C6

Remediation

Overarching question

To explain the processes that apply when the reporting company has caused or contributed to a negative impact and through which it is able to help ensure that the people who were impacted receive an effective remedy.

Questions in Section 4 above relate to how the reporting company tries to ensure that potential impacts related to each salient issue do not materialize. This includes efforts to ensure that actual impacts do not continue or recur in the future. The focus is therefore on forward-looking actions by the company. Section 6 focuses on backward-looking actions to address the harm to individuals that results from actual impacts once they have occurred.

The focus here is not specifically on so-called grievance mechanisms, although those may form part of the response, and may be further described in response to the supporting questions in the remainder of this section. However, answers to this question can range more broadly across the ways in which remedy is or can be provided or supported by the company.

When individuals identify specific harms, or fears of harms, that they wish a company to address, they may be termed ‘concerns’, ‘complaints’ or ‘grievances’ or given a different name. The terms ‘concerns’ and ‘complaints’ are used here to include issues raised informally or formally (such as through a grievance mechanism) and which are of a general or specific nature.

The question focuses on impacts caused or contributed to by the reporting company. The UN Guiding Principles make clear that it is in these situations that a company has a responsibility to provide or help provide remedy to those harmed. The same responsibility does not exist where impacts are linked to the company’s operations, products or services, but without cause or contribution by the company itself. The Guiding Principles also make clear that companies may elect to contribute to remedy in other situations for other reasons. The reporting company may wish to use its responses to this question, or the relevant supporting question, to reflect any instances where that is the case.

It will be important to make clear any limitations on the types of stakeholder for whom the company will engage in a process of providing or supporting remedy, for example, whether it is limited to employees or includes other categories of stakeholder, such as contract workers, supply chain workers, local communities, end users of products or services and so forth.

Larger companies may apply the same general approach to providing remedy across the company as a whole, with more tailored applications of that approach in different operational contexts. Equally, the same approach, policy or processes may apply to any human rights harm and, therefore, be relevant to more than one salient issue. If so, the reporting company should make clear how widely its response to this question applies to different salient issues. It could use one or more examples to illustrate how a general approach is applied in practice to a particular part of its operations or value chain or to a particular salient issue.

Relevant information for the company’s answer could include:

  • The company’s general view about the provision of remedy for impacts that occur in its operations and/or through its value chain or other business relationships;
  • Any general approaches to enabling remedy that the reporting company has adopted when actual impacts have previously occurred in relation to a salient issue;
  • The approach that the company would, in principle, adopt if an impact were to occur in future in relation to a salient issue;
  • Whether and how such approaches are represented in any formal policies or processes;
  • Whether and how the company protects individuals who raise concerns about negative impacts from retaliation by company staff or third parties;
  • Any challenges encountered when seeking to enable remedy for impacts related to a salient issue (e.g., refusal by others who contributed to the impact to contribute to the remedy; local institutions too weak to support an effective process; challenges in identifying what would constitute an effective remedy).

The robustness of the reporting company’s response to this question will be improved to the extent that it is able to answer the supporting questions that follow.

UN Guiding Principle 22 provides that:

“Where business enterprises identify that they have caused or contributed to adverse impacts, they should provide for or cooperate in their remediation through legitimate processes.”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 22 states that:

“Even with the best policies and practices, a business enterprise may cause or contribute to an adverse human rights impact that it has not foreseen or been able to prevent.

Where a business enterprise identifies such a situation, whether through its human rights due diligence process or other means, its responsibility to respect human rights requires active engagement in remediation, by itself or in cooperation with other actors. Operational-level grievance mechanisms for those potentially impacted by the business enterprise’s activities can be one effective means of enabling remediation when they meet certain core criteria, as set out in Principle 31.

Where adverse impacts have occurred that the business enterprise has not caused or contributed to, but which are directly linked to its operations, products or services by a business relationship, the responsibility to respect human rights does not require that the enterprise itself provide for remediation, though it may take a role in doing so.

Some situations, in particular where crimes are alleged, typically will require cooperation with judicial mechanisms.”

