Business and human rights

Contents

How we work with the UNGPs

JRS Knowhow supports the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).   

The UNGPs oblige states to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in the context of business and they also challenge businesses to work as a part of a bigger, connected whole to advance human rights.  

The Principles recognise the pivotal role that businesses, large and small, can play. They ask businesses to adhere to all the relevant laws and respect human rights in everything that they do. It also stresses the importance of providing effective remedies where rights are breached. Read the section explaining the UNGPs if you are new to what they mean for businesses. 

Our aim as a social enterprise is to raise awareness of the UNGPs across Scotland and help organisations on their learning journey to make better decisions that centre human rights, environment and equality.  

We use the UNGPs to practically to;  
  • Set our strategy, for example, we want to work with small and medium enterprises across Scotland to celebrate their important work advancing human rights, and we are also focusing on creating learning products about AI and human rights harms,  
  • Guide all our policies, including environment policy, data protection policy,  equality diversity and inclusion policy, as well as participation policies, procurement policies and standard operating procedures, 
  • Guide our personal development plans and individual learning journeys, previous learning undertaken includes rights based approach learning workshops, seminars about the right to a healthy environment, and micro-credentials about accessibility online and equity in education,
  • Assess and analyse the impact of our work, including who we work with, what we buy and how effective our activities are, 
  • Guide complaints and feedback mechanisms and the ways we respond to them to improve our services and products.

Our ambitions and future actions

  • To collaborate with organisations who want to improve their awareness of business and human rights standards and consolidate their practice by moving beyond a template approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environment, social and governance (ESG). We want to work with social enterprises and impact driven businesses across Scotland. With the tech sector, with investors, the legal sector, business advisers and students of business across both community learning spaces, further and higher education in Scotland.
  • To share our learnings and work better across siloed sectors. We want to chat with people who are already working on parts of the wider jigsaw puzzle of a fairer Scotland, from ESG leads, CSR and social impact consultants, Net Zero Coordinators, impact leads and responsible business managers. So that we can identify how the business ecosystem can work towards social and environmental justice together.
  • To continue to learn more and analyse how Equality Law training, instructional design for online learning, and our bespoke consultancy can be better designed to mitigate the harm of trauma and vicarious trauma from oppressive systems and inaccessibility, with a focus on the pedagogy of care for learners and trainers. 
  • Reviewing and monitoring our policies annually and understanding how human rights relate to them. 

About the UNGPs

They are industry standards to guide how we embed human rights in our business strategy, decision making and day to day.  

  • The standards were agreed unanimously  
  • They apply around the world no matter the industry or the type of organisation, whether banking, legal services, production, mineral mining, oil and gas, childcare, consultancy, marketing and advertising, tech and digital product development 
  • They are relevant no matter the size and scale of the organisation 

The guidance specifically asks businesses to: 

  • Avoid infringing on human rights  
  • Respect the rights contained in the International Bill of Human Rights including but not limited to the right to freedom of assembly, freedom from slavery, right to work, right to privacy and freedom from discrimination, to name a few 
  • Mitigate any human rights impacts their business activities have 
  • Meet the scale and complexity of their business activities with relevant work to analyse and mitigate harms 
  • Have policies and processes in place including: 
    • a policy commitment
    • A due diligence process that assesses actual and potential impacts, takes appropriate action and monitors any response 
    • Remedies for any harms 
    • Communicating 

How to find out if the people you work with prioritise the UNGPs

To find out if the people you work with prioritise human rights and environmental justice in everything they do, you can use the following web tools before opening up a conversation and starting more detailed due diligence processes:

How to learn more 

Useful guidance documents, websites and case studies include:

Contact the JRS Knowhow team to chat more about business and human rights.

Written by; Laura ffrench-Constant, Digital Training and Learning Co-ordinator; and approved by Jen Ang, Director 

Date; 27 November 2023 

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