In June 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved new Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which are a basic expectation for all businesses of all sizes in all industries. Since then, one of the key human rights questions faced by companies is this: “How should companies apply the Guiding Principles to business strategy and operations?”

This briefing paper provides insight for information and communications technology (ICT) companies on how to apply the aforementioned Guiding Principles, together with the ten lessons learnt from the first version of the briefing in 2011:

  1. The speed of innovation in the ICT industry presents a daunting practical
    challenge for human rights impact assessments (HRIAs). We have found it
    helpful to think in terms of categories of product, rather than individual
    products, which can change even during the course of an assessment.
  2. Convergence, mergers, and acquisitions can significantly alter the human
    rights risk profile of individual companies. It is important to reassess a
    company’s human rights risk profile following a significant event.
  3. A tree structure (i.e. that branches out to other issue-specific policies) works
    well for human rights policies in the ICT industry.
  4. HRIAs at the level of the product, service, or technology can be especially
    important for ICT companies.
  5. Stakeholders can significantly contribute to helping identify human rights
    risks, but many (though not all) ICT companies consistently undervalue them.
  6. Outside corporate HQ, such as at the country or business unit level, the
    standard of human rights expertise in a company can be very low. Training
    and guidance is required to embed human rights due diligence throughout a
  7. ICT companies often find themselves in positions with limited room for
    maneuvering on human rights; they need to think creatively about their use of
  8. Dialogue and discussion with key departments, executives, and managers
    about potential human rights scenarios are effective methods for integrating
    human rights into company operations—and must be used alongside
    refreshed management systems and processes.
  9. With some notable exceptions, ICT companies rarely report sufficient
    information on human rights, or produce low-quality reports. Innovation in
    reporting is a significant priority.
  10. Transparency around human rights means both reporting to the public and
    communicating with users.

Companies seeking to apply the Guiding Principles are advised to build these
lessons into their human rights programs and strategies.

Applying the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the ICT Industry Version 2.0- Ten Lessons Learned - Briefing paper from BSR, 2012 DOWNLOAD














Case Studies of Human Rights Abuses and Environmental Harm linked to EU Companies and how EU due diligence laws could help protect people and the planet
GuidanceStandards & Codes of ConductGood Practices

Over the past few decades, some of the EU’s largest and most well-known companies have been involved in appalling human rights abuses and environmental harm in countries across the globe. The companies have failed to address abuses perpetuated by ...Read More

Full Package Approach to Labour Codes of Conduct

In this guide the Clean Clothes Campaign offers guidelines on what companies can do to better assess, implement, and verify compliance with labour standards in their supply chains, and eliminate abuses where and when they arise. The exploitation and...Read More

Recommendations: Protection of women human rights defenders at risk in migration contexts
GuidanceGood Practices

These recommendations focus on women human rights defenders at risk in migration contexts (hereinafter, migrant women human rights defenders)–that is, women, girls and gender-diverse persons of all ages who promote and protect the human rights of ...Read More

Modern Slavery: Statutory Guidance for England and Wales (under s49 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015) and Non-Statutory Guidance for Scotland and Northern Ireland

This guidance is aimed at competent authority staff in any part of the UK who make decisions on whether or not an individual is a potential victim/victim of modern slavery for the purpose of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – wherever in the ...Read More

TAGS: Europe