These references are intended to help users identify which provisions from other initiatives would be relevant as part of the answer to this question. They are not a substitute for the guidance above.
See the cross-references to other initiatives page for a key to the initiatives referenced.
Initiative Reference point
CHRB

A. Governance and Policy Commitments: A.1.7
C. Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms: C.6, C.7
*D. Performance: Company Human Rights Practices: D.1.3, D.2.5, D.3.4.a, D.3.7.a, D.3.7.b
E. Performance: Responses to Serious Allegations: E1.3

*Section D of the CHRB refers to sector-specific key human rights risks identified by the CHRB.

DJSI

Where relevant to specific salient human rights issues identified:
Criterion: Codes of Conduct/Compliance/Corruption & Bribery
Question: Codes of Conduct: Systems/Procedures

FTSE ESG

For specific salient human rights issues identified:
Human Rights & Community Indicators: Strategy & Practice – Grievance mechanisms in place

Risk Management: Strategy & Practice – Whistle-blowing mechanism in place

GNI

Where freedom of expression and/or privacy are salient human rights issues:
Implementation Guidelines: 2. Responsible Company Decision Making – Integration into Business Operations: Complaints and Assistance

GRI

For specific salient human rights issues identified: G4-HR12

ICMM

IR

KTC

Where forced labour and human trafficking are salient human rights issues:

7.2 Remedy Programs

OECD

Where supply or use of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a salient human rights issue:
OECD-1 and OECD-3

UNGC

For specific salient human rights issues identified:
Criterion 4 and specifically:
– Processes to provide for or cooperate in the remediation of adverse human rights impacts that the company has caused or contributed to (BRE 3+ BRE 4 + ARE3 + ARE 4)

Criterion 5 and specifically:
– Grievance mechanisms that are legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, a source of continuous learning, and based on engagement and dialogue (BRE4 + ARE4)

VPSHR

Where security and human rights is a salient human rights issue:
6. Company procedure or mechanism to address security related incidents with human rights implications by public/private security forces relating to the company’s activities.

Supporting questions

To describe any formal or informal means through which the reporting company is able to hear from individuals inside and outside the company who believe the company is involved with human rights impacts related to a salient issue.

The focus of this question is on processes for receiving complaints or concerns from individuals who believe they have been harmed by the company’s activities or through its business relationships, or who believe others may have been harmed. Questions C6.2 and C6.3 relate to other aspects of the remedy processes.

Processes that can receive (and address) complaints related to the salient issue will often not focus on human rights alone, since complaints may not be presented in such terms or may only raise a human rights issue if left unaddressed and allowed to escalate. Such processes should, therefore, be broadly understood, provided the focus is on individuals, communities or groups allegedly harmed by the company’s activities or through its business relationships.

A reporting company may have specific processes in place for receiving complaints from certain groups (e.g., employees, consumers, local communities) or generalized processes through which multiple groups can raise complaints with the company. They may have complaints processes in relation to certain human rights-related issues (e.g., product safety, labour rights, data privacy), but not others. Alternatively, these processes may apply across multiple human rights issues. The reporting company should feel free to report in a cross-cutting manner where such processes apply broadly. Where they are specific to one or more salient issues or stakeholder groups, it should make that clear.

Reporting companies may have informal (ad hoc) or formalized processes for receiving complaints that relate to a salient issue. Both are relevant for responding to this question. The response should make clear the extent to which the process is formalized.

In contexts where there are stakeholder concerns about the right to freedom of association, it will be particularly relevant to highlight how the design and implementation of grievance mechanisms available to employees and other workers avoid undermining the role of legitimate trade unions, in line with the expectations set out in the Guiding Principles.

For some companies, the salient human rights issues on which they are reporting may involve impacts caused by third parties, such as suppliers or contractors, but to which the reporting company may have contributed. If so, it is relevant to report on how the company encourages, requires, supports or collaborates with those third parties to provide channels to receive (and address) complaints from the affected groups.

