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Moving from reactive to proactive


The first step of human rights due diligence is assessing how the company’s operations and business relationships can pose risks to human rights. This means considering the negative human rights impacts that the company’s current or planned activities could have on individuals and communities. It also means considering negative impacts that could arise through any of a company’s business relationships in its value chain, such as suppliers, contractors, joint venture partners or business customers. The process should include both actual impacts that have happened as well as potential impacts – or what are often called “human rights risks.” Assessing impacts can be a challenging process. Identifying the company’s “salient” (or leading) human rights issues can provide a focus for the company’s efforts based on an evaluation of where the risks of harm to people may be most severe.

Learn more: see all our resource library listings below, as well as specific sections from these comprehensive resources:

Corporate Contradictions

September 2015 | Caroline Rees

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

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.

Business and Human Rights Impacts: Identifying and Prioritizing Human Rights Risks

January 2014 | Shift

This report reflects learning from a workshop with 12 Dutch companies together with expert stakeholders about how companies can identify and prioritize human rights risks and test their findings through stakeholder engagement.

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.

Respecting Human Rights Through Global Supply Chains

August 2012 | Shift

This resource examines how companies can implement the Guiding Principles throughout their supply chains, including identifying and prioritizing risks, using their leverage, understanding the role of auditing and supporting grievance mechanisms.

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