The monitor found Indian companies to be in default of basic UN rights standards: of four Indian companies, Page Industries and UltraTech cement fall within the 0-10% band, ONGC comes under the 10-20% band, while Coal India is sitting in the 20-30% band.The most number of serious allegations against the listed companies have been made in India this year at 19. India is followed by three other Asian countries meeting the CHRB severity threshold–Indonesia (16), China (15), and Bangladesh (14).
Meanwhile, Monster Beverages, Starbucks and Costco are among the poorest performers in the ranking. They consistently refuse to meet the basic requirements and who need further and greater pressure to act, the Report notes.
Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, a UK-based non-profit released their 2019 Benchmarking Report, which covers in-depth assessments and rankings of how well companies in high-risk sectors perform on human rights issues. Here’s a look into their findings.
CHRB and its Objectives
The UK-based non-profit Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) was launched in 2013 as a multi-stakeholder initiative and draws on investor, business and human rights, and benchmarking expertise from 6 organisations, including APG Asset Management (APG), Aviva Investors, and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB).
The Benchmark provides a year-on-year, comparative snapshot of the world’s largest companies, with a view to look into the policies, processes and practices they have in place, and how they respond to serious allegations. This organisation has undertaken this venture in order to ensure that the competitive nature of the market does not have adverse effects on the human rights of on workers, communities and consumers.
The list of global organisations that the Benchmark has looked into cover all the big names one can think of. They have been categorised into the agricultural products, apparel, extractives, and information and communication technology (ICT) manufacturing. Of the 200 corporations assessed, 100 have been assessed since the CHRB’s inception in 2016 and 100 have been added for this year. The companies covered in the Report that are headquartered in India are Coal India, UltraTech Cement, ONGC, and Page Industries (also known as Jockey India).
The study assesses how corporations in these sectors are performing across 100 human-rights-related indicators, using publicly available information on issues such as forced labour and wages. The resulting findings are then translated into a percentage score.
As per its website, CHRB relies on public information disclosed by companies on their websites, other platforms, or through the “CHRB Disclosure Platform”. The CHRB then uses that public information in its assessments to produce a transparent benchmark as a public good.
The Scales of Measurement under which the human rights-related indicators have been classified in the 2019 Report include: “Governance and Policies”, “Embedding Respect and Human Rights Due Diligence”, Remedies and Grievance Mechanisms”, “Performance: Company Human Rights Practices”, “Performance: Responses To Serious Allegations”, and “Transparency”.
Findings from this year
The 2019 average score for the 200 benchmarked multi-national corporations is a shocking 24%, with more than half of the companies score less than 20% and only 1 in 10 companies score more than 50%. The Report notes that these extremely low scores reveal poor levels of implementation of the United Nations General Principles by most of the companies assessed, which is particularly concerning given that the CHRB focuses on the industries with the highest risks of negative human rights impacts.
Does this scrutiny leave any impact?
The Report notes that low-scoring companies that do not demonstrate a willingness to improve expose themselves to increased scrutiny in the media and in shareholder resolutions. Kraft Heinz, a low scoring company that was named and shamed for its scores on CHRB last year committed to and published a human rights policy and due diligence process in response to concerted shareholder pressure – resulting in the withdrawal of the resolution and Kraft Heinz has just left the 0-10% band.