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June 24, 2016
$5 Trillion Investor Coalition Supports Human Rights Benchmark
    by Robert Kropp

The coalition, coordinated by Boston Common Asset Management, hopes that the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark will help improve corporate human rights disclosures and aid investors in their engagement with companies.

In March, a consortium led by Aviva Investors, and including Calvert Investments and the sustainable investment research firm Vigeo Eiris, produced a 150-page Pilot Methodology for the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB). The first ranking of corporate human rights disclosure—of the top 100 companies from the agricultural products, apparel and extractives industries—is scheduled to be published in November.

“The CHRB, through an open-source evidence based approach, will rank the world’s 500 largest publicly listed companies on their approach to human rights,” the consortium has stated. “It will provide a comparative snapshot year-on-year of corporate human rights performance, looking at policies, processes and practices companies have in place to systematize their human rights approach and how they respond when things go wrong.”

The consortium recently
announced that a coalition of 80 institutional investors, with a total of $4.8 trillion in assets under management, has thrown its support behind the CHRB. In 2015, the coalition issued a statement in support of the United Nations' Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. The Framework “is comprised of 31 ‘smart’ questions that enable companies to report meaningfully on their human rights performance, regardless of size or how far they have progressed in implementing their responsibility to respect human rights.”

The investor statement was recently amended to include the following paragraph:

“The undersigned signatories welcome and support the creation of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) which has announced it will provide a free public ranking of major companies starting with particularly exposed sectors and based on information published through the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework and other public information from and about companies on human rights issues. We encourage companies to make proper disclosure under the UNGP Reporting Framework.”

The investor coalition is coordinated by
Boston Common Asset Management. Lauren Compere, Managing Director at Boston Common, said, “Investors want to protect value by knowing human rights risks are being monitored and managed by the companies they invest in. The CHRB is a critical tool, creating the analytical environment for investors to understand what good corporate human rights performance looks like. CHRB further supports the need for companies to use disclosure frameworks such as the UNGP Reporting Framework to know and show how they are respecting human rights.”

Steve Waygood, Chair of the CHRB Steering Committee, added, “There is no question that human rights issues are material to the financial performance of some companies. This statement once again signals a desire by investors to drive improved corporate human rights performance around the world through greater accessibility of transparent information and performance ratings.”


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