Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is a results-driven process whereby a company assumes responsibility across all its business operations for the social, ecological and economic consequences of its activities. A company is accountable and transparent towards its stakeholders when it comes to behaving in a socially responsible manner.
The international normative framework for RBC
The OECD Guidelines provide a general framework upon which multinational companies are expected to develop their policies and practices. They are the most comprehensive set of government-backed recommendations on responsible business conduct in existence today. The OECD Guidelines contain far-reaching recommendations endorsed by governments for multinational enterprises operating in or from member countries.
The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) provide a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts linked to business activity on human rights. The UNGPs contain very specific guidelines for actions that should be taken, not just by companies but also by governments, to respect (in the case of companies) and protect (in the case of governments) human rights in relation to business activity
Risk-based due diligence
Governments adhering to the OECD Guidelines and/or UNGPs expect companies established in their country to carry out risk-based due diligence: “to identify, prevent and mitigate actual and potential adverse impacts” on all matters covered by the guidelines (e.g. human rights, environment, labour rights). Due diligence implies more than just an assessment of risks for the company, the purpose is to understand and address risks and abuses that the company’s activities pose to rights holders, including in its supply chain and through its other business relationships. Companies are also expected to be transparent about the specific measures they have taken to prevent or mitigate each of those risks and impacts. The 2018 OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct provides practical support to enterprises on the implementation of the OECD Guidelines.
For an overview of Business and Human Rights legislation and legal cases worldwide, please visit BHRinlaw.org.