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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

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.

Human Rights Reporting in France

September 2018 | Michelle Langlois

For 3 years, Shift’s Reporting Program has mapped and analyzed the human rights disclosure of over 130 companies around the world. In this special report, we are bringing the spotlight to France, where we have analyzed and dissected the reporting of the top 20 companies listed on the CAC 40 index (by market cap). The purpose of this two-part report is to evaluate the extent to which the new French legislation brings companies closer to the reporting expectations that were set by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Human Rights Opportunity (in collaboration with WBCSD)

August 2018 | Sara Blackwell | Partners: World Business Council For Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Shift’s “The Human Rights Opportunity” offers 15 practical examples of how companies and multi-stakeholder initiatives are aiming to address human rights impacts and, at the same time, are showing great promise in delivering significant contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through this report, we seek to provide inspiration for how companies can harness innovation, leadership, influence and partnerships to tackle negative impacts in ways that maximize positive outcomes for people, in line with the SDGs.

When Counseling Clients on Risk, Lawyers Need to Take a Proactive Approach on Human Rights

February 2018 | John F. Sherman III

Developments in the legal profession in regards to providing counsel to corporate clients on preventing human rights impacts continue to advance, most recently in Europe.

Exploring Respect for Human Rights as a Driver for Business Action on Sustainable Development

December 2017 | Partners: Danish Institute for Human Rights

This collaborative project will equip and inspire companies to adopt coherent sustainable development strategies by embracing the power of initiatives that drive respect for human rights across operations and value chains.

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