Human Rights Guidance Tool for the Financial Sector
Key Issues and Questions

Human Rights and Business: Basic Questions

Below are some questions which will provide an initial indication of a company's awareness of human rights.

Does the company have a written human rights policy?

There may be a specific human rights policy or position statement, or human rights may be covered in a number of other policies (for example, a code of conduct, sustainability/corporate social responsibility policy, sector-specific policy, and policies relating to recruitment, employment, health and safety or community relations).

Is the human rights policy fully implemented? Is it integrated into core business processes?

The company may be able to provide evidence of how it has operational processes in place that ensure the policy is implemented, trains people in it, monitors and communicates the implementation of the policy. Some companies use the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework to report on human rights as part of their reporting on environmental, social and governance issues. An indication of good practice would be a defined process to identify and manage material human rights impacts, and communicate good practice effectively.

Does the company have a human rights due diligence system in place?

Ideally a human rights due diligence system will be integrated into core internal functions and processes. The system should outline how the company identifies, prevents or mitigates and accounts for adverse human rights impacts. A due diligence process may not be in the public domain, so a discussion with the client may be needed to find about their system. See Risk Management for more on due diligence.

Does the company make any public commitment to human rights?

The company's web site, annual report or CSR/sustainability report may endorse the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The company may participate in the UN Global Compact or another international initiative which includes human rights commitments. The company may acknowledge the UN Framework and Guiding Principles.

Does the company encounter significant human rights issues in its business activities?

Some companies are associated with high profile human rights issues or risks in their own business or supply chain (eg: working conditions, child labour, operating in regions with poor human rights records, operating in areas which are more sensitive in terms of health and environment). In such cases, carrying out a human rights impact assessment may be appropriate.


December 2014     United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative