Geneva, 18 November 2020: The Guide was produced in collaboration with the Council’s Global Network partner in Switzerland (öbu), and supported by partners respACT (Austria) and econsense (Germany).
The Guide sends a clear message on the need to elevate the ambition concerning human rights, the relevance of adopting standards which foster the respect for those rights and the importance to establish clear expectations for suppliers and partners, boosting the relationship and the collaboration between peers, governments and civil society.
CEO leadership plays a crucial role in ensuring that human rights are taken seriously across companies and business relationships. The Guide highlights four drivers for action beyond compliance that make a compelling business case for any corporate leader: regulation, public interest, business relationships, and investor expectations.
Furthermore, the Guide highlights four specific 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; and Collaborate beyond your comfort zone.
The CEO Guide embeds a foreword with a Call to Action endorsed by 56 forward-thinking top executives of WBCSD member companies. They urge their peers across the business community 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 signatories of the Call to Action represent companies headquartered in 23 countries, with over 4.3 million direct employees, and extensive value chains across the world.
David Weiss, Project Lead, Sustainable Supply Chains at öbu, commented: “These are important times for business and human rights, especially in Switzerland. This guide is a valuable contribution that shows how business can operate in tune with human rights requirements and the number of important endorsements provide ample evidence that the business community can and is indeed listening.”
According to Nadine-Lan Hönighaus, Executive Director of econsense: “The CEO Guide to Human Rights is a valuable tool to foster a better understanding for executives on how companies can contribute to and have a positive impact on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. We are glad to support the release of its German version which can further spread this important message.”
Daniela Knieling, Director of respACT – Austrian Business Council for Sustainable Development, commented: “In Austria we are recognizing that companies are re-thinking their way of approaching responsible business, driven by the COVID-19-crisis and inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals. Our world urgently needs companies and corporate leaders strengthening human rights in the business context. 70 years after the European Convention on Human Rights was signed, any threat to human rights defenders or civil society organizations is also a threat to business. I support the CEO Guide highlighting actions that executives can take to advance respect for human rights.”
For his part, Filippo Veglio, Managing Director at WBCSD, emphasized: “Realizing universal human rights for all is one of the most powerful opportunities businesses have to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. The Guide provides business leaders in Austria, Germany and Switzerland with a blueprint for action to drive positive changes in people‘s lives across their companies and business relationships.”
The CEO Guide is available in numerous languages, with a number of the translations featuring a local Call to Action endorsed by a total of 130 top executives across the world, showcasing the importance of leadership at both global and national levels.
- The CEO Guide to Human Rights can be downloaded here in German, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and other languages
- Business and human rights: WBCSD determined to continue raising the bar
- Davide Fiedler – Manager, Social Impact, WBCSD