WBA’s Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) examines the human rights policies, processes and practices of the most influential companies in high-risk sectors. US-based multinational company, General Motors, managed to almost double its score in the 2022 CHRB following the recommendations we provided in the 2020 benchmark. These included strengthening its ethical sourcing programme, grievance and monitoring processes and supplier code of conduct.
During a webinar exploring the 2022 CHRB findings, sustainability representatives from General Motors explained how the CHRB helped the company solidify its human rights responsibility structures and gain greater management visibility on human rights issues. “GM has long championed human rights issues, but there’s been a broad recognition across the company that there were opportunities to do more, and to further align with global standards, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We’ve been working with legal teams, human resources, supply chains and labour relations to build the business case for greater transparency, and the CHRB played a pivotal role in helping articulate the business case for this.”
The benchmark helped General Motors further develop the company’s ethical sourcing programme and identify the necessary elements of a more robust supplier code, which included incorporating a broader range of stakeholder feedback in the code’s development. The CHRB also helped the company solidify and improve responsibility structures for day-to-day human rights programme management, including grievance and monitoring processes.
General Motors cited the granularity of the benchmark as being particularly helpful – breaking down performance by indicators, explaining why an indicator was not met and providing details on what and how the company can improve:
The Corporate Human Right Benchmark helped us learn where we are in terms of programme maturity and effectiveness. General Motors improves its practices following recommendations from our Corporate Human Rights Benchmark. It helps us scrutinise our policies, processes and practices – how to get the right stakeholders at the table to break down the silos, include the right voices and build leverage for positive impact.
This story is an excerpt from our 2022 Annual Report. Since being included in the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, 66% of food and agriculture companies, 65% of ICT companies and 57% of automotive companies have improved their scores on key human rights indicators, despite changes to the methodology that have raised the bar in terms of requirement.