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6 Nov 2015

Michael A. Santoro, Rutgers Business School (USA)

UN Forum Series Blog: How Numbers Can Become the Lingua Franca of Business and Human Rights

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Measurement is critical to enabling outside stakeholders...to assess the extent to which companies are in fact achieving responsibility for protecting human rights...In addition to its role in fostering “outside-in” accountability, the Working Group report acknowledges that measurement is also an indispensable “inside–out” management tool...[H]uman rights advocates will have to develop a set of numbers that have the same clarity and motivational impact as traditional business “bottom line” measurements...Another important point to bear in mind is that until managers are compensated for their human rights impacts as well as their impact on traditional bottom line financial performance, corporate responsibility for human rights will remain an “outside-in” matter of accountability imposed by external stakeholders...BHR measurement tools must become an important component of how executives are compensated by boards of directors...Human rights advocates and business executives often seem to be talking different languages. Measurement and numbers hold forth the possibility of becoming the lingua franca of business and human rights. When those seeking to hold companies accountable for human rights impacts from “outside in” begin to speak in the same language as business executives managing a company from “inside out” then we will be at a point where the UN Guiding Principles can move to the next stage of widespread acceptance and implementation...[Refers to Novartis, Puma]