New report Exposes Gaps in Corporate Human Rights Performance in Ag, Apparel and Extractives Sectors

Mar 13th 2017

Launch of Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) is welcomed by investment community as a valuable engagement tool to help advance progress on corporate human rights programs.

NEW YORK, NY – MONDAY, MARCH 13TH, 2017 – Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility engaging companies on their human rights impacts welcome today’s launch of a new tool they are hoping will help foster a race to the top in corporate human rights performance.

The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, the first ever benchmarking of companies on human rights indicators, analyzes an initial 98 companies in the high risk agriculture, apparel and extractives sectors and ranks them across 100 performance indicators  and six measurement themes based on international and industry-specific standards on human rights and responsible business conduct. The CHRB is supported by 85 institutional investors representing $5.3 trillion in assets under management.

The initial report available online, showed a small cluster of seven companies - BHP Billiton, Marks & Spencer Group, Rio Tinto, Nestle, Adidas and Unilever - out-performing their peers with scores between 55 – 69% out of 100%, yet the vast majority of companies were revealed to be significantly underperforming at 30%.

“The detailed scoring from the CHRB on each indicator will enable us as shareholder advocates to analyze and compare company information and identify exactly where challenges lie in respect and protection of human rights and where additional investor engagement is needed. The findings of the benchmark are consistent with our experience that while some companies have adopted policies, most companies are seriously lagging in implementation of human rights policies in order to improve performance and reduce human rights violations connected to their operations,”  said Mary Beth Gallagher, Executive Director, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.

Said David Schilling who directs the human rights program at ICCR, “We applaud the CHRB for today’s launch of its findings in three sectors where corporate human rights risks are systemic. Whether it is life-threatening safety issues in apparel factories in Bangladesh, community health crises in the mining sector in Peru or migrant workers who pay large recruitment fees to obtain employment in U.S. agriculture, companies have the responsibility to respect human rights and address abuses when they occur.  The CHRB ratings will sharpen investor engagements of companies in their portfolios and hopefully lead to improved performance which is good for workers and companies alike.”

Investors are encouraged to use the CHRB report in engagements with corporations on human rights risks. The list of companies assessed will grow year-on-year to ultimately cover the world’s 500 listed enterprises.

“It is imperative that low performing companies identified by CHRB assess their human rights risks, develop effective approaches to address them, and disclose findings to stakeholders,” said Julie Tanner, Director of Catholic Investing for Christian Brothers Investment Services. This information will help investors better understand how companies manage risks within their operations and supply chains, and address adverse human rights impacts with which they may be involved. As investors, we know that human rights conflicts have the potential to damage a company’s reputation, impact consumer confidence and increase legislative and legal risks. To keep up with the pack, companies will need to demonstrate they have taken proactive steps to engage communities, protect workers and respect the environment in order to drive positive performance.”

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 46th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300 member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $200 billion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability on questions such as climate change, corporate water stewardship, sustainable food production, human trafficking and slavery in global supply chains and increased access to financial and health care services for communities in need.

Susana McDermott, Director of Communications, ICCR