Global finance sector needs to start acknowledging its human rights responsibilities, argues professor

Author: David Kinley on openDemocracy, Published on: 25 April 2018

"Finance struggles to find a social conscience", 15 April 2018

The most remarkable thing about financier BlackRock CEO Larry Fink's latest letter exhorting corporate captains to develop a "social conscience" was [...] that it was news at all.

[I]s not his message precisely what all financiers and asset managers ought to be demanding all of the time from the businesses they invest in? ...[I]s it not precisely what the invested-in corporations ought to be delivering? Corporations must secure a reputational "social license" to operate, alongside their legal license of incorporation if they are to be commercially successful and sustainable. All investors should be demanding as much, and the rest of us should be expecting no less.

Yet in terms of respect for the rule of law, let alone social responsibility, the finance sector has a lamentable record...

Banks and other financial institutions still struggle to come to terms even with the relevancy of the language of human rights to their operations.

A 2017 discussion paper from one group of leading European banks (The Thun Group), distances financiers from any responsibility for human rights abuses of their clients unless the bank’s funding is “directly linked” to the rights-abusing action...

Yet, the finance sector has the capacity to enrich and reward the lives of many... [also refers to BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs]

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Related companies: Bank of America BlackRock BNP Paribas Credit Suisse Goldman Sachs HSBC JPMorgan Chase