Scholar-practitioner Marcy Murninghan’s latest article on the Murninghan Post offers a compelling overview of the advancement of human rights and how they tie in to corporate governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

On June 16th the United Nations Human Rights Commission (HRC) endorsed the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.  Harvard professor John Ruggie first proposed these guidelines for how multinationals should approach the thorny issue of basic human dignity.

For far too long, CSR has focused on the environment.  That is easy to understand, as the focus on metrics makes it easy to quantify a firm’s carbon output or percentage of materials recycled.  That low-hanging fruit should have been picked long ago.  But human beings cannot be recycled, and while it is commendable to disclose what a company has done for its diversity or employees’ health and well-being, another group has been largely invisible.  I am talking about the countless of workers throughout a supply chain who toil long hours, have few rights, and have suffered abuse to an extent that few of us can wrap our heads around.  Now the hard part begins, as companies must answer their stakeholders’ piqued interest in labor and human-rights related issues--it will be difficult fruit to pick and full of lemons that some executive suites will be loathe . . . to disclose.

Human rights are not a separate issue, however, and to that end, Murninghan reminds us that:

We hope that firms respond to the Guiding Principles without segregating human rights into a separate category.

Whether you call it CSR or ESG (environmental, social and governance), or CSI (common sense and integrity), the Ruggie Principles are a hugely important step in the right direction.  Read Murninghan’s entire post here.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.