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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

Shift Comments on UK Financial Reporting Council's 2013 Exposure Draft Guidance

November 2013 | Shift, John G. Ruggie

In 2013, Shift submitted comments to the UK Financial Reporting Council regarding draft guidance for companies on compliance with the UK Companies Act.

Tax Abuse as a Business and Human Rights Issue

October 2013 | Lloyd Lipsett

Can corporate avoidance of taxes also lead to human rights harms?

Proposed Amendments to European Commission Reporting Directive

October 2013

Shift and our Chair John Ruggie submit proposals to the Commission to enhance the alignment of the proposed Directive with the Guiding Principles.

Raise the Curtain: Human Rights in Retail Supply Chains

September 2013 | Sean Ansett

Moving from auditing and codes to business integration and long-term relationships.

GSCP Reference Tool on Social and Labor Management Systems for Suppliers

September 2013 | Global Social Compliance Programme, Consumer Goods Forum

This resource, developed with support from Shift, is designed for suppliers to help them assess and manage social and labor rights risks through robust management systems.

Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Stakeholder Engagement

August 2013 | Shift

This resource helps companies understand what the Guiding Principles expect when they use the term “meaningful stakeholder engagement" and summarizes particular aspects of stakeholder engagement that are critical for implementing the Guiding Principles.

From Audit to Innovation: Advancing Human Rights in Global Supply Chains

August 2013 | Shift

This resource reviews the limitations of audits as human rights risk assessment and management tools, and offers examples and case studies of alternative and complementary approaches pioneered by companies in different sectors.

Company-Community Conflicts: Challenges and Opportunities for Mediators in the African Context

August 2013 | Brian Ganson

Skilled mediators can help resolve complex company-community conflicts.

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