ICC Document & publication

Report of pilot business survey on implementation of the corporate responsibility to respect Human Rights

This pilot was developed and disseminated in cooperation with the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organisation of Employers and the Corporations and Human Rights Project at the University of Denver.

The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights created a pilot survey to assess the views of business representatives regarding their company’s implementation of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. This pilot was developed and disseminated in cooperation with the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organisation of Employers and the Corporations and Human Rights Project at the University of Denver.

It is the intention that lessons learnt from this process will feed into a corporate survey on business and human rights in 2013, the results of which will be published at the Forum on Business and Human Rights, and potentially on an annual basis thereafter. Our vision is to gather a solid baseline of credible and complete data that can support the United Nations and other actors as they progress their work to disseminate, implement and embed the UN Guiding Principles globally.

This effort was inspired by the survey of Fortune 500 Global Firms carried out by the former UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, in 2006/7. The report of the 2007 survey was submitted to the fourth session of the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/4/35/Add). The Fortune 500 survey addressed some of the items covered in this survey enabling some level of comparison of results (for example, in relation to human rights policies and reference to international standards within them). However, it is important to note that the context and purpose of this current survey is different. This survey benefits from the existence of the UN Guiding Principles (GPs), allowing many of the questions to be anchored in the concepts, intent and wording of the GPs. Beyond general, mapping of the content of corporate policies and high-level statements of practice, the challenge/opportunity now is to develop a nuanced understanding of uptake, enablers, challenges and innovations regarding implementation of corporate respect for human rights (with the GPs as the authorative reference point).

Please note that this report does not present the full set of information generated by the pilot survey. Instead, the project team has presented results that they deemed of interest. Respondents were asked to give a personal opinion of their company’s awareness, commitment, practices and challenges. The project team has not tried to verify the answers. Because the survey was a pilot – undertaken over a short period of time between October and December 2012 – the results do not purport to represent all global business.

This survey complements a parallel pilot effort focused on government action regarding the State Duty to Protect pillar of the UN Framework and Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The UN Working Group is currently considering how to report on the pilot surveys in their June 2013 report to the UN Human Rights Council. Proposals tabled in June 2013 will include an outline of plans, modalities and objectives for follow-up surveys in the lead up to the second Annual Forum (late 2013).