Human rights policy in Swiss companies: an overview

Human rights policy in Swiss companies: an overview

A new study examines how many Swiss corporations truly have a transparent human rights policy, one that also applies to its subsidiaries and suppliers. In this first, quantitative section 200 Swiss corporations were care fully examined the 100 largest publicly traded companies and the 100 largest privately held companies (Figures 2014). In a second section a qualitative analysis was carried out of the human rights policies of 14 firms that have recognized the UN Guiding Principles. Also examined was how the required due diligence for human rights was implemented in practice.
Few corporations take the UN Guiding Principles seriously. The quantitative results of the studies are sobering:
• 61.5 percent of the 200 corporations examined do not publish any reference to a human rights policy. There is neither information about due diligence as required by the UN Guiding Principles nor a code of conduct that addresses compliance with human rights standards with regards to subsidiaries or suppliers.

• 27.5 percent of the companies publish a code of con-duct for their firms and for business relations with important suppliers.

• 11 percent of the businesses examined subscribe to
the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

• 8 of 22 companies with a comprehensive human rights policy are subsidiaries of foreign corporations. That leaves only 14 companies headquartered in Switzerland that have independent human rights policies modeled after the UN Guiding Principles.

• Publicly traded companies are more likely to have binding policies than privately held businesses: 19 of 22 corporations that had comprehensive human rights policies were traded on the stock exchange.

• The majority of the companies that have recognised the UN Guiding Principles and in part implemented them, have been under public pressure in recent years, accused of violating human rights or causing grave environmental damage.

Read the full study

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