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Demystifying the Human Rights Journey

by | Mar 6, 2023 | Blog, Labor & Human Rights

As human rights due diligence legislation evolves globally, companies are expected to up their game and do more to identify, understand, remediate, and report on their supply chains. For years leading companies have utilized ad hoc programs to address human rights. Due to changing legislation, every major company needs a human rights program, and the requirements for these programs are becoming more clear and more formal than ever before. Because of this, human rights due diligence has increasingly become part of the corporate and investment landscape, but the question remains: Where do you start, and how do you ensure you build for the future while complying with requirements here and now?

In a recent SupplyShift webinar, Demystifying The Human Rights Due Diligence Journey, we invited industry experts to provide their perspectives on this issue. The allocated hour came and went. It was far too short, so we decided to summarize the important insights and speak about a new solution that helps corporations address Human Rights Due Diligence based on our existing expertise and platform.

In summary, the recommendations from our panelists are:

  • New legislation requires companies to continuously address human rights with a process integrated into their business operations instead of treating it as a stand-alone project with a start and an end.
  • Supplier human rights assessments can help organizations identify, mitigate, remedy, and prevent adverse human rights impacts.
  • Digital tools to enable supplier engagement and transparency can create visibility that will help organizations to make better decisions.

How Digital Tools Help

The information, resources, and transparency provided by digital tools are becoming necessary to properly adopt a due diligence system that complies with the range of global human rights laws. But which parts of the entire system can a digital tool provide, and which parts are internal business processes that each company must put into place based on the output of digital tools? These complex questions are further complicated given the range of digital service providers and the various solutions they offer. To address this challenge, SupplyShift is excited to announce our new Human Rights Compliance Package in partnership with Verisk Maplecroft and Ulula.

Focus Your Resources

The Human Rights Compliance Package embeds data from Verisk Maplecroft into SupplyShift’s platform to support your Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA). Companies will want to focus the initial HRIA efforts in high-risk areas. Global risk intelligence databases, such as the one provided by Verisk Maplecroft, help identify countries and regions with an elevated risk of a range of human rights abuses. An HRIA will also take account of local laws for context, while core international human rights apply to all in every context. Methodologies and tools for HRIAs are rooted in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs) and the universal rights contained in the International Bill of Rights. Scoring and output in the form of saliency analysis and recommendations follow a standardized methodology that will help clients focus their resources on the most urgent issues.

Assess Your Suppliers

However, it is important to note that human rights violations can happen in any country and industry. So assessing suppliers’ policies and practices related to human rights is a core requirement of human rights due diligence laws and, therefore, a critical component of our package. SupplyShift’s Human Rights Compliance Assessment covers all key topics and issues to help you understand whether your suppliers meet the basic requirements of due diligence laws. It also requests supporting documentation from suppliers, and our package includes the validation service to ensure that supplier entries are supported by evidence. Our in-house experts created our assessment based on a review of all relevant country-level laws. It has undergone rigorous review by external consultants, as well as by human rights lawyers.

The output is a full set of data and documents available to our customers and a simple risk score. For companies to make real progress with suppliers, access to the full supplier response and supporting documentation is critical, combined with tools to request action and approve supplier updates. In addition, the simple score output can be easily integrated into business processes so that gates and escalations can be programmed into your business process, per requirements of human rights due diligence laws. With a stepwise approach of assessing increasing numbers of suppliers to gain insights and drive change, you can continue to address issues as they arise.

Grievance Mechanisms

The third component of our solution is an effective grievance mechanism and remediation process. Effective grievance mechanisms are increasingly becoming mandated by law (the German Supply Chain Act) and are critical in ensuring worker engagement and feedback. Leveraging Ulula’s grievance mechanism and case management platform, companies can access an anonymous grievance reporting line that follows a standard protocol and case management capabilities. Ulula’s grievance mechanism offers a cost-effective and scalable solution to gather worker feedback data. This data measures an organization’s impact on stakeholders and supports the management of grievances and remedy provision.

Available in almost any language and communication channel, the tool automates grievance intake through chatbots that operate 24/7. Stakeholders submit grievances anonymously, in their local language, directly from their mobile phones. The case management feature allows organizations to add expert third parties to the platform to support the investigation and remediation of individual cases while preserving the complainant’s anonymity. Conversations are auto-translated by the platform for seamless 2-way multilingual communication between stakeholders.

Tool Customization and Integration

Because the needs of companies vary, we work with clients to co-design the best solution that fits their needs – based on legal requirements, risk level, and commitments to stakeholders. Our out-of-the-box solution will suit most companies, and we are also committed to providing customized solutions that meet the needs of companies at varying maturity levels.

Another critical component of third-party digital tools is how they can be integrated into the complex and diverse digital environment all companies face nowadays. We understand that integrating internal and external systems is a must, and our public API can be used to pull results into any existing platform you may have so that results all live in one place.

Human Rights Due Diligence is here to stay. As legislation formalizes this new landscape, SupplyShift and our Human Rights Compliance Package are here to ensure that you are prepared no matter where you are in your human rights journey.

Contact us to learn more about our Human Rights Compliance Package and how SupplyShift can work for you!

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