This resource is based on Shift’s experience working with companies’ M&A teams on practical steps that can be taken as part of the existing M&A due diligence process. For more explanation and discussion of this topic, we also recommend our webinar with the UN Global Compact, Ericsson and Total.
Buying new companies and selling to other companies often involves inherent human rights risks – meaning the risk of harm to people. Those risks are steadily on the rise, and there is no shortage of examples of M&A transactions that fail, or cost significantly more for a company in the long term, because of a lack of consideration of human rights issues.
These kinds of inherent human rights risks are leading companies to start to integrate consideration for human rights into their M&A processes. Yet little information is publicly available about how they are seeking to do so. Revising due diligence checklists and crafting template representations and warranties alone will not work.
There is no shortage of examples of M&A transactions that fail, or cost significantly more for a company in the long term, because of a lack of consideration of human rights issues. Prominent examples include:
Based on work with companies that are at the leading edge of efforts to integrate consideration of human rights into their M&A processes, this article describes the notable differences between a traditional M&A process – one that seeks to identify and address risks to the company – and one that seeks to identify and address risks to people that play out throughout the M&A transaction. It describes the steps companies are taking to add the human rights lens when (i) identifying the issues to address in the course of due diligence, (ii) prioritizing the issues in preparation for contract negotiation and (iii) seeking to address these issues.
Although the article is intended primarily for companies and their in-house M&A teams, it will also be relevant for law firms that are increasingly seeking to advise clients in this area as well as other stakeholders interested in advancing business respect for human rights.