Highlighting human rights issues impacting business
Washington DC, US
Karin Nunan, an ERM Principal Consultant, led a roundtable at ERM's District of Columbia office in March 2016 entitled, "Trends in Business in 2016 Affecting Human Rights." The discussion included many human rights leaders from various north American based entities, including international financial institutions, leading human rights nongovernmental organizations and private corporations.
The roundtable focused on the different ways human rights can affect the business ecosystems of global corporations, particularly around the role the private sector plays in enforcing global actions on the issue. Traditionally, corporate social responsibility programs have included an awareness of human rights issues across the operational spectrum of a business, but the degree to which companies have been addressing rising stakeholder expectations has been inconsistent, ranging from human rights as a central business tenet to consideration mostly as a function of regulatory compliance. Additionally, market downturns have opened a discussion around how best to preserve respect for human rights when budgets are constrained.
Global drivers also were deliberated, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and recent legislation, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency's Guidance on Tribal Treaty Rights, the UK Bribery Act and the US Dodd-Frank regulations. Roundtable participants discussed the role of corporations in implementing and providing leadership, rather than taking a "compliance only" approach.
Karin said of the event, "The issue of human rights touches every person on this planet. At ERM, we understand how important the issue is for businesses, their employees and the communities in which they operate. This roundtable served as a forum for a wide range of voices across the public and private sector to share knowledge, build awareness and explore solutions to some of the most challenging human rights issues of today."