STEP 4: Identify good practice with regards to human rights reporting
The first decision any company must make when considering human rights and reporting is which elements of its human rights monitoring it should disclose to a wider audience. This need not be a fully public audience, sometimes the reports are targeted at investors or peer companies in a business or multi-stakeholder initiative, but more often the reports will either be targeted at , or access to, a much larger audience.
Transparency is itself is a human rights principle, and so the default principle should be to make as much information externally accessible as possible within bounds of reasonableness. There are a number of factors to consider here:
- What data will be of interest and use to external stakeholders? Can stakeholders be involved in a dialogue and negotiation about which human rights information should be included in the business reports?
- A growing number of governments are now requiring business to report on its non-financial impact and due diligence. Whilst not all governments require human rights to be included in this, it might represent a prudent position for an international company to be consistent in terms of the human rights data it releases across a number of markets or countries of operation. Likewise a number of non-financial investment indices will includes human rights indicators which a company should ensure it reports on.
- A business should also be clear about what it will not report on. As outlined in the previous section, any data which is of a personal nature must remain confidential, so must information which would put anyone at risk should it be released.
- A particular dilemma for business is to be explicit on its dealing with government representatives, particularly in contexts where corruption or the abuse of human rights might be a real concern. Business is often encouraged to speak out publicly on a range of human rights issues. Sometimes it might be in a business’ interest to do so in order to avoid accusations of ‘silent complicity’ in countries of widespread human rights abuse. However, business needs to be clear that sometimes it would be irresponsible to make public a private intervention, by a business leader, on an issue of human rights if there is reason to believe that this would endanger the victims themselves or the negate the ability of the business to do so in future.