Written by Gerbrand Haverkamp, Executive Director, Index Initiative
The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) published its 2018 Progress Report, which details their successes and highlights areas where improvement is needed with an honesty and transparency we admire. The World Benchmarking Alliance has looked on eagerly as the CHRB has developed the past year and we value their continued emphasis on collective and inclusive action. We are enthused to see that the information and guidance provided in the benchmark has enabled many companies to take stock; to assess and scrutinise their performance in corporate human rights. We are also encouraged by the response of the investor community to the benchmark, which has been awarded for the role it has played in centralizing ESG issues in investment processes. It has been great to be able to follow CHRB’s evolution as wereflect on the shape we want the WBA to take.
The CHRB has made a strong case for the role benchmarks can play in alleviating the presence of ethical and sustainability challenges within business, proving that transparency enables businesses to listen to and act upon information regarding the status of their human rights performance. Whilst responsiveness to the benchmark still needs time to build momentum, the dialogue surrounding it shows that already positive impact is being generated. People are listening to it, which in turn catalyses the benchmark’s credibility in the business world.
As noted in the report, CHRB represents only a single piece of the puzzle. When we think about the potential impacts benchmarks such as this one could have, we must look to the wide scope of partners and collaborators as we aspire to develop a dynamic environment for stakeholder empowerment. This momentum will only strengthen the case for companies to justify and implement improvement plans in their human rights performance.
Together with the CHRB, we as organisations are embarking on a learning journey. Benchmarking is a lengthy and complicated process, as each ranking navigates and unfolds within an already dense sustainability reporting playing-field full of many challenges. When we look at the impact of such processes, we rely on the shared ambition, collective action and the variety of professional voices to steer and leverage the successes of our benchmarks.
Aviva is one of the world’s largest insurance and asset management companies, its history tracing back more than 300 years. It has operations in 16 markets around the world, but through its investment portfolio, Aviva’s reach extends to a broader and larger group of consumers. The company is a LEAD member of the Global Compact; a founding member of both the UN Principles of Responsible Investment and the UN Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative. It is also a frontrunner in responsible investments, using its influence to support more sustainable business and ultimately a more sustainable economy and society. Aviva is an active contributor and user of different corporate sustainability benchmarks, including a founding member of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark. Aviva’s CEO Mark Wilson is a member of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) and is personally committed to driving forward the sustainable development agenda and the creation of the WBA.
The Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) aims to make a powerful business case for achieving a sustainable, inclusive economy. Its flagship report Better Business, Better World, launched in January 2017, maps the economic prize for companies that align with the SDGs, and shows how to achieve them. The report includes the creation of SDGs benchmarks as one of the key recommendations. The Business Commission aims to make a powerful business case for achieving a sustainable and inclusive economy, if the UN Sustainable Development Goals are achieved. In its flagship report, Better Business, Better World, the Commission describes how business can contribute to delivering these goals. Chaired by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, the Commission include 37 leaders from business, finance, civil society, labour, and international organisations from around the world.p>
Index Initiative is a centre of expertise in benchmarking corporate performance against stakeholder expectations. It seeks to propel the use of benchmarks to engage and bring purpose and clarity on the role of companies in contributing to the SDGs closest to their core business. A non-profit based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Index Initiative’s research and benchmarks are free and accessible to all. Index Initiative will conduct the global consultation on the World Benchmarking Alliance.
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual donors.