Michael Addo - Business and human rights indicators: Opportunities and challenges in measuring corporate respect for human rights

Author: Michael Addo (UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights) for Measuring Business & Human Rights, Published on: 14 March 2014

The relevance of business and human rights indicators cannot be overstated. Valid and reliable indicators could be useful to...track corporate progress over time and compare policies, process and impacts across corporations...Indicators may also operate as early-warning systems and make specific abuses visible...The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...support the argument that indicators are fundamental tools for corporations to meet their responsibility to respect human rights...The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights has confirmed the significance of indicators on several occasions...Measuring Business & Human Rights (MB&HR) identifies two fundamental challenges. Firstly, the challenge of how inadequate business and human rights indicators may contribute to ineffective measures of what is important and therefore poor policy guidance. Secondly, whilst indicators used by sustainability indices...or ratings...respond well to the UNGPs’ call for companies to ‘know and show’ that they manage their human rights impacts, they tend to be granular in nature and developed without sufficient transparency and participation. Such an approach to measurement can disempower those who use and rely on them...That MB&HR aims to trigger an evidence-based discussion on the challenges of producing and using indicators is a laudable objective that can help to identify best practices and bring transparency to an issue which is not only consequential, but also controversial. This project has immense potential and the UN Working Group looks forward to its findings.

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