Third party research using our Corporate Human Rights Benchmark Methodology

Learn how our Corporate Human Rights Benchmark Methodology is being used by various stakeholders in several countries to get a ‘snapshot’ overview of companies’ performances on human rights.

Given that our mission is to help incentivise the private sector to align its business with societal interests, just like our benchmark results and data, the methodologies that the World Benchmarking Alliance uses to assess companies are also publicly available and free. This means that stakeholders such as governments, academic institutions and civil society organisations can use our methodologies to assess companies beyond our scope; far beyond the 2,000 companies we have set out to assess in our annual or biannual benchmark iterations. Acting together helps to achieve an impact far greater than what we could on our own.

Our human rights benchmark

The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) is a great example of how our methodologies are already being used by others. Founded in 2013, the CHRB assesses companies on their human rights performance. The organisation became a part of the World Benchmarking Alliance in 2019, and is our longest standing benchmark.

In 2018, the CHRB developed a subset of the full Corporate Human Rights Benchmark methodology, known as the ‘CHRB Core UNGP Indicator Assessment’. Unlike the full CHRB methodology, which is in-depth and time-consuming to apply, the Core UNGP indicators allow parties to take a quick ‘snapshot’ of a company’s approach to human rights management, and whether they are implementing key expectations of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) – making a policy commitment to respect human rights, conducting human rights due diligence, and enabling access to remedy.

Since 2017, various stakeholders in several countries have used the CHRB indicators to take snapshots of companies’ performances on human rights. They’re listed below.

Australia

In October 2017, the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and the Centre for Australian Ethical Research (CAER) conducted a snapshot of Australian companies’ responses to human rights risks. Their report was based on a set of our indicators that were similar to the Core UNGP Indicators. (The Core UNGP Indicators hadn’t been developed yet).

ACCR and CAER’s aim was to deepen investors’ understanding of human rights issues for Australian companies, and increase their appetite for positive stewardship through results-driven engagements with companies on human rights.

The report assessed 23 Australian Stock Exchange listed companies on their management of human rights related risks in their activities and business relationships. The companies were from the agricultural, extractives and medical supplies sectors. The report demonstrated, with a few exceptions, a low level of understanding of human rights risks and engagement with leading practices on risk management across the companies surveyed.

See report

Ireland

In 2019, the University of Dublin (Trinity Business School – Centre for Social Innovation) conducted a pilot assessment using our Core UNGP methodology, which they repeated in 2020. Because of its political footprint, as well as its role as a supportive base for many multinationals, Ireland presents an important context in which to examine business and human rights (BHR).

The reports analysed public information from the top 50 publicly listed firms operating in Ireland (20 of whom are domiciled in Ireland, alongside 30 multinational employers) and also included a standalone analysis of the ten largest state owned enterprises. The aim was to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the state of corporate adherence to the UNGPs in Ireland. It found that business certainly had room for improvement, with human rights due diligence a key area of weakness. The report made several recommendations, including policy and legislative options for the Irish government to consider.

See report

Since 2017, various stakeholders in several countries have used the CHRB indicators to take snapshots of companies’ performances on human rights.

Denmark

In September 2020, the Danish Institute for Human Rights used the Core UNGP indicators to provide an analysis of the human rights policies and due diligence practices of the 20 largest companies in Denmark. The companies operate in a variety of different sectors and all have global operations, value and supply chains.

The purpose of the snapshot was to contribute to the ongoing debate on how businesses can scale up respect for human rights. A key aspect of these conversations relates to the proposed introduction of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation at the European Union level, as well as the international binding treaty negotiation process at the UN level. An overall finding was that company performance was weakest across the human rights due diligence indicators when compared to the area of policy commitments.

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Germany

In November 2019, the ZHAW School of Management and Law & the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre published a study based on our UNGP Core Indicators, examining how the 20 largest German companies by turnover report and communicate to the public regarding their responsibilities to respect human rights. It found that none of the companies achieved at least one point on every indicator – showing that none of Germany’s largest companies could demonstrate that they meet the fundamental expectations of the UNGPs.

These findings foreshadowed the results of the German National Action Plan (NAP) monitoring, where the government committed to introducing legislation to regulate corporate due diligence in supply chains if less than 50% of companies with 500+ employees did not meet the voluntary NAP requirements by 2020. Based on the poor results of the NAP monitoring, in 2021 the German Parliament passed the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, requiring large companies to regularly and systematically identify and address human rights and environmental risks in their supply chains.

See report

Acting together helps to achieve an impact far greater than what we could on our own.

Belgium

In April 2021, the Belgian Federal Institute for Sustainable Development (FIDO/IFDD) published a National Baseline Assessment (NBA) on Business and Human Rights in Belgium. The report is a stocktake of the progress made by Belgium authorities and companies since the launch of Belgium’s first National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights back in 2017. The research for the baseline assessment was conducted by HIVA-KU Leuven, and the Law and Development Research Group (University of Antwerp).

The report includes a screening of thirty Belgian companies using our Core UNGP Indicator Assessment. For six of the thirty companies, particular attention was paid to how they deal with their responsibilities in conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRAs). The report found that while a growing number of companies are formally committed to respecting human rights, none of the companies assessed had translated those commitments into effective human rights due diligence processes and few that are sourcing from CAHRAs have specific policies on how to deal with human rights risks in these areas.

See report

Finland

In 2020, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a call for proposals to assess how Finnish companies were fulfilling their human rights responsibilities as outlined by the UNGPs. Information produced by the assessment would support the implementation of elements of the Government’s Programme related to corporate social responsibility. The outcome was a 2021 report, the ‘Status of Human Rights Performance of Finnish Companies’.

The project assessed 78 Finnish companies from the TE500 list – a list of the 500 companies with the largest revenue in Finland – 29 companies using CHRB’s full methodology, and 49 companies were assessed using the Core UNGP Indicators. It found that although Finnish companies are, at least on a general level, quite widely committed to respecting human rights, the practical integration of human rights responsibility and related monitoring into the core activities of companies, is still largely at an early stage.

The report also noted that “the Core UNGP Indicators developed by CHRB would be well suited for regular monitoring of the human rights performance of Finnish companies, as the indicators can be widely used to assess companies of different sizes and from different industries and they focus on the key aspects of the UN Guiding Principles.”

See report

Spain

In 2021, non-profit organisation Ecología y Desarrollo (ECODES) conducted a study to determine the level of integration of business and human rights international frameworks among Spain’s largest publically traded companies, in line with the upcoming European Directive on Due diligence on Environment and Human Rights.

The study used our Core UNGP Indicators to assess companies included in the 2002 IBEX35 index – a corporate benchmark index of the Spanish market, which is considered to be representative of the most relevant sectors and includes a combination of companies that are either transnational or have a significant presence in Spain.

The result is a snapshot of the current status of Spain’s leading companies in relation to their due diligence activities, and a first analysis of companies’ reporting behavior in relation to internationally recognised frameworks in the field of human rights. The study is currently available in Spanish; an English version will be published later in the year.

See report in Spanish

Interested in this work or conducting a snapshot of companies’ human rights management using our Core UNGP Indicators?

Contact Angus Sargent, Engagement Manager at a.sargent@worldbenchmarkingalliance.org

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