More and more companies around the world are introducing human rights thinking into their business models. Pressures like public activism or legislation motivate companies to upgrade their basic corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments and adopt comprehensive human rights policies.
In 2019, the World Benchmarking Alliance released a Corporate Human Rights Benchmark that ranked 200 of the largest companies in the world based on indicators such as their level of transparency or the availability of grievance mechanisms. The highest ranked company was Adidas and among the lowest ranking companies were Costco, Starbucks, and Qualcomm.
In addition to international benchmarks, a rise in human rights and business curriculum has increased attention to corporate integration of human rights. Haas was one of the first business schools in the nation to establish a stand-alone human rights and business course, “Managing Human Rights in Business” (UGBA 192H/192T).
Taking UGBA 192H has helped me become more attentive to the corporate human rights practices (or lack thereof) that I observe in my everyday life, and I believe every student at Haas should learn about the intersection of human rights and business.
Here are 3 ways we could help Haas’s future professionals become more human rights-conscious:
1) Human Rights and Business Case Competitions
Human rights-focused case competitions can expose students to human rights thinking and key frameworks such as the United Nations Guiding Principles or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2) Human Rights-themed Programming
Informational webinars or career panels during Universal Human Rights Month (December) can bring in professional perspectives to inform and inspire students to be human rights advocates in the business space.
3) Human Rights and Business Curriculum
Introducing more human rights curriculum at Haas can better train students in human rights ideologies. Human rights policies are relevant to every business sector, from manufacturing to marketing to finance, so there is potential for every Haas class to introduce human rights teachings.
As corporations grow and expand globally, managing human rights risks has become more important. With simple, yet effective changes to student culture and curriculum, students, faculty, and staff at Haas can help contribute to a global business culture that views human rights as something to respect, rather than another risk to manage.
By Sara Cheung