The ENGAGING BUSINESS FORUM gathers top U.S. companies to discuss, learn and collaborate on international implementation of human rights. The goal of the meeting is to draw on the experience and knowledge of participants in helping to formulate practical business strategies which employers can use to identify and take action on the most pressing corporate responsibility issues.
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION
Beginning in the mid-1990s, there has been a steady rise in the expectation of companies to meet their corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights means acting with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others. In addition to complying with national laws, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights is a baseline expectation for all companies in all situations. Business leaders are working towards helping their companies implement a due diligence process that will prevent and avoid adverse human rights impacts.
In companies, ranging from clothing to food processing; from steel to electronics, reputational and business damage is arising from allegations relating to forced labor. With growing investment in and sourcing from developing country markets, business risk from forced and prison labor is increasing. Forced labor is therefore, a significant risk, requiring immediate business attention.
While much of child labor is part of subsistence level economic activity in the informal economy, a considerable portion occurs at the bottom end of global supply chains. Companies that invest in and source from developing countries are at risk of being implicated in the use of child labor. To uphold universal values and avoid complicity in child labor problems, companies must take into consideration the prevalence of child labor in the countries and sectors where they operate. They must actively manage the risk that child labor will occur somewhere along their supply chains.
Human trafficking can involve all forms of forced labor of men, women and children, including bonded labor, debt bondage, fraud, coercion, and other forms of modern slavery. Often it involves migration of legal workers—within a country and across borders—who have been misled by recruiters into assuming coercive debt and loss of their travel papers. The prohibition of human trafficking is a human right that requires immediate business human rights due diligence of supply chains by business, and mitigating action where it exists.