II- Businesses’ Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
Introduction [page 37]
… Given the complexity of this issue, companies must continue efforts to develop tools and good practices in the human rights field, at all levels of the production chain. Not only does this allow them to meet their obligations, it is also a key factor in their long-term viability and the image they project to investors and the public. To help companies, especially SMEs, manage this logistically and financially challenging process, a wide range of tools and support is available from actors in the public and private sectors. Most of these resources are free, publicly available and adaptable to business requirements …
Actions Underway [page 38]
- France is reinforcing training for employees on issues related to business and human rights.
- The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development issues advice for businesses operating in conflict zones and/or high-risk areas.
2. Training and Information for Businesses [page 39]
All staff members must be made aware of CSR. Because CSR involves protecting, developing and enhancing an organization’s human capital, it is dependent on training. Training is central to sustainable development, enabling people to adapt their skills to economic, professional and societal changes. Training efforts must also target appropriate populations.
Thanks to the implementation of innovative partnerships between the public, private and nonprofit sectors, regional movements are providing information, raising awareness, offering training and supporting actions to defend and promote human rights. Regional business networks are also committed to human rights, women’s rights and the rights of newcomers, workers, vulnerable populations, etc. These networks, which support multi-stakeholder dialogue and operations, develop tools and initiatives adapted to the needs of businesses (micro, small, medium and large enterprises) using cooperative approaches.
Existing tools and responsible practices [page 40]
- Entreprises pour les Droits de l’Homme (Businesses for Human Rights – EDH) is a non-profit organization bringing together 12 French businesses working in various sectors. It has developed an e-learning tool and one-day training programme on business and human rights for employees;
- The Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI) is a platform bringing together 18 businesses from various sectors operating in 190 countries. It organizes learning workshops where businesses can share knowledge on human rights issues: good practices, tools, challenges, etc.;
- Some businesses include human rights modules in sustainable development training programmes for directors. Others offer specific training to purchasers, human resources staff, legal staff, etc.
Actions Underway [page 39]
- Training efforts are being continued, especially in the fields of purchasing, employee representatives, etc.
- Measures may be examined with businesses to encourage adherence to rules on the products authorized for sale and consumption in countries that have ratified the UN Guiding Principles.
The Positions Adopted by the Different Groups of the National CSR Platform
Proposals by the Economic Group [page 61]
- Companies acknowledge their liability for harm caused over the course of their operations. However, they prefer measures such as voluntary initiatives and the sharing of good practices, despite the fact that State intervention may be necessary and justified in specific areas to ensure compliance with general French legal principles.
- Furthermore, the State should seek to promote homogenous initiatives and rules at the European and international levels.
- Companies are not in principle opposed to binding frameworks. They are opposed to enforcement mechanisms whose application would be purely punitive.