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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

Dissecting Human Rights Disclosure: a Tool for Investors (Gender)

March 2020 | Nora Mardirossian

This resource is part of a growing collection designed to help investors read and interpret corporate human rights disclosure. This specific resource focuses on excerpts from company reporting on company efforts to tackle gender-based impacts.

Dissecting Human Rights Disclosure: a Tool for Investors (Vulnerable Stakeholders)

March 2020 | Erika Piquero

This resource is part of a growing collection designed to help investors read and interpret corporate human rights disclosure. This specific resource focuses on excerpts from company reporting on engagement with vulnerable stakeholders.

Respetar los Derechos Sindicales en las Cadenas Globales de Valor

February 2020 | Partners: Mondiaal FNV

Cada vez más, las empresas reconocen su responsabilidad de respetar los derechos humanos, incluyendo los derechos laborales como son la libertad de asociación y la negociación colectiva (conocidos en su conjunto como derechos sindicales). Con este recurso práctico, Shift y Mondiaal FNV buscan equipar a las empresas con ideas y herramientas para que puedan tomar acción y cerrar la brecha entre el compromiso y lo que sucede en la realidad.

Realizing Trade Union Rights: Diagnosing Barriers and Moving to Action

January 2020 | David Vermijs

Senior Advisor David Vermijs discusses some of the barriers that companies face when aiming to fulfill their responsibility to ensure that workers have freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (also known as trade union rights)

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.

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