Determination of Salient Issues

To enable the reader of the company’s reporting to understand the basic processes through which the company identified the salient human rights issues on which it is reporting, and the key factors that informed that process.

Guidance to Section B1 described the key criteria that should guide the process of identifying the company’s salient human rights issues. The reporting company should describe how those criteria have informed its identification of those salient issues in its response to this section.

It will also be important to convey any way in which inputs from stakeholders have informed the company’s understanding of its salient human rights issues. In doing so, information about inputs from potentially affected stakeholders will be particularly relevant since their perspectives can raise important insights and understanding of potential impacts that may not otherwise be apparent to the company.

Engaging with potentially affected stakeholders usually happens at the local level and may be a part of the company’s human rights due diligence or other ongoing activities. For larger companies, this can mean different engagement processes with different stakeholders in different business units or country operations. Companies – particularly smaller companies – that cannot so easily engage with affected stakeholders directly, may find reasonable alternatives such as consulting a variety of credible, independent expert resources, through which they can gain insight into the likely or typical perspectives of those who may be impacted.

It can also be valuable for reporting companies to involve expert stakeholders in the the overarching assessment of their salient issues. These are stakeholders with a general understanding of human rights risks within the company’s industry or areas of operation. They can include members of the company’s own workforce as well as external experts. Consultations with these stakeholders can help ensure that the company’s conclusions as to which human rights risks are salient for its business are, and are perceived as, well founded.

For more on the different kinds of stakeholders that are particularly relevant to companies’ human rights performance, see the supporting guidance to question C2.

Essential information includes:

  • Key aspects of the process through which the company arrived at the stated list of salient human rights issues on which the remainder of its reporting will focus;
  • The key factors that informed the company’s assessment of salient human rights issues, with particular attention to the factors of severity and likelihood (see B1);
  • If and how inputs from stakeholders were taken into account in the identification of the salient human right issues, in particular, inputs from potentially affected stakeholders;
  • Any role of senior management and the Board in identifying and/or agreeing on the salient human right issues.

Additional relevant information for the company’s answer could include:

  • Any developments in the process to identify salient human right issues since the last reporting period;
  • Any reasons for changes in the salient human right issues being reported since the last reporting period;
  • If it is likely that readers may reasonably expect certain other issues to be included under the company’s salient human right issues, the reason why they are not.

UN Guiding Principle 18 provides that:

“In order to gauge human rights risks, business enterprises should identify and assess any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts with which they may be involved either through their own activities or as a result of their business relationships. This process should:

(a) Draw on internal and/or independent external human rights expertise;

(b) Involve meaningful consultation with potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate to the size of the business enterprise and the nature and context of the operation.”

The commentary to UN Guiding Principle 18 states that:

“To enable business enterprises to assess their human rights impacts accurately, they should seek to understand the concerns of potentially affected stakeholders by consulting them directly in a manner that takes into account language and other potential barriers to effective engagement. In situations where such consultation is not possible, business enterprises should consider reasonable alternatives such as consulting credible, independent expert resources, including human rights defenders and others from civil society.”

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