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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

Human Rights Reporting: Are Companies Telling Investors What They Need to Know?

May 2017 | Michelle Langlois, Shift; supported by the UK Department for International Development, EY and Hermes Investment Management

This research assesses 74 of the world's largest companies for their maturity in reporting on human rights.

NBIM Workshop Report: Implementing the UN Guiding Principles

January 2017 | Shift | Partners: Norges Bank Investment Management

Summary report from a workshop facilitated by Shift for Norges Bank Investment Management and investee companies

Doing Business With Respect for Human Rights

November 2016 | Global Compact Network Netherlands, Oxfam, Shift

This comprehensive and foundational guide offers practical advice, experiences and insights to help companies respect human rights.

Business, Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals: Forging a Coherent Vision and Strategy

November 2016 | Caroline Rees, Shift; Business and Sustainable Development Commission

Companies’ single greatest opportunity to contribute to human development lies in advancing respect for the human rights of workers and communities touched by their value chains.

Making Globalization Work for All: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Through Business Respect for Human Rights

November 2016 | John G. Ruggie

Respect for the dignity of every person is at the very core of the people part of sustainable development — and is critical for a socially sustainable globalization.

What Do the UN Sustainable Development Goals Have to Do With Corporate Respect for Human Rights?

September 2016 | Caroline Rees

For business to realize its full contribution to sustainable development, it must put efforts to advance respect for human rights at the heart of its strategy.

Relationship Between the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Guiding Principles

September 2016 | Shift

In this webinar, Shift President Caroline Rees says that for business to realize its full contribution to sustainable development, it must put efforts to advance respect for human rights at the heart of its strategy.

Forging the Path as Wise Counselors

September 2016 | David W. Rivkin, President

International Bar Association President David. W. Rivkin writes about the far-reaching implications of the IBA's new Practical Guide for business lawyers on human rights.

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