34% of IBEX 35 companies evaluate compliance with human rights in their centers of activity

As we enter in 2018, the year of celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is a growing consensus on the need for all kind of organizations to advance these rights. The private sector action is essential.

However, and despite their growing commitment, in Spain we are facing a challenge between the large companies in our country. For example, 12 of the IBEX 35 companies already carry out human rights assessments at their work centers, which represents 34.28%.

Although the data presents a significant potential for improvement, it should be noted that it represents a very considerable increase with respect to 2016, when it stood at 22%. This is the result of an analysis carried out by the Spanish Network based on the sustainability reports of the companies that make up this stock market index, which shows that little quantitative information is still reported.

In fact, of the four areas defined in the Ten Principles of Global Compact – human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption – fundamental rights are the least worked by Spanish companies.

The Spanish Global Compact Network gives more details further and breaks down different elements that help to materialize the commitment of the business community to the application and dissemination of human rights. Internal awareness is one of them, because 19 of the 35 companies analyzed (54.3%) do not report any training in this area to their staff. This indicator is down from 45% last year. We must continue to insist on this issue in order to achieve global involvement.

However, it should be made clear that internal sensitivity is not sufficient. “This culture must also be transferred to the entire supply chain”,says Isabel Garro, general manager at Spanish Network. The large companies in our country are aware of this need, and 23 companies (one more than in 2016) are already analyzing the degree of commitment of their suppliers. Despite this, only 13 of them report on the impacts of their own activity on their supply chain.

Another indicator refers to grievance mechanisms: 57% of IBEX35 companies already provide information on this type of proceedings, as well as the number of complaints dealt with and resolved.

On the other hand, movements such as globalization are increasing the international presence of many companies, evidencing another risk: the violation of the rights of the indigenous population. Thus, while 29 of the 35 IBEX corporations have activities in countries with indigenous peoples, only 34% provide information about their impact on them.

The National Business and Human Rights Plan

In order to promote specific initiatives of the private sector in management of risks at the local level, last July Spain approved its National Plan on Businesses and Human Rights. It is a measure that we have been calling for years, due to the capacity of the business fabric to implement a cross-cutting culture favorable to this issue, "says Garro. In fact, the plan develops the due diligence process, which is the key part of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Without a doubt, the implementation of this roadmap among companies in our country will represent an important advance in the area of human rights, but the challenge is to transfer it to SMEs. 99% of the Spanish business community must participate in this process, we must provide incentives and facilities", concludes Garro.