Insights from the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark

Tuesday 12 December 2023

The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark by the World Benchmarking Alliance researches the successes of companies in designing and implementing Corporate Human Rights Policies. The results of the Benchmark clearly show that companies should use their economic power to support & mitigate the risks faced by impacted workers & communities. Further, the report details some of the key characteristics of researched companies that have been successful in implementing human rights due diligence practices.  
In this blog we share the key insights from the report.  

1. Appointing responsibility and building capacity is key to successful human rights due diligence 

Companies in the research that have successful human rights due diligence have assigned senior-level responsibilities. This way they can structure the day-to-day management of human rights and make sure there is internal accountability for the topic. Furthermore, organizations successful at human rights due diligence have built internal capacity, especially through in-company trainings. The share of companies providing training on human rights has risen from 25% to 67% in the last five years. Training and capacity building is key in turning policies into action.   

2. Grievance mechanisms will only work if they adequately include rightsholder voices

 Implementing grievance mechanisms for external stakeholders is essential in implementing human rights due diligence. More importantly, companies should take measures to protect those who file complaints through the mechanism. In order for grievance mechanisms to be successful, companies must make an effort to gain rightsholders’ trust. This can be done by involving rightsholders in designing the grievance mechanism and transparently describing procedures and timeframes for addressing complaints, as well as providing transparent information on the outcomes. This helps to empower rightsholders and increase their trust in the mechanisms for filing complaints. Gathering rightsholder input in the design of the grievance mechanism and successfully implementing it is crucial for becoming aware of any barriers to engagement for vulnerable groups and removing the barriers they experience.   

3. Responsible buying practices are needed to enable suppliers to implement human rights practices  

Where buying companies are promoting their human rights agenda, suppliers are the ones responsible for respecting human rights and promoting gender equality on the ground. However, buying companies must enable this by implementing responsible purchasing practices. Practices such as such as last-minute changes to orders and short lead times, which are especially prevalent in the garment industry, intensify pressure on suppliers and can contribute to excessive overtime, increased use of casual labor and unauthorized sub-contracting. Additionally, pressure to reduce prices can make it harder for suppliers to provide a safe working environment for their workers. Thus, companies should not only have ambitious human rights policies in place, they should also consider the suppliers' point of view and adjust their demands to make sure they are not setting unrealistic expectations from suppliers.  

To conclude  

In short, the report shows that companies have made great progress towards implementing human rights due diligence. However, companies should maintain their efforts to create awareness of HRDD within their organization, set up effective grievance mechanisms, and implement responsible buying practices. Only then can Human Rights Due Diligence turn from theory into practice and protect the rightsholders that otherwise get left out of the conversation. 

Learn more 

Would you like to know more about how to implement human rights policies in your organization? Contact us at or have a look at our website
Would you like to stay up to date on the latest updates in the sustainability reporting field? Sign up for our newsletter here