Relevant information for the company’s answer could include:

  • Ad hoc processes through which the company can receive complaints in relation to each salient issue (e.g., meetings, conversations);
  • Formalized processes through which the company can receive complaints in relation to each salient issue (e.g., social dialogue structures, a formal grievance mechanism, a hotline or whistle-blowing mechanism);
  • How key processes (particularly grievance mechanisms) were developed or have been revised, including any inputs from stakeholders;
  • Any limitations on who can bring complaints through a particular process;
  • Any activities to encourage, require or support effective processes among business partners, suppliers or other third parties through which potentially impacted groups can raise complaints;
  • Any changes made to the means through which the company can receive concerns or complaints in this reporting period;
  • Any changes made to the means through which the reporting company can receive concerns or complaints that are planned.

UN Guiding Principle 22 provides that:

“Where business enterprises identify that they have caused or contributed to adverse impacts, they should provide for or cooperate in their remediation through legitimate processes.”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 22 states that:

“Even with the best policies and practices, a business enterprise may cause or contribute to an adverse human rights impact that it has not foreseen or been able to prevent.

Where a business enterprise identifies such a situation, whether through its human rights due diligence process or other means, its responsibility to respect human rights requires active engagement in remediation, by itself or in cooperation with other actors. Operational-level grievance mechanisms for those potentially impacted by the business enterprise’s activities can be one effective means of enabling remediation when they meet certain core criteria, as set out in Principle 31.”

UN Guiding Principle 29 provides that:

“To make it possible for grievances to be addressed early and remediated directly, business enterprises should establish or participate in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted.”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 29 states that:

“Operational-level grievance mechanisms are accessible directly to individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted by a business enterprise. They are typically administered by enterprises, alone or in collaboration with others, including relevant stakeholders. They may also be provided through recourse to a mutually acceptable external expert or body. They do not require that those bringing a complaint first access other means of recourse. They can engage the business enterprise directly in assessing the issues and seeking remediation of any harm.

Operational-level grievance mechanisms perform two key functions regarding the responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights.

• First, they support the identification of adverse human rights impacts as a part of an enterprise’s ongoing human rights due diligence. They do so by providing a channel for those directly impacted by the enterprise’s operations to raise concerns when they believe they are being or will be adversely impacted. By analysing trends and patterns in complaints, business enterprises can also identify systemic problems and adapt their practices accordingly;

• Second, these mechanisms make it possible for grievances, once identified, to be addressed and for adverse impacts to be remediated early and directly by the business enterprise, thereby preventing harms from compounding and grievances from escalating.

Such mechanisms need not require that a complaint or grievance amount to an alleged human rights abuse before it can be raised, but specifically aim to identify any legitimate concerns of those who may be adversely impacted. If those concerns are not identified and addressed, they may over time escalate into more major disputes and human rights abuses.

Operational-level grievance mechanisms should reflect certain criteria to ensure their effectiveness in practice (Principle 31). These criteria can be met through many different forms of grievance mechanism according to the demands of scale, resource, sector, culture and other parameters.

Operational-level grievance mechanisms can be important complements to wider stakeholder engagement and collective bargaining processes, but cannot substitute for either. They should not be used to undermine the role of legitimate trade unions in addressing labour-related disputes, nor to preclude access to judicial or other non-judicial grievance mechanisms.”

These references are intended to help users identify which provisions from other initiatives would be relevant as part of the answer to this question. They are not a substitute for the guidance above.
See the cross-references to other initiatives page for a key to acronyms.
Initiative Reference point
CHRB

C. Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms: C.1, C.2, C.3

DJSI

Where relevant to specific salient human rights issues identified:
Criterion: Codes of Conduct/Compliance/Corruption & Bribery
Question: Codes of Conduct: Systems/Procedures

FTSE ESG

For specific salient human rights issues identified:
Human Rights & Community Indicators: Strategy & Practice
– Grievance mechanisms in place

Risk Management: Strategy & Practice
– Whistle-blowing mechanism in place

GNI

Where freedom of expression and/or privacy are salient human rights issues:
Implementation Guidelines: 2. Responsible Company Decision Making – Integration into Business Operations: Complaints and Assistance

Governance Charter: 8. Public Participation

GRI

For specific salient human rights issues identified:
G4-DMAb (Human Rights Grievance Mechanisms Aspect)

ICMM

IR

KTC

Where forced labour and human trafficking are salient human rights issues:

