Growing investor-led pressure for consistent disclosure on human rights impacts

The GRI Perspective, the regular series exploring topical themes in the world of sustainability reporting has concluded that Stakeholder demands are reaffirming disclosures on human rights related impacts are central to how companies demonstrate accountability.

Better human rights reporting — needed now, but how? clearly highlights the way in which firms measure their actions related to human rights is becoming a core element of ESG reporting. Moreover, as new research from the Workforce Disclosure Initiative underlines, investors are concerned by discrepancies in what companies report on such risks.

In a major update to the Universal Standards, it has been recognized that all organizations using the GRI Standards are required to report in line with intergovernmental demands for human rights due diligence, as set by the UN and OECD. This is the first and only global reporting standards to do so.

“Human rights impacts are hugely important as they form the basis for wider reporting across the entire ESG spectrum. Yet measuring social data is complex. After all, it is easier to quantify a ton of carbon than place a value on human rights. That is why investors and other stakeholders are expecting companies to integrate human rights reporting into their policies, actions, strategy and risk assessment. Through our revised Universal Standards, which come in to effect for all GRI reporting from January next year, we have integrated transparency on human rights at the heart of sustainability reporting. This helps any organization using the GRI Standards to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights as well as emerging mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation.”

Harold Pauwels, Director of Standards

Launched in October last year, The GRI Universal Standards 2021 update includes developed human rights due diligence reporting, filling a previous void between intergovernmental expectations on business and human rights and the available reporting frameworks.

Thus, these modifications mean that disclosures on human rights impacts are now included unambiguously in the Universal Standards. This relates to all reporting organizations (rather than as a separate Topic Standard that a company is only required to report on if it determines it to be material).

The GRI Perspective have been published six times so far. This briefing series first released in 2022, covering themes such as stakeholder capitalism to the concept of materiality.

Source: GRI