From Expectation to Business Imperative: A New Age of Corporate Communications on Human Rights

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From Expectation to Business Imperative: A New Age of Corporate Communications on Human Rights

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From Expectation to Business Imperative: A New Age of Corporate Communications on #HumanRights via @Cone
Thursday, January 14, 2016 - 10:05am

CONTENT: Article

The subject of human rights has long been the black sheep of the corporate responsibility (CR) “family” of issues. Respecting and promoting human rights can be a challenge if companies don’t have insight into their human rights practices, impacts and policies. And yet, these rights are so very important to the way we work, the products and services we choose to support, and the opportunities we have in our lives and communities. 

The truth is that for far too many people around the world, human rights are being compromised. Thankfully, an increasing number of companies are beginning to shape policies, approaches and even communications, to address the human rights issues that are important to their employees, other stakeholders and the sustainability of their business. 

A changing transparency landscape 

So why should companies focus on communicating about human rights? 

A driving force in corporate transparency has been increased coverage of human rights abuses in the media. Stories like the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh – which killed over 1,100 workers – ignited an international dialogue about the role of companies in protecting human rights and led people to demand more corporate disclosure. 

These kinds of tragedies have prompted new regulations, heightened stakeholder interest and a rejuvenated focus on reporting standards.  Most notably in 2015, the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework was launched, providing the first comprehensive guide for businesses to report on their most salient human rights issues. 

As the conversation around human rights has increased, so has the complexity and variety of human rights issues entering the public dialogue. 

Not just an issue for developing countries 

For much of 2015, conversations have escalated on human rights and wages. In particular, more than 500 U.S. cities experienced wage strikes, recognizing the 75 million Americans working at or below poverty-level wages. The “Fight for $15” – an effort to increase the minimum wage – has engaged millions and found alignment in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. 

Debate also continues on wage parity between the sexes. Despite the passage of the U.S. Equal Pay Act in 1963 requiring men and women to be paid equally for doing the same work, 2014 data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed that female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Salesforce is one company that has decided to take a stand on the issue. After reviewing its 17,000 employee’s salaries, the company revised its payroll to ensure men and women are being paid equally for similar jobs. 

It’s clear that human rights shouldn’t be viewed as purely an issue in developing nations—resolution of issues such as those pertaining to fair wages is critical to the ability of all people having the opportunities they deserve. 

To read the full article, visit CSRwire here.

Keywords: Business & Trade | Cone Communications | Human Rights | Media & Communications

CONTENT: Article