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10 Mar 2023

UN B-Tech project

UN B-Tech project launches Institutional Investor Business Model Tool for assessing human rights risks in tech companies

"HUMAN RIGHTS RISKS IN TECH: Engaging and Assessing Human Rights Risks Arising from Technology Company Business Models", 10 March 2023

Institutional investors can have a unique influence over technology companies’ governance and decision-making. This influence encompasses companies’ efforts to embed respect for human rights into their operations, products, and services. The B-Tech Project has produced this tool to help guide institutional investors’ engagement with technology companies on human rights risks linked to their business models (“business model-related human rights risks”).

This tool aims to equip investors to (1) accurately assess technology companies’ policies and procedures for addressing business model-related human rights risks; and (2) encourage technology companies to adopt approaches to such human rights risks that align with their responsibility to respect human rights.

The tool provides investors with questions to inform their engagement with boards and executives; these questions were developed with input from investors, companies, and civil society. It also embeds a simple evaluation framework to support investors in assessing the quality of company responses received to those questions.

This tool is designed primarily for use in scenarios involving institutional investors investing in technology companies—both public and private—that have surpassed the start-up and early growth stages of the business life cycle. While it is anticipated that institutional investors will be the primary users of this tool, it may also be of value for assessments by regulators and civil society, as well as for self-assessments by technology companies themselves.

B-Tech notes that this tool builds on crucial prior work done by peers at the intersection of investing, technology, and human rights, some of which is referenced in this document.