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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

Supporting Financial Institutions to Implement the Guiding Principles

August 2016 | Partners: public and private financial institutions, including individual export credit agencies, development finance institutions and private banks

We're working directly with financial institutions and policymakers to build understanding of how the UN Guiding Principles can help financial institutions better manage risks to people arising from the projects and clients that they finance.

IBA Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers

June 2016 | International Bar Association

This foundational guidance, issued by the International Bar Association, is designed to help bar associations and business lawyers everywhere understand the Guiding Principles.

What Do Company Directors Need to Know About Human Rights?

May 2016 | Caroline Rees

New guidance published by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission tells company boards what they need to know about human rights.

Business and Human Rights: A Five-Step Guide for Company Boards

May 2016 | Shift and UK Equality and Human Rights Commission

This short guidance provides “need to know” information for company leaders about how to meet the UN Guiding Principles’ expectations of doing business with respect for human rights.

“For the Game. For the World.” FIFA and Human Rights

April 2016 | John G. Ruggie; Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

This independent report by former Special Representative John Ruggie and Shift recommends how global football body FIFA needs to manage the far-reaching human rights risks associated with its activities and relationships.

Webinar: Integrating Human Rights Considerations Into Mergers and Acquisitions

April 2016 | Shift, UN Global Compact

This webinar, hosted by the UN Global Compact, provides an overview and discussion of how human rights can and should be considered in mergers and acquisitions processes. It features speakers from Shift, Total and Ericsson.

The Sustainable Development Goals and the Guiding Principles

February 2016 | John G. Ruggie

This open letter was authored by Shift Chair John Ruggie and sent to the heads of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development.

Video: Introduction to Salient Human Rights Issues

February 2016 | Shift and Mazars; UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

What are salient human rights issues and why do they matter? This short video introduces the concept and explains how companies should focus on salient issues for both action and reporting.