The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state: “As the basis for embedding their responsibility to respect human rights, business enterprises should express their commitment to meet this responsibility through a statement of policy”. The policy should:
- Be approved at the most senior level of the business enterprise
- Be informed by relevant internal and/or external expertise
- Stipulate the enterprise’s human rights expectations of personnel, business partners and other parties directly linked to its operations, products or services
- Be publicly available and communicated internally and externally to all personnel, business partners and other relevant parties
- Be reflected in operational policies and procedures necessary to embed it throughout the business enterprise
Many businesses already have commitments related to certain human rights topics, including:
- Occupational health and safety
- Environmental management and protection
- Labour rights and unions
- Forced labour and modern slavery
- Engagement with affected communities
Policies should be approved and endorsed by the highest levels of management within a company. It is also important to ensure that adequate time, training, and resources are allocated so that human rights policies are implemented both in management and on the ground. Middle management is particularly important for ensuring human rights policies are implemented in practice.
Benchmarks such as Know the Chain and the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark evaluate companies based on the content and quality of their human rights policies.