Business Processes – Assessing Impacts

In these podcasts, business leaders discuss the ways in which human rights impacts are assessed and responded to by the company in question, as business leaders attempt to build awareness inside the company on human rights. Techniques focused on include non-financial criteria influencing business decisions, grievance mechanisms in practice and the need to seek external human rights advice.

All three speakers emphasise the benefits of assessing human rights impacts and responding to challenges identified. These podcasts were recorded prior to the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles.

“Within ABB we are faced with the issue of whether we are a force for good (by providing transmitted power) and the answer is ‘yes’ because electrical energy is a catalyst for the achievement of key human rights such as education, healthcare and housing.  But also we are part of a project where there may be negative impacts such as the displacement of people, and whether they have been adequately compensated or not is sometimes an open issue, particularly in societies where governance is weak.” Ron Popper, Head of Corporate Responsibility, ABB

We have a division of Social Standards that ensures compliance of the organisation on human rights issues.  We have a grievance mechanism.  This has been really a powerful tool, and we piloted a grievance mechanism with the help of John Ruggie’s team based on their guidelines.  This grievance mechanism has really helped us become aware of issues in the community that we were not capturing before.” Alexandra Guaqueta, former Head of Social Standards and International engagement, Cerrejόn 

“Integration of human rights is in many places of Total. You have Human Resources, as all labour laws linked to human rights; you have External Affairs who have contact with NGOs; Security in relation to the Voluntary Principles on Security and so on…Every month we have a human rights coordination meeting with all those departments and we also do joint training.  With Sustainable Development, we go into two countries together every year and we discuss for two days the management of those countries and we answer those questions together.” Bernard Claude, (retired) Chair, Ethics Committee, Total S.A.