I'm excited to welcome you on a brief journey into the intersection of business, human rights, and the transformative power of data. In this blog, we'll uncover how data can emerge as a driving force in shaping accountability and transparency in the realm of human rights.
A Decade of Transformation: From Norms to Data
Cast your mind back to 2011 – a year of significant change. It marked the launch of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, setting the stage for a new global standard. These principles urged businesses to take proactive measures against the adverse impacts associated with their activities. This pivotal moment initiated what we now recognize as a decade of norms, where international organizations and governmental agencies united to encourage businesses to prioritize human rights and transparency.
Simultaneously, a parallel transformation unfolded – what I call the decade of data.
OECD countries introduced mandatory human rights disclosure regulations, steering businesses toward adopting impact assessment frameworks. These frameworks, essential to crafting a solid social and human capital strategy, continue to open doors to understanding operational footprints and fostering relationships with suppliers, customers, and partners.
A New Era: Knowledge Platforms and Metrics
Within this transformative landscape, knowledge platforms emerged as invaluable tools. They facilitated the collection and visualization of a diverse range of metrics. From event-based indicators that enabled predictive analysis to survey-based measures that tracked the evolution of at-risk populations, digital platforms became the bedrock for addressing human rights abuses with data-driven solutions.
Human Rights: A Multidisciplinary Endeavor
Human rights encompasses various disciplines – public health, international law, forensic studies, community relations, and public policy. Rooted in “social science measurement,” advocacy groups, NGOs, and multilateral organizations have primarily championed this realm. Their unwavering efforts aim to combat human rights violations in conflict zones and global supply chains.
Data: A Path to Sustainable Progress
Fast-forward to 2015, a year that marked a defining moment. The United Nations General Assembly ratified the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, heralding the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) birth. Here, businesses and investors were beckoned to assess the alignment of their practices with measurable outcomes that drive SDG attainment. The objective extended beyond compliance, emphasizing tangible impact.
Navigating the Data Landscape: Key Questions
As we navigate this landscape, pivotal questions arise:
What human rights data holds credibility and statistical significance?
Is the available data genuinely supportive of organizations striving for social sustainability?
Crucially, who benefits from the human rights data currently in use?
In essence, data is not merely a tool, but a catalyst for profound change. Metrics transcend numerical values, paving the way for a brighter global future.
My book The Impact Challenge – available in open source - further explores the intersection of data and human rights as it continues to influence the world of business and community.