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24 Apr 2024

Taking CTRL: Pathways to effective tech investor engagement

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Investors, including early-stage private capital investors, can help steer the direction of technological innovation, shape company priorities and practices, and ultimately facilitate technology’s impact on society, for better or worse. Investors have a responsibility, as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to conduct due diligence and address human rights impacts in their investment decisions. Meaningful stakeholder engagement with digital rights groups is a critical aspect of ensuring risk-responsive human rights due diligence for the tech sector - starting from the early investment stages, when problematic product designs or business models should be red-flagged.

When done properly, stakeholder engagement can be mutually beneficial for all parties involved. In the fight for digital rights, a strong network of allies within the investment community could have a significant impact on corporate behaviour within the tech sector. Civil society can also help investors to identify, assess, prevent and mitigate legal, operational and financial risks within their portfolios.

Despite the clear imperative for such engagement, activists and civil society organisations report critical challenges in contacting and interacting with investors. Over the past year, we have been engaging with digital rights groups and investors to better understand how we can improve stakeholder engagement efforts, and work better together to ensure that accountable digital technologies become the standard, rather than the exception.

If you are an investor, read our fact sheet "Investing in stakeholder engagement for improved digital technologies", which provides an overview of:

  • Why carry out stakeholder engagement?
  • Who are ‘affected stakeholders’ for the tech sector?
  • Is stakeholder engagement a compliance concern?
  • Are investors already engaging with digital rights groups?
  • What does meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders look like?
  • What can responsible investors do to ensure they are funding more rights-respecting technologies?

If you are a digital rights organisation interested in engaging with investors, read our analysis "Taking CTRL", which provides an overview of:

  • What are the key challenges for digital rights advocates in meaningfully engaging with investors?
  • What has worked when engaging with investors?
  • What else could we be asking of investors?
  • What are the main lessons learned thus far?
  • What are the pathways forward, for those interested in engaging with tech investors?

via Canva Pro

Taking CTRL: Pathways to effective investor engagement

We analysed survey results from 32 civil society organisations that work on digital rights issues and conducted interviews to deepen the analysis with a focus on experiences of activists from countries in the Global South.

Media Whale Stock via Canva

Investing in stakeholder engagement for improved digital technologies

How can investors improve their approach to stakeholder engagement and ensure they are funding more rights-respecting technologies? A short guide for investors.