5.2 Worker Voice

5.4 Grievance Mechanism

OECD

Where supply or use of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a salient human rights issue:
OECD-1E, OECD-3C

UNGC

For specific salient human rights issues identified:
Criterion 4 and specifically:
– Operational-level grievance mechanisms for those potentially impacted by the company’s activities (BRE 4 +ARE 4)

Criterion 7 and specifically:
– Grievance mechanisms, communication channels and other procedures (e.g., whistleblower mechanisms) available for workers to report concerns, make suggestions or seek advice, designed and operated in agreement with the representative organization of workers

Criterion 21 and specifically:
– Establish channels to engage with employees and other stakeholders to hear their ideas and address their concerns, and protect ‘whistle-blowers’

VPSHR

To provide evidence that any individuals inside or outside the company are, from their own perspective, able to raise an issue directly with the company so that the company can address it.

Question C6.1 addresses the existence of channels through which individuals or groups can raise complaints in relation to a salient issue. Question C6.2 looks at the effectiveness of those channels in providing access to those who may wish to use them. This includes whether they know about the channel for raising a complaint, whether they are physically, linguistically and technologically able to access the channel, and whether they feel safe doing so.

It can be challenging to identify genuine evidence of stakeholder trust in a complaints process or grievance mechanism and, yet, the effectiveness of the process hinges on the existence of such trust, making it particularly relevant information. Feedback from the groups for whom the process or mechanism is intended can, therefore, be particularly valuable, as can assessments or reviews by independent third parties.

Relevant information for the company’s answer could include:

  • How the relevant channel(s) for raising complaints can be accessed (e.g., email, hotline, through a manager, through a trade union, through an NGO or other third party);
  • Evidence that these channels are used by the intended individuals or groups (e.g., an increase in the number of complaints raised following an incident, evidence of complaints being brought to the channel provided rather than (or before) being brought to the media or external complaints systems);
  • Evidence of confidence in the channel(s) provided (e.g., feedback from those who have used the channel(s); feedback from those who have not yet used the channel(s));
  • Any challenges in providing access to all the intended groups and how they have been or are being addressed;
  • Any assistance provided to individuals or groups to help them feel equipped to raise complaints (e.g., funding for them to receive independent legal or other expert advice; other facilitation of third-party advice; allowance for them to bring a representative to meetings);
  • Any changes made to the channel(s), based on experience and/or feedback, to increase its use;
  • Any independent review that has been undertaken of the mechanism with regard to stakeholder perceptions of, and trust in, the processes provided and outcomes achieved, and any findings that resulted.

UN Guiding Principle 31 provides that:

“In order to ensure their effectiveness, non-judicial grievance mechanisms, both State-based and non-State-based, should be:

(a) Legitimate: enabling trust from the stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended, and being accountable for the fair conduct of grievance processes;

(b) Accessible: being known to all stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended, and providing adequate assistance for those who may face particular barriers to access;

(c) Predictable: providing a clear and known procedure with an indicative time frame for each stage, and clarity on the types of process and outcome available and means of monitoring implementation;

(d) Equitable: seeking to ensure that aggrieved parties have reasonable access to sources of information, advice and expertise necessary to engage in a grievance process on fair, informed and respectful terms;

(e) Transparent: keeping parties to a grievance informed about its progress, and providing sufficient information about the mechanism’s performance to build confidence in its effectiveness and meet any public interest at stake;

(f) Rights-compatible: ensuring that outcomes and remedies accord with internationally recognized human rights; […]

(h) Based on engagement and dialogue: consulting the stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended on their design and performance, and focusing on dialogue as the means to address and resolve grievances.”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 31 states that:

“A grievance mechanism can only serve its purpose if the people it is intended to serve know about it, trust it and are able to use it. These criteria provide a benchmark for designing, revising or assessing a non-judicial grievance mechanism to help ensure that it is effective in practice. Poorly designed or implemented grievance mechanisms can risk compounding a sense of grievance amongst affected stakeholders by heightening their sense of disempowerment and disrespect by the process. […]

(a) Stakeholders for whose use a mechanism is intended must trust it if they are to choose to use it. Accountability for ensuring that the parties to a grievance process cannot interfere with its fair conduct is typically one important factor in building stakeholder trust;

