Some 67 of the world’s leading investors, including the likes of APG, Aviva Investors, Rockefeller & Co., the Swedish AP funds, Amundi and PGGM, have come out in support of new guidance for companies on how to report against the United Nations corporate human rights framework.
The investors say the new UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, which is aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the ‘Ruggie framework’), forms a “principled basis to understand material issues for reporting”.
The new guidance is the first to help companies to report on human rights issues in line with the UN Principles that are more commonly known as the Ruggie Principles after the Harvard professor who formulated them.
“We hope it will incentivize improved disclosure and see it as an essential tool that enables investors to review companies’ understanding and management of human rights risks,” the investors – worth a combined $3.91trn (€3.4trn) – said in a joint statement. “It will also guide us in our engagement with companies going forward.” The statement has been led by Boston Common Asset Management.
The investor supporters include major asset owners, fund managers and faith groups (see below).
It’s the culmination of 18 months of work led by the non-profit human rights practice Shift and international accountancy firm Mazars. Professor John Ruggie is chair of the trustees at Shift, which was founded in 2011 after the “soft law” set of principles were adopted by the UN. Early adopters of the new reporting framework include telecoms firm Ericsson, clothing retailer H&M, food group Nestlé, gold miner Newmont and household products giant Unilever; many others are expected to start using it in 2015.The Reporting Framework, organized in a series of ‘smart’ questions, enables companies to begin reporting on their human rights performance, regardless of size or how far they have progressed in implementing their responsibility to respect human rights. It is also designed to incentivize them to improve over time.
Ruggie was today (February 24) due to speak at a discussion in London moderated by the European Parliament’s Richard Howitt about the importance of corporate reporting on human rights. Other speakers include: UK government minister Jo Swinson and Marcela Manubens, Global Vice President for Social Impact at Unilever.
Lead investor signatories (there are also 52 investor supporters, including Amundi, PGGM and AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP7):
• Boston Common Asset Management
• F & C Investments
• APG Asset Management
• Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
• Aviva Investors
• Calvert Investments
• Church of Sweden
• BNP Paribas Investment Partners
• MN Services
• Alliance Trust
• Rockefeller Sustainability and Impact Investing Group
• Hermes Equity Ownership Services
• Domini Social Investments LLC
• NEI Investments