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 we reflect 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.