(b) Barriers to access may include a lack of awareness of the mechanism, language, literacy, costs, physical location and fears of reprisal;

(c) In order for a mechanism to be trusted and used, it should provide public information about the procedure it offers. Time frames for each stage should be respected wherever possible, while allowing that flexibility may sometimes be needed;

(d) In grievances or disputes between business enterprises and affected stakeholders, the latter frequently have much less access to information and expert resources, and often lack the financial resources to pay for them. Where this imbalance is not redressed, it can reduce both the achievement and perception of a fair process and make it harder to arrive at durable solutions;

(e) Communicating regularly with parties about the progress of individual grievances can be essential to retaining confidence in the process. Providing transparency about the mechanism’s performance to wider stakeholders, through statistics, case studies or more detailed information about the handling of certain cases, can be important to demonstrate its legitimacy and retain broad trust. At the same time, confidentiality of the dialogue between parties and of individuals’ identities should be provided where necessary;

(f) Grievances are frequently not framed in terms of human rights and many do not initially raise human rights concerns. Regardless, where outcomes have implications for human rights, care should be taken to ensure that they are in line with internationally recognized human rights; […]

(h) For an operational-level grievance mechanism, engaging with affected stakeholder groups about its design and performance can help to ensure that it meets their needs, that they will use it in practice, and that there is a shared interest in ensuring its success. Since a business enterprise cannot, with legitimacy, both be the subject of complaints and unilaterally determine their outcome, these mechanisms should focus on reaching agreed solutions through dialogue. Where adjudication is needed, this should be provided by a legitimate, independent third-party mechanism.”

These references are intended to help users identify which provisions from other initiatives would be relevant as part of the answer to this question. They are not a substitute for the guidance above.
See the cross-references to other initiatives page for a key to acronyms.
Initiative Reference point
CHRB

A. Governance and Policy Commitments: A.1.6
C. Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms: C.3, C.5

DJSI

FTSE ESG

GNI

GRI

ICMM

IR

KTC

Where forced labour and human trafficking are salient human rights issues:

Theme 5.0 Worker Voice

OECD

Where supply or use of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a salient human rights issue:
OECD-2B, OECD-3C and 3D

UNGC

VPSHR

To describe what actions the reporting company takes to address a complaint related to a salient issue, and through what processes it reaches a view on the extent to which the outcomes achieved provide effective remedy for any individuals whose human rights have been harmed.

Question C6.1 addresses the existence of channels through which individuals or groups can raise complaints in relation to a salient issue. Question C6.2 looks at the effectiveness of those channels in providing access to people who may wish to use them. Question C6.3 focuses on how complaints that are received are handled in order to achieve effective and credible outcomes, including, where someone has been harmed, through the provision of remedy.

Companies may process complaints through a formal grievance mechanism, they may have more than one mechanism, depending on the issue or stakeholder group concerned (e.g., employees or community members), or they may have less formal complaints processes that they would not see as a grievance mechanism. Regardless, the focus of this question is on the steps a company takes once a complaint has been made, and on the outcomes that result.

The effectiveness of outcomes from a complaints process depends on the perspective of the person or people making the complaint(s) as well as the perspective of the company and independent third parties. It may reflect a range of factors, including:

  • whether an outcome provides or enables remedy if people have been harmed;
  • whether remedies are in line with the law and human rights standards;
  • whether an outcome addresses or resolves the concerns of the complainant(s);
  • whether the process to arrive at the outcome has credibility in the eyes of the complainant(s) and any independent observers;
  • whether the outcome itself has credibility as a reasonable and fair result in the eyes of independent observers, in particular if it is disputed by the complainant(s);
  • whether the outcome helps maintain, enhances or harms relationships between the company and complainant(s).

