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Article One’s Summer Reading List

September 20, 2020



By Alyssa Ofstein

This summer, many of us have had to face challenging, uncertain, and strange days. As we cope with both stagnation and rapid change during a year of global hardship, reading articles can provide a way to process what is going on in the world around us. With this in mind, we are pleased to share with you recent bodies of work that have enlightened our thinking, reinvigorated our commitment to do the work we do, and given us new perspectives for reflection.

1. Four years ago, Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. In 2020, corporate responses to BLM protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd have marked an unprecedented level of engagement. For those looking to learn more about how your company can combat systemic racism, a great place to start is by learning from peers. Just Capital published a detailed list of Corporate Responses to the George Floyd Protests That Stand Out. We recommend reading the piece with a companion article by Just Capital with guidance on What Companies Can Do to Combat Systemic Racism Against Black Colleagues in the Workplace.

2. In June, UNICEF, NBIM, and Article One published the Children’s Rights in the Garment and Footwear Supply Chain guidance tool, which is designed to support companies in the garment and footwear industries with integrating child rights into their responsible sourcing programs. We recommend the guide to anyone working in the apparel sector who is keen to take practical measures to advance respect for children’s rights throughout company supply chains and to those looking to learn from the garment and footwear industries.

3. As the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRD) writes in The Compounding Impacts of COVID-19 on Migrant Workers Across Asia, “the coronavirus crisis has brought issues of inequality and injustice in society into the spotlight.” We appreciate how comprehensive this report is, covering the impacts of racism, quarantine orders, travel restrictions, and job losses, as well as how the intersections of these vulnerabilities have fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of migrant workers. We recommend the report for leaders who champion worker rights in industries that rely on migrant workers, such as agriculture, apparel, and hospitality.

4. For Article One, 2020 has been shaped by our new Responsible Innovation Practice. We are excited to expand our thinking on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector with B-Tech’s recent paper, Addressing Business Model Related Human Rights Risks. B-Tech reimagines how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can be used a tool to avoid embedding human rights risks in ICT business models. We recommend this paper for tech company strategists who may not traditionally be involved in the business and human rights space, including Board directors, executives, entrepreneurs, founders, and investors.

5. In 2018, Article One partnered with Facebook to conduct country-level human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. This year, Facebook published the executive summaries of our findings, alongside BSR’s findings from its 2018 HRIA of Facebook in Cambodia. If you’re interested in the challenges of human rights due diligence for social media companies or you are working on a team that has conducted its own HRIAs, we recommend these executive summaries as leading practice for publishing due diligence processes and learnings and advancing transparency in the human rights field.

6. As governments and companies are grappling with how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, human rights groups have raised the importance of balancing the rights to health and privacy. In their article, Privacy and Public Health: the Dos and Don’ts for COVID-19, AccessNow breaks down the benefits and limitations of using technology to track the spread of COVID-19. The article provides an actionable list of considerations to ensure the right to privacy is respected. We recommend reading it with a case example from Front Line Defenders on the current plight of Human Rights Defenders, who are challenging privacy, and freedom of expression, assembly and movement issues head on. Defending rights during a pandemic: Impact of COVID-19 on the Safety and Work of Human Right Defenders provides global perspective on these challenges, and is informative for both companies and stakeholders reliant on the work of HRDs.

7. As we begin to chart a path for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe using human rights as a lens to develop response strategies can support comprehensive risk mitigation. The UN Development Programme inspired us with its recent guide for companies on How Business can Apply a Human Rights Lens to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery and complimentary COVID-19 Self-Assessment. The UNDP’s guidance breaks human rights into operational groups in a way that can easily be disseminated throughout a company to its relevant functions. For a deep dive on recovery approaches to the pandemic, we recommend the International Organization for Migration’s guide on Promoting Responsible Recovery: Detecting, Mitigating & Remediating Modern Slavery in Supply Chains. We find the brief helpful for stakeholders creating recovery action plans, especially for teams working on procurement and supply chain sustainability. Like the IOM, we are hopeful that from this incredible time of hardship, those of us working in the business and human rights space can both remediate harm endured by rightsholders and also advance corporate respect for human rights.

We hope you stay well over your summer holidays, rest, and return restored to navigate the new challenges emerging in the field of business and human rights.