What is human rights due diligence?
According to UN and OECD guidelines, businesses are expected to set up procedures and structures so that their activities do not have a negative impact on human rights. This applies throughout the value chain, and thus, as an example, makes companies co-responsible for how a supplier treats its employees.
The 6 steps of due diligence
The OECD guidelines for business enterprises follow a six-step model. Review them all and you will be on your way to taking a structured approach to addressing human rights in your value chain.
Due diligence is an ever-ongoing process resulting in improvements year after year. The goal is constant improvement and strengthening of the various steps in the process and the process becoming integral to your way of doing business.
Benefits from implementing due diligence for human rights
A vast majority of businesses want to act responsibly and contribute positively to society, but it can be difficult to know where to focus efforts. The process of performing active and systematic due diligence for human rights can clearly demonstrate all the good you are already doing – and identify areas where there may be room for improvement.
Create close supplier cooperation
Meet the expectations of others
Customers, media, employees, suppliers, public institutions, NGOs, and banks are increasingly interested in how company activities affect society, including human rights.
Track changes in legislation
Increase your competitive edge
See the big picture
Good advice as you prepare
- Create your own process: Creating a human rights policy is an important tool for setting the direction for your work and ensuring that the company commits to creating effective processes. However, it is not a requirement that you must create this policy right away. If articulating a formal policy feels like an overwhelming task, you may start by formulating a commitment stating that you have embarked on the journey. Once you have gained more insight through step 2, etc., you can return to the task of formulating the formal human rights policy.
- Identify risks for people – not for the company: Put on your human rights glasses and focus on where and how your activities affect people. This applies to your own employees, supplier employees, the population in local communities, customers, etc.
- Take a deep breath: Due diligence can seem overwhelming. Especially if you have many products and different suppliers. Our recommendation is that you take one area at a time, depending on your resources and capacity. This work is a process, and you will continually get better at it. The expectation is that you work with a clear focus and that you can document your choices, but no one expects you to be perfect or in control of all risks from day one.
- Talk to the world around you: Reach out to others and talk about your challenges. Talking to each other makes you wiser.
About this guide
This guide is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses in the food cluster, i.e., companies with between two and 250 employees working in agriculture and horticulture, fisheries, fish farming, agroindustry, food production and ingredients. Human rights due diligence is relevant whether you are in the B2C or B2B market, importing, exporting or have your own production in Denmark.
The guide was prepared by the Danish Initiative for Ethical Trade, in collaboration with the Danish Agriculture & Food Council and Arla Foods, and co-sponsored by the Danish Business Authority. The guide may not be changed, reproduced or translated without prior written permission from the Danish Initiative for Ethical Trade. If used in a teaching context, it must be with a clear acknowledgement of the partners behind the development of the guide, crediting them clearly, including use of relevant logos.