By demonstrating respect for human rights, and actively working to identify, prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts as part of environmental, social and governance (ESG) approaches, businesses can build a strong brand and reputation, enhance sustainability and promote investment.
While human rights have been traditionally seen as the domain of the State, there are an increasing number of human rights obligations and responsibilities applicable to businesses, which are drawn from international, national and state law and the social licence to operate. Mandatory and voluntary human rights due diligence requirements and expectations are growing.
In Australia, the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act and increasing adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are of immediate interest, while global guidelines and principles – such as the Equator Principles in the finance sector, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in the mining industry and the broad OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises – are key considerations for responsible business.
We help clients effectively integrate human rights principles into governance and compliance policies and processes, and undertake due diligence and human rights impact assessments. We also provide training and education to management and staff, with a focus on developing a culture that goes beyond compliance and supports an organisation’s reputation as a principled and responsible business.
Our responsible business and ESG team assists boards and management to ask the hard questions and help ensure compliance with hard and soft law in a way that minimises exposure to litigation. This includes building human rights into major projects, transactions and investments, and developing grievance mechanisms and remediation responses. Should an incident arise, we also provide assured, experienced advice in situations of dispute resolution or crisis management.