Why integrate Human Rights?
The general, abstract perception of the term “Human Rights” and the lack of translation of what Human Rights mean in business terms has prevented companies from actively engaging with it. Nevertheless, this decision does not come with good news. Not integrating Human Rights not only impacts employees and stakeholders, but even the general reputation of the company by the local and international communities.
The excess of business social irresponsibility has caused immense Human Rights violations and abuses across the globe. Alas, this has not stopped corporate social irresponsibility. Companies often assume that Human Rights violations and abuses only lead to small scale litigation (if at all) and that implementation of Human Rights is costly, burdensome and impractical.
Some of the major hindrances for the integration of Human Rights into any business have been various myths associated with the term. These have alienated the business world from actively engaging with these most fundamental principles of our being. Let us dismantle these myths:
1. Myth of ‘Costs’
The primary myth around Human Rights is the cost associated with implementing Human Rights. Companies err in thinking that any changes in the alignment of the policies and procedures lead to massive overhead costs.
On the contrary, the alignment to international standards and best practices are extremely cost-effective in the long run. Generally, not integrating Human Rights in the procedures and policies of a company results in Human Rights abuses, which consequently leads to catastrophic economic damages.
Litigation costs can be drastically reduced when Human Rights policies are absorbed into the business model;
The costs that are paid in damages and in public relations will decrease by implementing international standards; and
The costs associated with loss of consumer trust and consumer share can also be mitigated by being a forerunner in Corporate Social Responsibility.
While some of these problems can be resolved with small economic damages, the ensuing chain litigation and consequential economic damages can be detrimental to the company’s financial health.
2. Myth of ‘Burden’
Another myth around Human Rights is that its implementation is complex and that it can be burdensome upon the management. This myth prevents companies from implementing these principles.
However, these principles are extremely easy to adapt. It is a question of translating international standards into daily, practical guidelines that a company can easily adapt into procedures. Small changes to policy (by implementing Human Rights trainings or case demonstrations) can have massive beneficial effects on the company, on the hierarchical structure and the workforce of a business. Additionally, as above mentioned, these changes in policy can in-turn help reduce litigation, liability and even human resource costs.
3. Myth of ‘Impracticality’
Human Rights are not a subject that is only for academia and international organizations. With its increasing presence in the daily public lives, companies are also a major defender as well as promoter of Human Rights. These principles are not impractical and are in fact essential for any sustainable business. These policies when integrated with the ethical code and policies of the company will build an ethical and sustainable work culture, and also change the way the company interacts with its various stakeholders. By understanding how these principles can be better implemented, businesses become far more stable and ethical.
By mythologizing Human Rights, businesses not just lose out on potential opportunities but create risks of social, reputation, legal and economic nature.
As shown in the cycle graph, one risk leads to another. In the information age, any small Human Rights lapse can have determent effect not only on the finances but also on the brand value of an enterprise. Human Rights policies can help mitigate these risks and, most importantly, create new opportunities. The biggest risk is loss of consumer faith and trust (social risk), this can have detrimental effect on the brand value (reputational), sales and even market share of the organization (economic) as well as numerous heavy loaded lawsuits (legal).
To prevent the entrance in a hell-like loophole, it is imperative to start engaging and integrating international standards and best practices in the company’s policies and procedures.
This is why EOS offers a free of charge company test. Take the test and receive the results of whether you are international standard compliant or not!