a workshop to explore the challenges, experiences and leading practices of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in fulfilling the responsibility to respect human rights. This summary note, published by IOE, provides an overview of the key takeaways.

Meaningful Engagement with Affected Stakeholders

October 2018

In this short piece from Senior Advisor David Kovick, he shares takeaways on meaningful stakeholder engagement by companies who are looking to respect human rights in their business practices, and some ways to put them into practice right away at your own company.

Supporting Financial Institutions to Implement the Guiding Principles

August 2016 | Partners: public and private financial institutions, including individual export credit agencies, development finance institutions and private banks

We're working directly with financial institutions and policymakers to build understanding of how the UN Guiding Principles can help financial institutions better manage risks to people arising from the projects and clients that they finance.

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