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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

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.

Raising Awareness on the Guiding Principles in Zambia

July 2013 | Partners: Caritas-Zambia

In collaboration with partners, Shift facilitated awareness raising workshops in Lusaka, Zambia for government, business and civil society.

Supporting the OECD on Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector

July 2013 | Partners: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Shift authored a discussion paper for the OECD on stakeholder engagement in the extractive industry, setting out options and recommendations for a proposed "user guide" to address this issue.

European Commission Sector Guides on Implementing the Guiding Principles

June 2013 | European Commission; Shift and Institute for Human Rights and Business

These three comprehensive guidance documents cover all aspects of implementing the Guiding Principles for companies in three sectors: information and communication technologies (ICT), oil and gas and employment and recruitment.

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