In today’s ever more transparent world, companies are under increasing pressure to show that they respect human rights throughout their operations and value chains. That means demonstrating that they are not harming the fundamental dignity and welfare of people as they go about their legitimate work and generate the jobs, wealth and growth that benefit all societies.
The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework is the first comprehensive guidance for companies to report on human rights issues in line with their responsibility to respect human rights. This responsibility is set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which are the authoritative global standard in this field.
The Reporting Framework provides a concise set of questions to which any company should strive to have answers in order to know and show that it is meeting its responsibility to respect human rights in practice. It offers companies clear and straightforward guidance on how to answer these questions with relevant and meaningful information about their human rights policies, processes and performance.
Companies’ answers to the questions in the Framework would ideally be included in a broader annual report, including where this is an integrated report. They may also appear in a sustainability or corporate responsibility report, or they may be used as the basis for a stand-alone human rights report. Learn more about how companies can use the Reporting Framework on our FAQ page.
Increasing demand for human rights reporting
There is fast-increasing demand for greater formal reporting by companies on their human rights performance. This comes from a range of sources:
- Regulators requiring companies (large, listed, State-owned or other) to report on their human rights performance in their annual or sustainability reports;
- Investors demanding greater transparency in this area of a company’s performance, in line with socially responsible investment strategies and evidence that companies that pose risks to human rights also risk their own success — see more about investor support for the UNGP Reporting Framework;
- Stock exchanges seeking information on companies’ sustainability performance, including with regard to human rights;
- Government agencies requiring evidence that companies have identified and managed risks to human rights before granting export credit or procurement contracts;
- International finance institutions making similar demands of companies seeking various forms of financing;
- Business customers and clients seeking clarity that the companies supplying them with goods and services do not expose them to human rights-related risks;
- Consumers increasingly using information on how companies address human rights impacts to inform their purchasing decisions;
- Employees and potential employees looking for evidence that their corporate employers reflect their values and conduct business in a manner of which they can be proud;
- Companies’ other stakeholders, including impacted communities and workers, as well as trade unions and NGOs, seeking improved disclosure as a condition for granting companies a social licence to operate. Without this licence, companies may face serious reputational harm, lost business opportunities, operational disruptions and even litigation.
The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework enables companies to respond to this growing array of requirements and expectations for improved reporting on human rights. It can also help companies meet their own commitment to continuous improvement in this area of their performance.