Relevant information for the company’s answer could include:

  • The procedures followed for processing complaints, on paper and in practice;
  • Whether and where these procedures are made publicly available, or available to those who may need to raise a complaint or concern;
  • Internal processes for addressing issues raised;
  • Whether, and if so how, complainants are kept informed of progress in the processing of their complaint;
  • Whether, and if so how, the company engages in dialogue with complainants regarding the substance of the complaint and their perspectives on the issues concerned;
  • Which position or function in the company manages and/or oversees the handling of complaints and the implementation of outcomes;
  • Any escalation pathways for addressing allegedly or potentially severe impacts or otherwise urgent complaints;
  • Whether, and if so how, outcomes from such processes (specific or generalized) are shared publicly or with those who may, in future, wish to raise a complaint;
  • Whether, and if so how, outcomes are assessed for their compatibility with human rights and/or for their effectiveness in addressing the complaint;
  • Whether, and if so how, the company assesses the level of satisfaction of those who have raised complaints with the process provided and its outcomes;
  • Any independent review or oversight of the processes provided to consider their effectiveness, and any findings from such a review.

UN Guiding Principle 22 provides that:

“Where business enterprises identify that they have caused or contributed to adverse impacts, they should provide for or cooperate in their remediation through legitimate processes.”

UN Guiding Principle 31 provides that:

“In order to ensure their effectiveness, non-judicial grievance mechanisms, both State-based and non-State-based, should be: […]

(b) Accessible: being known to all stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended, and providing adequate assistance for those who may face particular barriers to access;

(c) Predictable: providing a clear and known procedure with an indicative time frame for each stage, and clarity on the types of process and outcome available and means of monitoring implementation;

(d) Equitable: seeking to ensure that aggrieved parties have reasonable access to sources of information, advice and expertise necessary to engage in a grievance process on fair, informed and respectful terms;

(e) Transparent: keeping parties to a grievance informed about its progress, and providing sufficient information about the mechanism’s performance to build confidence in its effectiveness and meet any public interest at stake; […]

(h) Based on engagement and dialogue: consulting the stakeholder groups for whose use they are intended on their design and performance, and focusing on dialogue as the means to address and resolve grievances.”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 31 states that:

“A grievance mechanism can only serve its purpose if the people it is intended to serve know about it, trust it and are able to use it. These criteria provide a benchmark for designing, revising or assessing a non-judicial grievance mechanism to help ensure that it is effective in practice. Poorly designed or implemented grievance mechanisms can risk compounding a sense of grievance amongst affected stakeholders by heightening their sense of disempowerment and disrespect by the process. […]

(b) Barriers to access may include a lack of awareness of the mechanism, language, literacy, costs, physical location and fears of reprisal;

(c) In order for a mechanism to be trusted and used, it should provide public information about the procedure it offers. Time frames for each stage should be respected wherever possible, while allowing that flexibility may sometimes be needed;

(d) In grievances or disputes between business enterprises and affected stakeholders, the latter frequently have much less access to information and expert resources, and often lack the financial resources to pay for them. Where this imbalance is not redressed, it can reduce both the achievement and perception of a fair process and make it harder to arrive at durable solutions;

(e) Communicating regularly with parties about the progress of individual grievances can be essential to retaining confidence in the process. Providing transparency about the mechanism’s performance to wider stakeholders, through statistics, case studies or more detailed information about the handling of certain cases, can be important to demonstrate its legitimacy and retain broad trust. At the same time, confidentiality of the dialogue between parties and of individuals’ identities should be provided where necessary;[…]

(h) For an operational-level grievance mechanism, engaging with affected stakeholder groups about its design and performance can help to ensure that it meets their needs, that they will use it in practice, and that there is a shared interest in ensuring its success. Since a business enterprise cannot, with legitimacy, both be the subject of complaints and unilaterally determine their outcome, these mechanisms should focus on reaching agreed solutions through dialogue. Where adjudication is needed, this should be provided by a legitimate, independent third-party mechanism.”

These references are intended to help users identify which provisions from other initiatives would be relevant as part of the answer to this question. They are not a substitute for the guidance above.
See the cross-references to other initiatives page for a key to acronyms.
Initiative Reference point
CHRB

C. Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms: C.1, C.2, C.3, C.4, C.5

DJSI

FTSE ESG

GNI

GRI

ICMM

IR

KTC

Where forced labour and human trafficking are salient human rights issues:

5.4 Grievance Mechanism

OECD

Where supply or use of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a salient human rights issue:
OECD 1E, OECD-3C and 3D

UNGC

VPSHR

To describe the insights the reporting company has gained from the complaints or concerns raised and the outcomes reached, as they relate to each salient issue, and to convey whether and how these insights have informed any changes to the company’s own policies, processes or practices.

