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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

What Do Human Rights Have to Do With Mergers and Acquisitions?

January 2016 | Anna Triponel, Shift

This resource provides guidance on how companies can identify and address human rights risks when structuring mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions.

Webinar: Introduction to the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework

December 2015 | Shift, UN Global Compact

This webinar explores how business can use the UN Guiding Principles Framework to report in a meaningful way on human rights risks and impacts. The webinar also features speakers from Shift, H&M and Newmont.

How to Do Business With Respect for Children’s Right to Be Free From Child Labour

December 2015 | Shift; International Labour Organization, International Organisation of Employers

This comprehensive guidance covers all aspects of implementing the Guiding Principles for companies, specifically focused on eliminating child labor.

How to Develop a Human Rights Policy

November 2015 | UN Global Compact

This foundational resource walks companies through the process of committing to respect human rights: developing a human rights policy.

Corporate Contradictions

September 2015 | Caroline Rees

How companies can avoid four stumbling blocks on the path to respect for human rights.

Mapping the Modern Slavery Act Against the UN Guiding Principles

July 2015 | Shift

This brief explains how the UK Modern Slavery Act aligns to the Guiding Principles, and how companies can meaningfully and efficiently meet expectations of both the Act and the Guiding Principles.

Addressing Sector-Wide Risks Through Negotiated Covenants in the Netherlands

July 2015 | 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.

Human Rights Due Diligence in High Risk Circumstances

March 2015 | Shift

This resource focuses on how to do human rights due diligence in high risk circumstances – and how to identify those circumstances in the first place.