Companies in Action
Citigroup conducts human rights due diligence assessment and extends commitment to client transactions. Since the launch of its statement on human rights in 2007, Citi has made subsequent updates, engaging with stakeholders, conducting human risks analysis and due diligence and aligning with leading guidance, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The company is committed to respecting human rights across its operations and supply chain partners and extends this commitment into its financing and client transactions. The company uses its environmental and social risks management (ESRM) policy, launched in 2003, to assess and manage risks consistently and evaluate client projects against environmental and social standards, including human rights issues. The ESRM team screens transactions during the initial marketing phase—when the viability of deals is first being explored—to identify any potential risks. Since its development, Citi has updated its ESRM policy to include “Areas of High Caution”—Citi’s salient human rights risks—that require a closer due diligence approach. These include conflict risk, indigenous people, resettlements and critical habitats. Citi’s due diligence approach prioritizes addressing risks based on their severity relative to other human rights risks, in alignment with the UN Guiding Principles. The ESRM policy prohibits financing to any projects where the due diligence process has indicated a risk of harmful or exploitative forms of forced labor or child labor. Once an issue has been identified, Citi conducts a thorough review to understand the client’s commitment and capabilities to mitigate or avoid the impact. In 2019, the ESRM team screened a total of 557 transactions. Of those, 58 were flagged for additional due diligence for potential human rights risks. Going forward, Citi commits to identifying salient human rights risks in sectors beyond those usually reviewed through its ESRM policy.
HP Inc. establishes human rights council and strong due diligence process. Leading companies conduct regular human rights due diligence assessments to identify, measure and mitigate risks across the value chain and also actively disclose the details of management systems in place for responding to the issues identified. To strengthen the management of human rights issues across the company, in 2017 HP established a human rights council that is chaired by the head of HP's Human Rights Office and includes key members from the senior management team. The council meets twice a year to coordinate on due diligence and performance improvements relating to respecting human rights, along with approving the annual human rights assessment, which includes identification of salient risks and impacts. The company’s due diligence process looks to identify and address actual and potential issues across the value chain, following a risk-based approach commensurate to the severity and likelihood of the impact. As an example, in response to reports highlighting impacts with migrant workers, HP in 2014 developed the Foreign Migrant Worker Standard in partnership with nonprofit Verité to address the issue of forced labor among migrant workers, becoming the first company within the industry with such expectations.
Ford leads the auto industry in becoming the first company to conduct a human rights saliency assessment. Leading companies are realizing the importance of examining impact and risk from both the perspective of materiality (starting from a point of risk to business) and saliency (starting from a point of risk to people). Ford has long analyzed and reported on its human rights performance, conducting around 50 assessments since 2004. Responding to the growing calls for a focus on saliency, the company conducted its first saliency assessment in line with the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework in 2018. Building on this best practice, the company outlined the results of this assessment in its annual sustainability report, highlighting the 10 most salient human rights issues for the company and disclosing its action plans for addressing them.