Major international companies in the agricultural, clothing and extractive industries have recently been assessed in respect of human rights standards in their businesses and supply chains.

The 2018 Key Findings Report issued by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) was released on 12 November 2018. The report scored 101 of the largest publicly traded companies in the world on a set of human rights indicators built on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The study revealed that 40% of companies failed to demonstrate any evidence of how they identify and address human rights risks and virtually none of them showed commitments to ensure workers in their supply chain and operations had living wages. Less than 10% of companies had public policies to protect human rights defenders and more than half of clothing and agricultural companies did not meet expectations on preventing child labour in their supply chains.

Nevertheless the study shows that on average companies are improving their practices. The average company score was 27%, a marked improvement compared to last year’s 18%. The increase is partly due to methodological changes, but the CHRB cited among the main reasons, better company disclosures, policies, processes and practices.

About the CHRB

The CHRB is a not-for-profit organisation based in London. It is led by investors and civil society organisations and aims to create an open and public benchmark of corporate human rights performance. The overall objective of the initiative is to rely on transparency and competition between companies to encourage responsible business conduct. Similar initiatives include Behind the Brands (human rights issues in the food industry), KnowTheChain (focusing on modern slavery and forced labour in specific sectors) and Ranking Digital Rights (which categorises the largest telecommunications and internet firms in terms of their approach to freedom of expression and the right to privacy).

Each year the CHRB will issue a report assessing the companies that it reviews against six measurement indicators:

  1. Governance and policy commitments
  2. Embedding respect and human rights due diligence
  3. Remedies and grievance mechanisms
  4. Company human rights practices performance
  5. Responses to serious allegations
  6. Transparency

The assessment draws from publicly available information, and is based on extensive multi-stakeholder consultations across the globe and engagement with over 400 companies, governments, civil society organisations, investors, academics and legal experts.