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A Step Forward on Human Rights Reporting

human-rights-blog

The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, launched on in February 2015, provides new guidance for how companies can report on progress implementing their responsibility to respect human rights. This responsibility is set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which constitute the global standard in this field.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI) share a vision of the importance and need for corporate human rights reporting that is aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. GRI and RAFI believe that meaningful human-rights reporting is a key means of advancing the integration of respect for human rights into business practices.

GRI provides the most widely-used sustainability reporting guidelines, addressing companies’ economic, social and environmental impacts. The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, developed through RAFI, provides the first comprehensive guidance to companies to report exclusively on their human rights performance in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and is a complementary tool to the GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. 

The Reporting Framework

The Reporting Framework provides a concise set of questions which any company should strive to answer 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.

The Reporting Framework was developed through the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI), co-facilitated by Shift and Mazars through an open, global, consultative process involving representatives from over 200 companies, investor groups, civil society organizations, governments, assurance providers, lawyers, and other expert organizations from all regions of the world. Consultations took place in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Jakarta, London, Manila, Medellin, New York, and Yangon.

The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework is the first of two guidance frameworks developed through the RAFI process; the second, an Assurance Framework, will be issued in early 2016 following further consultations. It will provide guidance for assurance providers and internal auditors on how to appropriately assess and assure the information reported by companies in line with the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.

“Reporting is one of the crucial ways organizations can convey their commitment to bettering the lives of individuals affected by business operations. Human rights have been a cornerstone of GRI-reporting since its inception,” says GRI’s Chief Executive Michael Meehan. “The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework is an example of issue-specific reporting that, in combination with the GRI Standard, has the potential to enhance organizations’ ability to understand, manage and communicate their commitments to a host of issues such as human rights, climate change, anti-corruption, and biodiversity, to name only a few.”

The Way Forward

GRI and RAFI continue their collaboration to develop a joint summary of the key synergies between the two frameworks and how companies can benefit from their combined implementation in practice. Caroline Rees, president of Shift, says, “The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework offers companies a simple set of questions to which they will wish to have answers not only to report on how they respect human rights, but also to know whether they are managing these risks effectively. We have designed the Framework to fit neatly and practically with broader reporting frameworks and regulatory requirements. We have particularly valued the support and contributions of GRI in helping us ensure it dovetails with the G4 Guidelines, so the two can be applied seamlessly together.”

For more information, visit www.globalreporting.org

AIAG’s Role

In addition to providing training, AIAG is working with members to form a collective voice of influence on the G4 indicators, automotive sector supplements, and other initiatives. AIAG also encourages OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to collaborate on initiatives that will use the GRI model to address benchmarking of surveys, thus reducing the proliferation of requests that presently burden companies in the industry.

For more information on AIAG’s GRI initiatives, contact Program Development Manager - Corporate Responsibility Tanya Bolden at CR@AIAG.org.