There may be some legitimate limitations on a company’s ability to disclose publicly the outcomes of specific complaints processes, for example, to avoid exposing complainants to pressure or retribution. In such circumstances, it may be more feasible to report on trends and patterns. This question provides the reporting company with that possibility.

Trends and patterns in relation to complaints and their outcomes will be particularly relevant to the company’s efforts to assess human rights risks and to track how well they are being addressed in practice. As such, the company might wish to report on this information in connection with its answer to question C5.

Lessons learned based on these trends and patterns may relate to the substance of issues raised or to the effectiveness of the process for addressing the complaints. Both kinds of lessons will be relevant information to report.

Where the company reports numerical indicators, such as the number of complaints received, it should support this with explanatory information to enable the interpretation of that data. For instance, a reduction in the number of complaints may reflect a reduction in concerns among stakeholders. This might be confirmed by responses to a survey that express satisfaction with changes made by the company.

Alternatively, a reduction in the number of complaints may reflect a loss of confidence among potential complainants in the complaints channels provided by the company. This might be confirmed by an increase in allegations raised through the media or external grievance mechanisms. Therefore, explanatory information is critical to enable a balanced understanding of the data.

Relevant information for the company’s answer could include:

  • Trends and patterns in the numbers, types or location of complaints received in relation to each salient issue;
  • Trends and patterns in the numbers, types or location of complaints resolved in relation to each salient issue;
  • Trends and patterns in expressions of satisfaction with how complaints related to a salient issue are addressed among those bringing complaints or their legitimate representatives;
  • Any changes made to the company’s policies or processes based on learning from these trends and patterns (e.g., a change to a policy, training for certain employees, additional attention given to the performance of suppliers);
  • Any changes to the process for receiving and addressing complaints based on learning from these trends and patterns.

UN Guiding Principle 31 provides that:

“In order to ensure their effectiveness, non-judicial grievance mechanisms, both State-based and non-State-based, should be: […]

(g) A source of continuous learning: drawing on relevant measures to identify lessons for improving the mechanism and preventing future grievances and harms […]”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 31 states that:

“A grievance mechanism can only serve its purpose if the people it is intended to serve know about it, trust it and are able to use it. These criteria provide a benchmark for designing, revising or assessing a non-judicial grievance mechanism to help ensure that it is effective in practice. Poorly designed or implemented grievance mechanisms can risk compounding a sense of grievance amongst affected stakeholders by heightening their sense of disempowerment and disrespect by the process. […]

(g) Regular analysis of the frequency, patterns and causes of grievance can enable the institution ad- ministering the mechanism to identify and influence policies, procedures or practices that should be altered to prevent harm; […]”

These references are intended to help users identify which provisions from other initiatives would be relevant as part of the answer to this question. They are not a substitute for the guidance above.
See the cross-references to other initiatives page for a key to acronyms.
Initiative Reference point
CHRB

C. Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms: C.7

DJSI

Where relevant to specific salient human rights issues identified:
Criterion: Codes of Conduct/Compliance/Corruption & Bribery
Question: Codes of Conduct/Corruption & Bribery: Reporting on breaches

FTSE ESG

GNI

GRI

For specific salient human rights issues identified: G4-SO11

ICMM

IR

KTC

Where forced labour and human trafficking are salient human rights issues:

5.4 Grievance Mechanism

OECD

Where supply or use of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a salient human rights issue: OECD-3C

UNGC

VPSHR

To describe the forms of remedy provided by the company in relation to the salient issues, whether in specific individual cases or in aggregate across similar types of case.

Specific examples of remedy from within the reporting can help the reader understand more clearly the role that a process for providing remedy or a grievance mechanism has played in practice, and how it has supported the company’s efforts to meet its responsibility to respect human rights. Examples should focus on the salient issues and may either relate to individual outcomes or representative outcomes across a number of similar complaints. In either instance, the reporting company should ensure it provides a balanced picture of outcomes, or explain any factors that may make them situation-specific.

