ICCR launches human rights initiative for investors

Faith body wants investor “input and buy-in” for new alliance

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the US-based faith investment group whose members have more than $400bn in assets, has launched a new initiative designed to expand collective investor action on a range of critical human rights issues.
The Investor Alliance for Human Rights will be a platform for collective action on human rights, in a similar vein to the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), said David Schilling, ICCR’s Senior Program Director for Human Rights.
The alliance, believed to be first of its kind, is specifically inviting participation and collaboration from the wider investment community globally – not just ICCR members. The initiative will be housed and staffed at ICCR’s headquarters in New York City.
“The outcomes of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark pilot study are another signal that companies still have more work to do on respecting human rights,” said Anna Pot, Senior Sustainability Specialist at Dutch pension investment giant APG Asset Management.
“In order to be effective, more investors should use their leverage to engage companies in a dialogue about truly integrating respect for human rights in their strategies. We are grateful to ICCR for providing a mechanism that empowers more investors’ work in this area.”
Previous investor action on human rights has been fragmented and more focused on specific episodes, such as the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in 2013. The new initiative will be more of a “rapid reaction” network, Schilling said.
The ICCR will reach out to pension funds and asset managers, with Schilling saying: “We want their input and buy-in”.There will be a steering group to shape the governance of the group. The ICCR is keen not to duplicate the work of the PRI Collaboration Platform (formerly Clearinghouse). The launch was also welcomed by Patrick Doherty of the Office of the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who said the need for investor engagement on human rights “is more important than ever”.
It also drew support from Shift, the non-profit organisation focused on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Christian Brothers Investment Services
The initiative is supported by funding from Pam Omidyar’s Humanity United foundation and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

The main objectives:

  • Build a collective action platform that allows for the quick mobilization of a broad group of investors to advocate on urgent business and human rights issues.
  • Address critical policy challenges, and emergent human rights risks arising from corporate operations and supply chains;
  • Coordinate strategies with relevant stakeholders
  • Expand the current shareholder engagement agenda on human rights.