Shift, February 2016
What are salient human rights issues?
Something that is salient is prominent or important. It stands out conspicuously.
Salient human rights issues: The human rights at risk of the most severe negative impact through the company’s activities and business relationships.
A company’s salient human rights issues are those human rights that stand out because they are at risk of the most severe negative impact through the company’s activities or business relationships.
This concept of salience uses the lens of risk to people, not the business, as the starting point, while recognizing that where risks to people’s human rights are greatest, there is strong convergence with risk to the business.
The emphasis of salience lies on those impacts that are:
- Most severe: based on how grave and how widespread the impact would be and how hard it would be to put right the resulting harm.
- Potential: meaning those impacts that have some likelihood of occurring in the future, recognizing that these are often, though not limited to, those impacts that have occurred in the past;
- Negative: placing the focus on the avoidance of harm to human rights rather than unrelated initiatives to support or promote human rights;
- Impacts on human rights: placing the focus on risk to people, rather than on risk to the business.
Salience therefore focuses the company’s resources on finding information that is necessary for its own ability to manage risks to human rights, and related risks to the business. In this way, it helps companies report on the human rights information that shareholders, investors, governments, customers, consumers, media, civil society organizations and directly affected people want to see.