Human rights due diligence: questions for boards to ask of their executive teams

Advice and Guidance

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Board members may find these questions useful to guide discussions with senior management about the company’s salient human rights issues.

1. What is the company doing to make respect for human rights a part of how it does business?

  • Do company functions that pose risks to human rights have sufficient resources and responsibility to manage and mitigate those risks?
  • Is there a senior manager actively leading on human rights in the company?
  • Are there procedures for human rights risks and impacts to be escalated to the board?
  • How are staff encouraged to raise human rights risks and take steps to mitigate and manage them? How are staff rewarded for doing so?
  • What indicators assess the effectiveness of human rights risk management processes?
  • Does a member of the executive team have expertise on human rights? Is there a board champion for human rights?

2. How does the company know what negative impacts it may have on people’s human rights?

  • Does the company assess its human rights risks across its operations and supply chain, geographic locations and decision making processes?
  • What has the company identified as its salient human rights issues and on what basis? Has it drawn on the experience and knowledge of a broad range of stakeholders?
  • How do senior management know whether the company’s policies and processes related to human rights are effective?

3. What steps is the company taking to reduce and mitigate its risks?

  • How does the company use its influence to reduce risks to human rights in its supply chain and other business relationships?
  • What does the company do to ensure it is not contributing to human rights impacts through its own actions and decisions?
  • Does the company work with others in the industry, or with multi-stakeholder groups to address human rights risks?
  • What is the company doing to provide remedy if its own actions or decisions lead to impacts on human rights?

4. How does the company engage with stakeholders to help it understand and address human rights risks?

  • Does the company engage with a broad range of stakeholders across its business to inform its understanding of human rights risks and its progress in reducing these risks?
  • How do people inside or outside the company raise concerns about human rights impacts, and how does the company know whether these channels work?

5. Does the company explain which human rights issues it is reporting on and why?

  • Does the company provide sufficient information to explain its human rights challenges and provide examples of how its actions are improving human rights outcomes?
  • Does the report include indicators or other metrics to provide evidence of progress over time?
  • Do senior management have enough information to meet regulatory reporting requirements?

Last updated: 30 Aug 2019