Implementation of a thorough human rights programme can be achieved through five key phases, as explained by Richard Karmel.
Phase 1: Planning
Prior to the commencement of any exercise, time spent at the planning phase is rarely wasted. At this stage we undertake a due diligence review of your current position on human rights.
Typically, we consider the context in which your company is operating and the specific human rights challenges this may pose such as:
- potential impacts of the company's operations on human rights;
- perceived or potential risks for your company to contribute to abuses through the relationships connected to the company's activities.
Phase 2: Defining the strategy
Identifying the corporate strategy on human rights and embedding this throughout the whole organisation will be key to its success. This strategy will provide the “roadmap” to achieve the overall vision of a human rights culture.
The development of the strategy will require the engagement of many stakeholders including those at top management levels. This is likely to require a mindset beyond immediate financial gain, however if successful, a human rights strategy will lead to longer term and more sustainable profit for all stakeholders.
The benefit of establishing a human rights strategy is that it will help define consistency of communication and also act as the catalyst for a human rights culture becoming embedded throughout the corporation.
Phase 3: Scoping the policies
Once the risks have been identified through due diligence in Phase 1, we would map these risks to the relevant human rights policies that the company should adopt in order to align with the United Nations guiding principles.
We will recommend best practice in human rights and advise on how to best embed these practices within the policies.
With a clear set of formalised policies the core values and strategy of the business can be translated into action.
There are many benefits to having a formal and effective company policy. They will:
- help alignment with your human rights strategy;
- provide an easily accessible document for stakeholders to review;
- provide a public statement on your position as regards human rights.
Phase 4: Engagement
Engagement both within the company and externally will build trust with all stakeholders. By preparing an engagement programme internally you will help the integration of human rights into the culture of the company. Training can be introduced through the targeting of appropriate groups, perhaps to the most influential groups within the organisation.
By introducing an external programme, you will be encouraging the uptake of human rights principles among business partners and other organisations. This should help alleviate the risk of any misinformation about the company being disseminated and will reduce any mistrust that may already exist.
Mazars can assist in both the design and the delivery of the most appropriate training programmes for your organisation.
Phase 5: Evaluation
This will initially take place through internal auditing and monitoring procedures, before progressing to external assurance. As one of the leading global assurance providers, Mazars has a brand and reputation that provides all stakeholders with confidence in our independent report conclusions, for both internal and external purposes.
The benefits of commissioning an independent report:
- It provides a demonstration of the commitment of the corporation to respect human rights to its stakeholders;
- It may provide comfort that human rights also covers the supply chain and will help minimise any reputational issues later on; and
- Reporting on human rights will be in line with the Global Reporting Initiative and may be picked up by relevant ratings agencies.