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How to start within your company

How to monitor social aspects of doing business?

Which steps can you take when you start monitoring human rights in your companies international supply chain? The first step taken is to define the standards and principles. A company can do this by anchoring the standards and principles in the mission statement.

The standards can also be defined in a code of conduct, a collective labour agreement or another agreement (for instance regarding processes of offshore outsourcing or procurement policy) or by concluding an ‘International Framework Agreement’.

Not exclusion but improvement

If it is established that child labour occurs in the chain, then initiate a process by which children are removed from the labour process and provided with school education. This has a more sustainable effect than removing the producer in question from the chain because it does not conform to the standards. So the motto is not exclusion but improvement.

CNV applies 4 key elements

• Stakeholder involvement

For the application and monitoring of the standards, the CNV advocates involvement of social partners and other relevant social organisations, known as the stakeholders. These can include trade unions, other workers’ representational bodies (works councils), employers’ organisations, human rights organisations and environmental organisations.

• Transparency

Sometimes data are not available, meaning that it is difficult for a company to state whether the standards are being met. In such cases the guiding principle should be: state the facts as known, and also state what efforts are being made to meet the standards, linked to a realistic timeline. Be transparent about what has not (yet) been achieved.

• Communication/training

Workers as well as suppliers, customers, shareholders and supervisory board members should all be clearly informed about what CSR standards are applied and what the corporate policy is.

• Independent verification

All directly involved parties, such as workers, must be able to check the Corporate Social Responsibility policy against what happens in practice. Independent verification is not a purely technical matter. The independent verification should be carried out by an organisation that does not have links to the company.

10 Human Rights and Business priorities