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Once you have identified the main areas of human rights impacts for your business and gaps in your systems to manage them, it might seem like a huge task to fill them and you might feel unsure how to move forward. In the previous steps you will surely have identified some quick wins, e.g. where you can easily integrate a missing element in a policy or a training package for relevant staff. For other issues you might feel that you still don’t have enough information to know if the potential impacts you have identified are really well prevented or mitigated in practice.
In light of limited resources, your company will need to prioritise next steps and identify key areas where a deeper assessment of your actual impacts and the performance
of your management processes in practice will need to take place. This step outlines some approaches and options for doing so. This should enable you to draft a company-specific human rights roadmap determining short and long term goals, an initial timeline and who is responsible for overseeing and implementing the measures required to achieve your objectives.
Following a human rights approach, all your impacts need to be properly addressed. When deciding where to start you will need to base your prioritisation on where there is greater risk of having the most severe human rights impacts – your salient human rights impacts. This relates to:
For further information on how to prioritise your human rights issues according to their saliency:
Of course, in practice, the likelihood of having a negative impact will also influence your prioritisation. It will be higher in a country with a weak record on human rights, or a supply chain where much manual, low-skilled labour is involved, or where you deal with business partners known to have poor performance or limited capacity. Other considerations that might guide where to focus your efforts are how much leverage you have to change the practices of your suppliers, or other business partners, and how engaged and willing your colleagues in a certain business area are to review and improve their practices.
Therefore, for different companies different starting points will be useful to determine what to focus on next, and where to engage in deeper analysis. A tourism operator active in the global South may want to focus its attention on two or three higher-risk countries it organises travel to. An IT provider with a range of products with possible privacy concerns, will focus on the product lines with the highest associated risks for negative impact first.
A similar approach can be used for the prioritisation of suppliers, products, services or countries of operations, etc. – depending on what is relevant for your business. A financial services provider, for example, might want to start with prioritising business relationships accordingly. Based on your prioritisation and definition of next steps, you will need to document your plan in an accessible format helping you and your colleagues to move forward. The sort of actions likely to arise from your gap assessment and prioritisation will involve:
Throughout this process and in preparation of the next steps, it may help you to reach out to industry associations, sector initiatives, multi-stakeholder initiatives or other relevant networks. Check for relevant dialogue opportunities or events to exchange with other companies or competitors on best practices and implementation challenges.
For a general overview of existing corporate human rights policies, take a look at the policy database of the Business and HumanRights Resource Centre
One fine body…