Valuing Respect is a unique collaborative platform bringing together diverse perspective in order to create smart tools and indicators that can better evaluate the true impact of business on people’s human rights.
Over the project’s three years, we will work iteratively with experts and stakeholders to identify ideas that we can share and further develop as the project evolves. Shift is working with three regional partners to ensure geographical diversity, as well as with an international advisory group of experts from different disciplines and organizations to help steer our work.
The project itself will not produce any rating, ranking or index, but will learn from, and may collaborate with, some who do. We know that those who work on these products already have great insights to share about what is missing and what would be needed to fundamentally improve them. So we want to learn from that knowledge. Hopefully, the project will also help leaders of existing ratings, ranking and indices in their on-going work to improve their products.
We believe that the project should add value to the work of the entire “eco-system” of actors concerned with business respect for human rights including companies, investors, NGOs, governments and affected people. Some outputs might provide a common approach to some aspect of evaluation. Other outputs might work for different stakeholders or contexts. We are starting with a cross-industry focus. But some insights and products will have particular relevance to certain industries, while others may be highly transferable.
We are starting from the premise that the project will not result in a one-size-fits-all set of indicators or metrics. Instead, we aim to develop a range of outputs that might include principles, example indicators, good practices, models and methodologies that can guide the improved evaluation of business respect for human rights.
The UNGP Reporting Framework guides companies to disclose the policies, approaches and actions they have in place to embed respect for human rights in the business, and address salient human rights issues. Using the “smart questions” embedded in the framework enables a company to have a clear and credible narrative about impacts on human rights. The UNGP RF does not provide guidance on how to evaluate progress and performance. This is where the Valuing Respect project is focusing.
The UNGP Assurance Guidance is designed for internal auditors and external assurance providers to help them evaluate evidence and determine whether or not a company is meeting its duty to respect human rights in its business processes. The Valuing Respect project goes beyond this to address a wider audience, including investors, benchmarking organizations and NGOs, to help them determine what the specific outcomes for people of a particular business’s initiatives to respect human rights.
When a business drives respect for human rights throughout its operations and value chain this can deliver major, positive sustainable development outcomes.
You can learn more about how respect for human rights contributes to sustainable development, and find examples that are already starting to measure the difference this makes, by reading our newly released set of case studies, The Human Rights Opportunity.
In practice, a large proportion of what is, and should be, included within definitions of a company’s ‘social performance’ is about respect for human rights, even if other terminology is often used. Our research into ESG (environmental, social and governance) measures bears this out. “S” measurements that reflect corporate philanthropy or community volunteering by employees are some that would fall outside the category of ‘respect for human rights', as those indicators look at how a company spends profits, not how it makes them.
We are thrilled that people are interested in contributing to the project! We welcome engagement from anyone interested in contributing research, collaborating on key ideas, or providing feedback to emerging insights and pilot programs. If you would like to engage directly with the project, you can contact us here.
We are collaborating with others to look into three broad areas. We will continually test and share insights as they emerge in The Conversation.
The three areas are:
Valuing Respect has received seed funding from Humanity United, as well as a three-year grant from Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages the Norwegian government pension fund. NBIM are funding 50% of the project each year.The project also receives funding from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland and The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Other grant providers, foundations and organizations that are interested in contributing financially to the project should contact us here.
No. But organizations that develop these types of products are often among the first to recognize the limitations of the types of indicator and metric that dominate the field of business and human rights or ‘social performance’ today, while many also have ideas for the kinds of information that could offer improved insights. This is a shared challenge that everyone within the field has faced, and the Valuing Respect project is intended to generate research, conversations and outputs that can help all practitioners, both inside and outside companies, advance their own work.