We help our clients understand and manage their impact on society. We know that to meet the continuously evolving global social standards and expectations, different sets of competencies are needed: human rights expertise, business knowledge, and an understanding of how to manage the intersection between the two. Through our experience and resources, our team helps drive positive change and growth.
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, developing both standardised, road-tested approaches and pioneering strategies. 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.
Our global team of experts & network
Enact has a core team of human rights experts in Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and China. Additionally, 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.
Our strength lies in our team. Through each consultant’s unique experiences and skillsets, our team has successfully developed a clearly defined approach for managing human rights. While we have completed numerous human rights projects for companies across the world, we are not committed to a prescribed approach. Instead, we use our experience as inspiration, understanding that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Our focus is to aid our client in improving their human rights performance as efficiently and professionally as possible, meaning we shape our service to meet your needs.
Why human rights matters
Global standards require that businesses respect human rights. To meet this requirement, businesses must ensure that their activities do no harm, or as little harm as possible.
With the UN Human Rights Council’s endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs – the ‘Ruggie principles’) in 2011, it is clear that all companies – regardless of size and sector – have a responsibility to respect human rights. Other standards, including ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the human rights principles of the United Nations Global Compact say the same. Additionally, the ‘S’ in ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) represents “social responsibility,” meaning it includes human rights issues.
Respecting human rights is about minimising reputational, legal, and financial risks. When human rights are prioritised, businesses can realise their full potential: ensuring sustainability, improving management systems, maintaining legal integrity, securing financial viability, as well as conserving a good brand.
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.
Human Rights & Business Practice Group
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.
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 / or regional human rights law and standards. We ensure that our findings are not academic or theoretical in nature by making findings concrete, tangible and understandable from an action perspective (in other words, what is the business expected to do to respond to negative impact or risk or to leverage positive impacts).
We understand business. When it comes to understanding of business processes, Enact has vast experience from working with business processes in most sectors on a global scale. In our experience, human rights expertise alone will not provide solutions. In fact, human rights findings presented in the abstract may create worry and confusion. Instead, we know that solutions to be sustainable, have to be integrated and embedded into existing company processes and systems. Therefore, an understanding of business processes is important.
We have global presence and local knowledge. Enact has a core team with human rights expertise in Sweden 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 was, and still is today, to provide a safe arena for companies for creative dialogue, to build knowledge and exchange experiences in the field of business and human rights. The focus is on the why but on how companies can work in practice to know and show that they are respecting human rights.
The network should also be a tool for staying abreast of the rapid developments within the field of business and human rights. That is why international experts and front-running businesses are frequently invited to share their experiences 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 an 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 to discuss current challenges and progress in order to ensure well-prepared meetings. Network members are:
We work with clients to develop human rights policies, and to ensure that human rights are embedded into relevant codes of conduct or sustainability policy statements. We assist clients in integrating human rights into standards, guidelines and checklists. All of our work is based on international and regional human rights norms and standards.
We also support clients in communicating policy commitments with employees, business partners and suppliers.
- Policy statements, codes of conduct
- Standard requirements & Guidelines
- Embedding human rights into the organisation
We work with clients to prepare for and execute for human rights due diligence. We design human rights due diligence processes; stand-alone, integrated or pilot projects. We assist companies to strengthen business processes and internal controls on human rights. We work with companies to integrate human rights into existing risk management processes, business planning processes, compliance programmes, and assurance or audit programmes. We support clients to develop incident reporting systems, to report externally on human rights and to develop grievance mechanisms.
- Human rights due diligence
- Supply chain
- Internal controls (risk, audit, assurance, compliance)
- Management systems
We work with clients not just on policy and process but to support them in ensuring that human rights is managed on the ground. We offer an external eye through human rights impact assessments or human rights assurance programmes. We provide clients with advice on concrete dilemmas that may arise in daily activities and propose immediate and systematic solutions to unanticipated challenges. We provide support to business partners meetings such as suppliers to engage on human rights strategies. We facilitate meetings between company and stakeholders and support our clients in other ways to understand the perspective of affected stakeholders.
- Impact Assessment & Due Diligence
- Health & Safety
- Environment & Climate
- Corruption & Anti-bribery
- Supply Chain
Enact has provided human rights training to companies, State and civil society for over a decade. We provide in-house training on a diverse range of topics including diversity and discrimination, children’s rights, human rights, due diligence, remediation and other topics. We capacitate senior management and board as well as middle management and operators on how to put human rights into practice. We also have a vast offering of public training on emerging and hot topics in the field of business and human rights.
- In-house training for different functions e.g. risk, audit, sustainability, compliance, supply chain
- Supplier capacity building seminars
- Public training – see our Calendar
Understanding stakeholder expectations on company human rights conduct is important. Stakeholders are workers, local communities, vulnerable groups and contractors as well as shareholders, suppliers, business partners, investors, regulators, municipalities and media. Companies are expected to communicate and report on their human rights due diligence and performance to stakeholders, in particular potentially 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. We can assist companies with:
- Mapping stakeholders
- Engagement with affected stakeholders (web-based, by phone or face-to-face meetings)
- Conducting a roundtable or seminar-like consultation with NGOs or other civil society organisations on human rights
- Engagement with suppliers to improve supplier capacity on human rights
- Engagement with human rights capacitated stakeholders as part of a materiality analysis
- Particular engagement efforts on human rights, for example when board or investors require specific communication on a human rights risk or exposure
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.