In exceptional circumstances, it may not be possible for a company to disclose certain information that would be necessary to respond accurately to this question. In such cases, the company should indicate the nature of the information it has omitted and explain its reasons for the omission: for example, risk to the human rights of stakeholders, specific and legitimate legal prohibitions or confidentiality constraints, or the unavailability of reliable information. Where the company is prevented from disclosing information in specific or explicit form, it should, wherever possible, provide it in aggregated or anonymized form in order to avoid significant gaps in its disclosure.

Relevant information for the company’s answer could include:

  • Specific remedies provided in specific cases (e.g., compensation, replacement housing for communities, apologies for harms caused, reinstatement in a job, contribution to communities’ livelihoods, agreement on joint monitoring of a situation);
  • Types of remedy provided in relation to certain types of complaint (e.g., compensation for crops destroyed across multiple individuals or communities, agreement to provide improved living quarters for workers);
  • Additional information that helps explain certain outcomes;
  • Information on the reactions of those raising the complaints to the outcomes.

UN Guiding Principle 21 provides that:

“In order to account for how they address their human rights impacts, business enterprises should be prepared to communicate this externally, particularly when concerns are raised by or on behalf of affected stakeholders. Business enterprises whose operations or operating contexts pose risks of severe human rights impacts should report formally on how they address them. In all instances, communications should: […]

(b) Provide information that is sufficient to evaluate the adequacy of an enterprise’s response to the particular human rights impact involved;

(c) In turn not pose risks to affected stakeholders, personnel or to legitimate requirements of commercial confidentiality.”

UN Guiding Principle 31 provides that:

“In order to ensure their effectiveness, non-judicial grievance mechanisms, both State-based and non– State-based, should be: […]

(e) Transparent: keeping parties to a grievance informed about its progress, and providing sufficient information about the mechanism’s performance to build confidence in its effectiveness and meet any public interest at stake;

(f) Rights-compatible: ensuring that outcomes and remedies accord with internationally recognized human rights;”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 31 states that:

“A grievance mechanism can only serve its purpose if the people it is intended to serve know about it, trust it and are able to use it. These criteria provide a benchmark for designing, revising or assessing a non-judicial grievance mechanism to help ensure that it is effective in practice. Poorly designed or implemented grievance mechanisms can risk compounding a sense of grievance amongst affected stakeholders by heightening their sense of disempowerment and disrespect by the process. […]

(e) Communicating regularly with parties about the progress of individual grievances can be essential to retaining confidence in the process. Providing transparency about the mechanism’s performance to wider stakeholders, through statistics, case studies or more detailed information about the handling of certain cases, can be important to demonstrate its legitimacy and retain broad trust. At the same time, confidentiality of the dialogue between parties and of individuals’ identities should be provided where necessary;

(f) Grievances are frequently not framed in terms of human rights and many do not initially raise human rights concerns. Regardless, where outcomes have implications for human rights, care should be taken to ensure that they are in line with internationally recognized human rights; […]”

These references are intended to help users identify which provisions from other initiatives would be relevant as part of the answer to this question. They are not a substitute for the guidance above.
See the cross-references to other initiatives page for a key to acronyms.
Initiative Reference point
CHRB

C. Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms: C.7
*D. Performance: Company Human Rights Practices: D.1.3, D.3.4.a, D.3.7.a
E. Performance: Responses to Serious Allegations: E1.3

*Section D of the CHRB refers to sector-specific key human rights risks identified by the CHRB.

DJSI

Where relevant to specific salient human rights issues identified:
Criterion: Codes of Conduct/Compliance/Corruption & Bribery
Question: Codes of Conduct/Corruption & Bribery: Reporting on breaches

FTSE ESG

GNI

GRI

For specific salient human rights issues identified: G4-HR3 (B)

ICMM

IR

KTC

Where forced labour and human trafficking are salient human rights issues:

7.2 Remedy Programs

OECD

UNGC

For specific salient human rights issues identified:
Criterion 5 and specifically:
– Outcomes of remediation processes of adverse human rights impacts

VPSHR