Human Rights and
Business Practice

The Enact Human Rights and Business Practice Group (HRBPG) helps clients with human rights advisory, training, and customised support. We recognise that our clients’ needs are different and aim to find solutions to match each client. With over a decade of experience in helping companies across the world develop their human rights initiatives, our team has the knowledge and skills necessary to propel progress. Launched in 2015, the mission of the HRBPG is to help companies on the global market understand and manage their impacts on people effectively. We know that companies operate under complex circumstances in a volatile world. We have expertise in human rights and business management understand the interlinkages between the two.

Our global team of experts & network

Our strength lies in the unique interdisciplinary team of experts across the globe. We have a clearly defined approach for management of human rights. At the same time, we are not committed to any particular system or process and we do not sell a one-size fits all package solutions. Our focus is to provide tailored support to the client on improving their human rights performance – their impact on people. Besides Enact’s core team of human rights experts in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and China, we have an extensive network of associates and human rights experts in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and North America. Through our core team and global network, we are able to offer a wide range of services across the world.

Why human rights matters

Human rights matter to business because shareholders, investors, governments and civil society expect companies to respect human rights. Companies are increasingly held accountable on human rights performance in their daily operations, supply chains and business relationships. Businesses associated with human rights harm experience financial, legal, reputational and stakeholder relations risks. On the other hand, companies that get it right sustain their social license to operate, build up their brand and support communities’ well-being. Business can play a vital role in protecting human rights. Emerging practice demonstrates that human rights are becoming important in corporate sustainability. Companies across the world implement policies and processes to adopt a systematic, do-no-harm approach that integrate responsibilities into their daily operations. In practice, companies are expected to know and show how they minimise harm to people. The burden of proof is on companies to demonstrate that they are not contributing to harm in global value chains. The United Nations Human Rights Council’s endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“the Ruggie principles”) in 2011 was a milestone event. The Ruggie principles have quickly become the expected standard of business conduct for companies. They define the expectations of business conduct on human rights and state that all companies – regardless of size and sector – have a responsibility to respect human rights. Other market initiatives and standards, including ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, IFC Performance standards, the UN Global Goals and the human rights principles of the United Nations Global Compact have aligned their content with the UNGPs. The UN Guiding Principles are driving change across industries and sectors. The three pillars of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – Protect, Respect and Remedy, are at the core of our work at Enact’s Human Rights and Business Practice Group.

Advisory services, training and capacity building

We help our clients improve their human rights work on various levels, including due diligence, management systems, internal controls, policy, and managing grievances. In short, we help our clients and their business partners to perform better where it really matters. Many companies are engaged in human rights programmes and seek ways to systematise ongoing work that adheres to international standards. Other companies are just getting involved. We strive to help companies in all stages of the process. For those just starting, we help them prioritise limited resources effectively in order to maximise their impact. This can be accomplished with a gap assessment, due diligence review, human rights pilot or a road map. For companies that have worked with human rights, we work to ensure a full integration into existing processes by monitoring performance on the ground. For example, we help companies integrate human rights into their supply chain management system by conducting independent human rights impact assessments or assurances for various stakeholders.

Areas of expertise

  • Human rights policies and embedding into existing business processes
  • Human rights due diligence; stand-alone, integrated or pilot projects
  • Human rights integration in existing risk management systems, compliance programmes, and assurance or audit programmes
  • Human rights impact assessments (HRIAs)
  • Conducting public and in-house human rights training and capacity building
  • Stakeholder processes and community engagement, complaint mechanisms and remediation
  • Reporting on human rights performance
  • Human rights risks
  • Salient and materiality analysis

Some of the organisations Enact has done work for include Samsung Electronics, Volvo Cars, Stora Enso, Electrolux, Akzo Nobel, Ax Food, LIDL, Vattenfall, Swedfund, S-Group, Swedavia, Jernhusen, Swedish, Dutch and Danish governments. Read more about Enact’s approach to business and human rights and our product offer here:

Human Rights and Business Practice Group Enact Sustainable Strategies.pdf

Human Rights & Business Practice Group

We believe that to support companies on human rights, at least three components are required: an understanding of human rights, an understanding of business processes and a global network of locally owned knowledge and expertise. We offer our clients all three. 01 We understand human rights. Human rights expertise is required to analyse risks and impacts by business activities. We base our research and analysis on international and regional human rights legislation and standards. 02 We understand business. Enact has vast experience from working with business management issues across sectors and countries. In our experience, human rights expertise alone will not provide solutions. In fact, human rights findings presented in an abstract may create worry and confusion. We know that sustainable solutions have to be integrated and embedded into existing company processes and systems. Therefore, an understanding of business processes, strategy, operations and daily business on the ground is important. We ensure that our findings are not academic or theoretical, but focus on concrete, tangible and action-oriented solutions. Only then will it be clear for businesses how to respond to negative impacts and how to leverage positive impacts. 03 We have global presence and local knowledge. Enact has a core team with human rights expertise in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and China and a global network of experts and associates to draw upon in international projects and contexts.

In 2012, Enact and number of dedicated multinational Swedish companies launched The Swedish Network for Business and Human Rights. The aim of the network is to provide a safe arena for companies to build knowledge and exchange experience in the field of business and human rights. The focus is not on why companies should work with human rights and business, but on how companies can work in practice to know and show that they are respecting human rights. The network is also a tool to keep up with the latest trends and global good practice. That is why we frequently engage international experts and corporate champions to share their experience and views with the network members. Hewlett-Packard, Nestlé, Novartis, PUMA, Swedwatch, Timberland, Total  and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs are some of the organizations that have made a guest appearance at a network meeting. Enact’s role is to be the expert, facilitator and project manager of the network. This means that we keep a close dialogue with all network members between the meetings and we ensure seamless coordination and professional meetings. Today, our the network members are: Alfa Laval Boliden Clas Ohlson Electrolux H&M Oriflame Stora Enso Swedfund Telia Company Vattenfall Volvo Cars AxFood For further information, please contact

01 Policy Review We support companies in developing policies and anchoring them in the organisation from the top down to the employees and suppliers. A frequent service that we provide to clients, is a policy gap assessment that looks into internal policies and procedures. The result of the assessment points to areas for improving policy adherence to human rights. We also support clients in communicating policy commitments with employees, business partners and suppliers. 02 Human rights processes We support companies with integrating human rights into existing business processes. A common question from many companies is whether existing sustainability processes can facilitate inclusion of human rights practices. 03 Board Responsibility We support Boards and Management Teams to effectively manage and have oversight of human rights risks in their organisations. We provide training, but also develop checklists or questionnaires for Boards to ensure human rights compliance and management of the most severe risks.

Human rights due diligence is the risk management process, through which companies manage their human rights risks and impacts. It differs from a traditional risk management process (e.g. ERM), because the focus is on risks to the affected stakeholder, and not the business. It differs from a traditional financial or MNA due diligence, in that it requires ongoing efforts to continuously manage human rights impacts. Our approach to Human Rights Due Diligence is based on human rights standards, placing the rights holders in the centre. We apply a robust methodology, whilst recognising that human rights due diligence is never a one-size fits all. We use international human rights standards as the benchmark and existing business processes as a starting point. In principle, we always base the due diligence process on existing company processes, whilst listening to the affected stakeholder as well as internal company functions and planning for follow up at an early stage. Our services include:

  • Human Rights Impact Assessment
  • Human Rights Risk Management
  • Human Rights Audit & Assurance
  • Reporting on Human Rights
  • Salient and Materiality Analysis
  • Evaluations
  • Integrating human rights into existing risk management processes, business planning processes, compliance programmes, and assurance or audit programmes
  • Human rights Due Diligence processes – stand-alone, integrated or pilot projects

01 In-house training Enact frequently supports multinational companies across various industries with in-house training on topics including diversity and discrimination, children’s rights, human rights risks in the supply chain, due diligence, remediation. We build capacity for senior management and board, middle management and operators on how to put human rights into practice. 02 Public training Enact’s approach to training is based on inspiration, interaction, practical implementation and real business cases. We have partnered with companies such as Telia, H&M, ABN Amro, which bring own company cases to our training. Our curricula include courses on topics such as human rights risk, how to conduct a human rights impact assessment and human rights reporting. 03 Networks Enact has vast experience with initiating and coordinating networks within responsible business, including human rights. We bring companies together to facilitate creative dialogues and help members to stay relevant and up-to-date. Enact often brings renowned global experts and leading companies to share cases, `emerging trends and best practice. Check our calendar for upcoming training courses and events. 

