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Corporate Human Rights Benchmark: Increased transparency on security and human rights thanks to DCAF-ICRC recommendations

The newly released 2023 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) ranks 110 of the world’s largest apparel and extractives companies on how they ensure respect for human rights in business operations and supply chains. Investors, asset managers, and public pension funds use information provided by initiatives like the CHRB to inform their investment decisions. The CHRB’s new data on security, human rights and conflict prevention will be essential for investors when they evaluate shareholder proposals and develop resolutions to collectively engage companies and encourage better human rights performance from companies in their portfolios.

DCAF-ICRC’s recommendations:

In 2021, during the World Benchmarking Alliance’s review of the CHRB methodology, DCAF-ICRC successfully advocated for the inclusion of an indicator on security, conflict prevention, and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) pertaining to extractive companies (indicator A.1.3.b). DCAF-ICRC also recommended revising the indicator on how companies identify risks and implement heightened human rights due diligence when they operate in conflict affected areas (indicator B.2.1). The indicator was applied to the methodology pertaining to extractives, apparel, automotives, food and agricultural products, and ICT manufacturing. Thanks to the new methodologies, there is increased transparency and information in the 2023 CHRB on how extractive and apparel companies manage their security arrangements, implement conflict prevention efforts and ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

Results from the 2023 CHRB:

Through the revised indicators, information on security and human rights is now transparently available. Indeed, the results of the 2023 CHRB indicate significant challenges for companies. However, thanks to the CHRB, we have the data at hand to measure the path to improvement.

Concerning extractive companies:

  • 38% of companies describe their security arrangements and how they ensure respect for human rights while maintaining the security of operations; 31% describe how they ensure their business partners (including joint ventures) implement an equivalent approach to security management.
  • 5% of companies provide examples of working with community members to improve security or prevent or address tensions related to company operations.
  • 22% of companies have a publicly available commitment to respect the rights of human rights defenders.
  • 5% of companies have a public commitment to respect IHL and to provide protections for civilians and other protected persons when operating in conflict-affected areas.
  • 40% of companies in the CHRB have a public policy statement committing to respect the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) in their own operations, while 5% of companies expect business partners to make a commitment to the VPs.

Concerning apparel companies:

  • 62% of apparel companies surveyed obtained fewer than 20/100 points in the benchmark, and average scores on the different measurement areas remain low.
  • 43% of companies described their process of identifying risks in business relationships.
  • 69% of companies improved their score on key human rights indicators. Apparel companies have demonstrated the most improvement on the following: assigning senior management responsibility for human rights, assessing human rights risks and impacts, providing grievance mechanisms for external stakeholders, disclosing the process for remedying adverse impacts, and on mitigating specific sector-related risks in company operations.

About the CHRB: As an initiative between investors and civil society, the World Benchmarking Alliance created the first open, and public benchmark for corporate human rights performance. The CHRB has been published annually since 2017 and provides a comparative snapshot of companies in high-risk sectors, looking at the policies, processes, and practices they have in place to systematise their human rights approach and how they respond to serious allegations.

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