Top Companies Ranked by Respect for Human Rights
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Top Companies Ranked by Respect for Human Rights

By Saxon Norgard, Associate Editor 14 Mar 2017
Workplace

Ever wanted to know how some of the world’s biggest companies stack up when it comes to human rights? 

Well, we now have a list! After two years of consultation, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has released its Corporate Human Rights Benchmark ranking the top 98 companies in agriculture, clothing and mining on their human rights performance.

There were some shocking findings. Out of 60 companies assessed on setting targets for paying the living wage, 59 companies scored a big fat zero. Unilever is the one company publicly setting timeframes for determining what the living wage is where they operate, and demonstrating progress against these.

Out of 11 clothing companies assessed on working hours, all 11 failed to demonstrate good practices in their own operations.

And out of the 19 clothing and agriculture companies assessed on women’s rights, only five companies (Unilever, Christian Dior, Prada, Fast Retailing, VF) earned any points. These firms could show how they prohibit violence, intimidation, and harassment of women; or how they account for differential impacts on men and women; or how they ensure and monitor equal opportunities. But not a single company scored full points by meeting all of these standards.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The Benchmark shows a cluster of companies taking leadership and driving forward with corporate human rights. Here are the top ten:

  1. BHP Billiton
  2. Marks & Spencer Group
  3. Rio Tinto
  4. Nestle
  5. Adidas
  6. Unilever
  7. Total
  8. Hennes & Mauritz (H&M)
  9. Kellogg
  10. Anglo American

Others have fallen significantly behind. Here are the bottom performers, starting with the worst:

  1. Costco Wholesale
  2. Macy’s
  3. Group Mexico
  4. Yum! Brands
  5. Oil & Natural Gas Corporation
  6. Kohl’s
  7. Ross Stores
  8. China Petroleum & Chemical
  9. Coal India
  10. McDonald’s

How they were ranked

There is a serious amount of mathematics behind this list, but broadly the companies were measured against six core themes:

  • Governance and Policies – has the company developed policies to promote human rights?
  • Embedding Respect and Human Rights Due Diligence – how well are those policies implemented in practice?
  • Remedies – how well does the company address any adverse impacts on human rights?
  • Company Human Rights Practices – focuses on specific practices in each industry which may enable or endanger human rights.
  • Responses to Serious Allegations – how well has the company responded to serious allegations of adverse effects against human rights?
  • Transparency – how open is the company about human rights-related issues?

You can read more about the methodology here.

This is just the beginning. The group’s ultimate goal is to continue adding new industries until it can rank the top 500 publicly-listed companies worldwide. We have set out the top and bottom performers above, but you can check out the full list here.

Want to learn more about human rights in business?

Featured image from Pixabay.com. First image © Anupam_ts, used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence.

About The Author

Saxon Norgard Associate Editor

Saxon is one of RightsInfo's volunteer Site Editors and a future trainee solicitor in London. Originally hailing from Australia, his interests lie in family law, international affairs and human rights.

Saxon is one of RightsInfo's volunteer Site Editors and a future trainee solicitor in London. Originally hailing from Australia, his interests lie in family law, international affairs and human rights.