01 Mapping,  Strategy and Facilitation Understanding stakeholder expectations on human rights conduct is increasingly important. Companies are under scrutiny to proactively communicate and report on their human rights due diligence and performance to stakeholders, in particular potentially and actually affected stakeholders. This can be done by engaging at community or worker level, with individuals who are affected or potentially affected by business activities. But it can also mean engaging by proxy – in other words, engaging with groups that may have particular knowledge about what the impacts look like on the ground. Enact has vast experience with multi-stakeholder consultations and facilitation. 02 Grievance reporting and Management The UNGPs state that companies are required to provide access to remedy to affected rights holders. Grievance mechanisms are needed to ensure that the affected stakeholders are able to speak up, so that grievances can be addressed early and remediated directly. Enact has broad expertise in reviewing and supporting implementation of grievance and complaint reporting mechanisms. We advise companies on design and implementation of grievance mechanisms, incident reporting / management mechanisms as well as developing remediation commitment procedures.

In addition to providing support to companies, Enact also works with State agencies and civil society to increase capacity on business and human rights and find workable models to foster responsible behaviour for companies. We have worked with State-owned enterprises, State agencies and authorities in advisory capacity and on training. We have also done innovative work with NGOs and civil society organisations to increase capacity on business and human rights, as well as proposing innovative working approaches to partner with companies. Contact us for more information.

  • Why should companies respect human rights?

The business case for human rights has never been clearer. In short, it is about minimising risk and leveraging opportunities. Companies that do not respect human rights face financial risks – investors divesting. Companies are increasingly being sued for failing to put in place systems to respect human rights or not being awarded necessary permits for the business. Reputational risks include being condemned in global media, and allegations spread fast over social media. Nevertheless, businesses that take on the responsibility to respect human rights are increasingly being rewarded for their good behaviour. Good governance procedures now include proper accountability and safeguards for human rights – which is ultimately the board’s responsibility. Ethical investors are satisfied, stakeholder relations improve, licences are awarded and customers reward good behaviour. Enact supports companies to minimise risk human rights risk and associated business risks as well as to leverage opportunities.

  • What are our red flag human rights risks?

Companies are expected to be aware of their biggest human rights risks and report on how they are managed. An emerging trend among global leading companies is to report on salient human rights issues; in other words, those human rights risks that are potentially the most severe for the business activities. The novelty is to assess human rights risk from the perspective of risk to stakeholders, and not the risk to business. We know the methodology for how best to find out about your biggest human rights risk.

  • How should we prioritise our human rights work?

Companies have different ways of prioritising their most important human rights work. Regardless of what the driving force is for a particular company, good practice is that companies must prioritise the most severe human rights risks (as defined by risk to stakeholder, not risk to business).

  • How can a company know and show that it respects human rights?

The business expected standard of conduct is for companies to know and show that they respect human rights. This means that it is not enough for companies to have a policy. Companies need to have in place an effective system to make sure that they control their human rights risks. In other words, have an effective and ongoing human rights due diligence.

  • We already have management systems for labour standards, health, safety, environment and corruption. And proactive work for diversity. Do we really need to do much more?

Many human rights risks will be covered by existing systems that manage health, safety, environment and corruption. Nevertheless, most companies that look deeper quickly realise that various human rights issues are missed by this invalid assumption. Most companies have blind spots that may reveal serious human rights challenges. The expected standard of conduct for business on human rights requires that companies respect all universally recognised human rights. Has your company examined the potential risks associated with civil and political rights, the risks to indigenous groups, disabled persons, migrant workers, children and other vulnerable groups? Many traditional management systems will not cover these potential risks.