Integrating ethics, gender equality and human rights into corporate decision making is crucial.
Mary Robinson, gave the closing Keynote speech – and I must admit – I had no idea who she is. After hearing her speech, and her background (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Robinson), it is clear that the World HR Congress and AHRI continued the trend to have absolutely amazing speakers, and more importantly, speakers that are focused on changing the world.
1990 – Few Companies felt that their role was to assist in Human RIghts
As the times have progressed, companies have begun to realize that there is a responsibility to become involved, and at a minimum, there is a risk to not pay attention. There are reputational and operational risks for companies that do not monitor human rights. Think of Apple and the Chinese plants.
There is now a international approach and standard of how Businesses should be involved in Human Rights (OECD and UN Guiding Principles).
1. Companies have a Duty to protect human rights of their employees
2. Responsibility to Respect Human Rights of others
3. Need to assist in developing better Remedies
She discussed how she worked with the private industry group (European and US Leaders) on helping building practical approaches. One such firm is The Gap, which had published a Social Responsibility report in 2004 which acknowledged that they had problems with human rights in their very long supply chain. As a result of the group and working with Mary, they developed specific practices to help women workers in certain countries.
The Institute of Human Rights and Business was founded in 2008, and Mary was the founding partner. She has since been able to hand off the day to day responsibilities, but she is still the leading patron. She shared how the group has made tremendous progress in Myranamar.