A new article from Lisa Beth Lentini Walker, CEO of Lumen Worldwide Endeavors, reminds us of the importance of human rights in supply chains even in this period of global economic uncertainty. Lisa Beth quotes PracticalESG.com Advisory Board member Doug Chia on investor focus on the topic:
…’human rights issues in supply chains have long been major concerns for faith-based investors and SRIs [socially responsible investors], with little attention paid by others. But because of today’s global supply chain failures, geopolitical environment, and focus on systemic risks, the largest institutional investors need to be more attuned to human rights in supply chains from a governance perspective. The Russian invasion of Ukraine drives this home with an exclamation point!’
Lisa Beth also hones in on the role of compliance professionals, who are:
…uniquely positioned to help in taking a risk-based approach to identifying risks, developing clear and concise frameworks to safeguard human rights throughout the value chain, training and raising awareness, auditing, monitoring, escalating issues, and working toward remediation and accountability through reporting. As compliance and ethics professionals continue to be engaged in support and leadership of ESG initiatives, using structures such as third-party risk management to yield better outcomes should be a first step toward improving the underlying framework and controls in alignment with stated organizational values.
Her takeaways are concise and practical advice for anyone involved in compliance as well as procurement and supply chain management:
- Knowing your direct supplier is only a small fraction of the story.
- Human rights due diligence is becoming an increasing expectation for all third-party interactions.
- Regulations regarding human rights have been in place, but there is momentum for the enforcement of those laws.
- Any industry that uses humans in the supply chain should be aware of and monitoring for human rights.
- As a compliance professional, it is critical that you have human rights on your radar as both an ethical matter and a regulatory matter for consideration.
In addition, it is probably not a good look – and may create legal risks – if compliance professionals are not deeply involved in programs and activities directly related to high visibility ethical procurement standards and contractual compliance matters.