Businesses thrive in stable, just and inclusive societies. Although governments have the primary duty to protect human rights, at times they cannot address the challenges alone, or are slow or unwilling to act.
In recent years, new threats to global peace and security have emerged, from shrinking civil society space to rising inequality and growing human displacement. To combat these urgent threats, The B Team and BSR have established the Business Action Platform for Human Rights. This platform will provide engagement options for business leaders and companies that wish to support and help protect human rights in the US and around the world. The platform will initially facilitate individual and collective business actions on US-based human rights issues, with a special focus on refugee and migrant rights.
By participating in the Business Action Platform for Human Rights, companies will be updated on urgent policy trends that impact business & human rights, receive support to engage individually or collectively in response to such trends and gain access to a peer network of companies and civil society partners through research provided by The B Team and BSR.
Businesses play a vital role in driving economic growth and development and can use this leverage to advocate for a policy environment that enables respect for human rights. Recent policy reversals and developments in the US demonstrate that threats to human rights not only hurt people, they hurt business. Ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is estimated to cost employers $6.3 billion in employee turnover. Similarly, the city of Indianapolis lost $60 million in revenue after state lawmakers passed a 2015 law which allowed anti-LGBT discrimination on religious grounds. In response to the law, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff ceased company travel to the state, which prompted other companies to take similar actions. These CEO-led efforts were instrumental in amending the law to prohibit business owners from discriminating against LGBT patrons.
The rise of CEO activism and corporate engagement on policy issues demonstrates the powerful voice and influence businesses have in helping protect human rights that are under threat. Despite this immense potential, business advocacy on human rights lags behind business advocacy on other issues. Business needs a robust collective action platform that enables leaders to speak out swiftly when human rights are under attack. This platform will also help build a community for business to more consistently and proactively engage on these topics.
Now, more than ever, the private sector has a unique opportunity to show leadership on human rights and mobilize for a just and inclusive future for all.