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Respect

Businesses everywhere have a responsibility to respect human rights throughout their activities and business relationships. That means avoiding infringing on the rights of people, and addressing negative impacts where the business caused or contributed to them.

Pillar II: Business Responsibility to Respect

The second pillar of the Guiding Principles provides a blueprint for businesses to prevent and address negative human rights impacts. This blueprint is made up of eight elements — click on the elements below to explore each one. 

As companies implement the eight elements, they should also keep in mind these overarching concepts:

  • The “blueprint” of the Guiding Principles is a risk management approach – but the focus is on risk to people, not just risk to the business;
  • The responsibility to respect human rights extends throughout a company’s own operations and all of its business relationships throughout its value chain;
  • Compliance with local law may not be sufficient to meet the expectations of the Guiding Principles;
  • Companies cannot offset negative impacts on people by “doing good,” such as through philanthropy or staff volunteering.


1. Commit

Making a public statement

2. Embed

Making respect part of company culture

3. Assess

Moving from reactive to proactive

4. Act

Walking the talk

5. Track

Knowing if it worked

6. Communicate

Explaining the company's efforts

7. Engage

Conducting meaningful dialogue

8. Remediate

Ensuring early warning and effective solutions

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.

Listening to Affected Stakeholders to Improve Business Human Rights Performance

September 2019 | Jana Mudronova

Shift Advisor Jana Mudronova discusses how meaningful stakeholder engagement can lead to more reliable, trusted and meaningful data, and play a key role in informing evaluation

Addressing Sector-Wide Risks Through Negotiated Covenants in the Netherlands

May 2019 | Partners: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands

Shift is supporting the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs as part of a process to engage leading Dutch business sectors in developing sector-based covenants to address “international CSR” risks.

Going from Research that Makes the Case to Tools that Make the Difference

April 2019 | Mark Hodge

Project Lead Mark Hodge looks back on progress made in 2018 and discusses the beta version of a new tool to help companies evaluate outcomes for people.

How to Report Meaningfully Under the French Duty of Vigilance Law

January 2019 | Michelle Langlois

Get on the right path to writing your first annual update, even if you don’t have everything figured out.

Human Rights Reporting in the Canadian Mining Sector

January 2019 | Erika Piquero

Over the past few months, Shift has analyzed the human rights disclosure of 18 Canadian mining companies (traditional mining companies, along with a number of streaming and royalty companies). Our research revealed strengths and weaknesses of the sector’s reporting trends, which informed our key recommendations. Undoubtedly, analysis of the Canadian mining sector’s human rights disclosure can be a significant entry point for addressing human rights disclosure, and underlying human rights performance, of the mining industry globally.

Tackling Modern Slavery through Financial Sector Leverage

January 2019 | Liechtenstein Initiative | Partners: Liechtenstein Initiative

This briefing paper was commissioned by the United Nations University, as part of the Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission's efforts to push beyond the boundaries of compliance towards creative financial sector action to prevent and address modern slavery and human trafficking.

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