São Paulo and Lisbon, 25 June 2019 – In the newest CEO Guide of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), dozens of business executives from across the world call for urgent business leadership on respect for human rights.
The CEO Guide to Human Rights brings to life the business drivers for action and the tangible steps CEOs can take to ensure their companies go beyond compliance and drive transformative change in people’s lives.
BCSD Portugal and BCSD Brazil (CEBDS), both longstanding Global Network partners of WBCSD, today launched an edition of the CEO Guide in Portuguese. This edition complements the original call for business leadership with a local perspective and call to action endorsed by a total of 14 CEOs of Brazilian and Portuguese businesses as well as subsidiaries of multinational companies. These are:
- Vasco de Mello, Chairman & CEO, Brisa
- Antonio Mexia, CEO, EDP
- Andrea Alvares, Chief Marketing, Innovation & Sustainability Officer, Natura
- Claudia Azevedo, CEO, Sonae
- João Castello Branco, CEO, The Navigator Company
- Marcelo S. Castelli, Global CEO, Votorantim Cimentos.
- Paulo Fernandes, President of the Board, Altri
- Wilfred Bruijn, CEO, Anglo American Brazil
- Sandra Santos, CEO, BA
- Angelo Ramalho, President & CEO, efacec
- Henrique Leite, Director General, Eurest Portugal
- Manuel Chinchilla, President, Philip Morris Brazil
- Marcos Matias, President, Schneider Electric Brazil
- Jorge Mário Silva, CEO, Tintex
Collectively, top executives across over three dozen member companies of WBCSD, BCSD Portugal and CEBDS are sending clear messages to raise the bar on human rights performance, embed human rights in corporate culture, set clear expectations of suppliers and business partners and drive meaningful engagement and collaborations with peers, governments as well as civil society.
The CEO Guide highlights four drivers for action beyond compliance that make a compelling business case for any corporate leader:
- Regulation is making expectations enforceable;
- Public interest is high;
- Business relationships are in the spotlight; and
- Investor expectations are rising.
CEO leadership plays a crucial role in ensuring that human rights are taken seriously across their own companies and business relationships. To support this, the CEO Guide highlights actions that executives can take to advance respect for human rights:
- Know the most important human rights for your company;
- Lead from the top;
- Engage transparently with stakeholders;
- Collaborate beyond your comfort zone.
BCSD Portugal Secretary General João Meneses said: “The investment in the social and human dimensions and the mitigation of the negative social impacts are undeniably key factors towards the improvement of business conditions and the achievement of the different Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda. We are certain that business practice sharing initiatives are key in supporting leaders in the identification of opportunities and critical actions that need to be taken regarding human rights.”
CEBDS President Marina Grossi: "The Guide is intended to inspire senior leadership to overcome basic premises about human rights. The document is intended to advocate that social aspects get prioritized by companies in decision-making at all levels, starting with the CEOs."
For her part, Kitrhona Cerri, Director of Social Impact at WBCSD said: “While the debate on corporate respect for human rights has gained tremendous prominence since the launch of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in 2011, we observed that CEO leadership on this topic was limited, and we believe the time has come to elevate the debate to the C-suite and encourage CEO action beyond a few leading companies.”
Drawing on this realization, the CEO Guide is the result of collaborative efforts between WBCSD and executives from WBCSD member companies, as well as expert input and review from our partners at Shift, the leading center of expertise on the UNGPs.