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Policy Action Needed Despite Firms’ Human Rights Improvements

Large firms have “significantly improved” their actions on human rights over the past five years, but the continued poor performance of a large minority has increased calls for mandatory legislation. The World Benchmarking Alliance’s fifth annual Corporate Human Rights Benchmark found that more firms were making commitments, developing due diligence practices and establishing grievance mechanisms for workers. Instituting board-level processes was seen as key, with 75% of the firms that had improved most on human rights due diligence having taken this step. The study assessed the policies, processes and practices of 127 companies spanning food and agriculture products, ICT and automotive manufacturing sectors, including Unilever, Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Ford, Amazon, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft. Since first being included in the benchmark66% of food and agricultural products companies, 65% of ICT companies, and 57% of automotive companies have improved their scores. But 36% of all companies scoring zero on human rights due diligence. “A decade after the UN Guiding Principles were establishedtheir impact on the ground is very limited. It is high time that companies take serious actions to implement their commitments,” said Namit Agarwal, World Benchmarking Alliance’s Social Transformation Lead. “With the right legislationgovernments around the world can ensure effective corporate respect for human rights. Legislation levels the playing field in areas where voluntary efforts are failingsuch as meaningful stakeholder engagement and human rights due diligence.” 





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