Business and Human Rights: Evolution and Acceptance

This guide sets out the context for the importance of human rights issues and risks to business. The need for human rights due diligence is likely to become widespread in the near future and this briefing is designed to build knowledge and develop capability to help navigate their organisation through such risks.



This guidance is laid out in two sections. The first outlines how human rights has evolved as an important business issue, specifically through the introduction of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as outlining specific areas management accountants should both be considering and acting upon.


The second section outlines in more detail the acceptance of integrating human rights concerns into business operations and how organisations are applying and adapting the Guiding Principles according to their geographical, sectoral or operational remit. When considering actions to take, management accountants should take into account these influences.


As organisations currently conduct corruption due diligence, the need for human rights due diligence is likely to become widespread in the near future. The Guiding Principles detail how the UN Framework should be interpreted and provide top-level guidance on implementation. Organisations need to consider how the Guiding Principles are likely to impact on their corporate activities and value chains – it is imperative to have both risk assessment and routes to remedy in place.


It is globally accepted that organisations should consider and proactively assess the human rights impacts associated with their business actions, activities and relationships. Where relevant, they should address how they impact the lives of all their stakeholders, irrespective of the national laws where they operate.


A human rights due diligence process is intended to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how an organisation addresses its adverse human rights impacts. It is based on four key steps:


  1. Assessing actual and potential human rights impacts
  2. Integrating and acting on the findings
  3. Tracking responses
  4. Communicating about how impacts are addressed


While management accountants may not be directly focused on conducting human rights due-diligence, they should be aware of what it is and its key role in identifying the organisation’s human rights risks and impacts. Finance professionals have an important obligation to ensure that their employers recognise the relevance of human rights in business, and that the success of their business operations should not come at the expense of the human rights of other people.


Click here to download the report from CIMA