Investing in supplier human rights due diligence (HRDD) isn't just the ethical choice, with increasing mandatory HRDD regulations coming into effect, getting ahead of the curve when it comes to HRDD, it is also smart business. Supplier HRDD strengthens your brand, mitigates risks, and fosters long-term trust with stakeholders. But getting started can be overwhelming. Here are 5 tips to get you started on your HRDD journey:
1) Start with "Why" do we need HRDD?
Defining the purpose will guide your approach and support stakeholder engagement. Key questions to ask include: is it driven by legal compliance, brand values, or long-term sustainability? Once you have established “Why”, next steps will be engaging and training implementation stakeholders:
- Leadership commitment: Secure endorsement from top executives to demonstrate the priority of human rights due diligence (HRDD).
- Internal awareness: Educate relevant employees, from procurement to purchasing, about human rights risks and HRDD processes.
- Supplier engagement: Start dialogue with suppliers to explain your HRDD expectations and encourage their cooperation.
2) Map Your Risk Landscape:
Identify high-risk areas in your supply chain based on geography, industry, and product type to implement a risk-based approach:
- Identifying critical suppliers: Focus on suppliers with high inherent human rights risks or those supplying vital materials/services.
- Go through a mapping exercise: Create a visual representation of your supply chain, including tiers and supplier locations.
- Data gathering: Collect information from suppliers through questionnaires, site visits, and third-party assessments.
Bonus tip: Leverage existing tools and resources! The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Shift Initiative, and various industry-specific frameworks offer valuable support.
3) Engage, Don't Dictate:
Collaboration is key to successful HRDD implementation, and when needed for remediation. Partner with suppliers, NGOs, and industry experts to develop shared understanding and effective solutions. Listen to their concerns and build trust.
- Collaboration: Work with suppliers to address identified human rights issues through corrective action plans.
- Leverage existing mechanisms: Utilize grievance mechanisms for workers to report concerns and seek redress.
- Seek external support: Utilize resources and expertise from NGOs, consultancies, and industry associations.
4) Start Small, Scale smart:
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Pilot your HRDD program with a few strategically chosen tier 1 suppliers. Learn from your experience and scale up gradually to ensure effectiveness.
- Monitor and evaluate: Regularly assess the effectiveness of your HRDD program and identify areas for improvement.
- Adapt and update: Integrate lessons learned and adjust your approach based on changing risks and regulations.
5) Communicate and Celebrate:
After all the hard work put in by yourself and your stakeholders make sure to share your HRDD journey with stakeholders, showcasing both challenges and successes.
- Transparency and reporting: Publicly disclose progress and challenges encountered in your HRDD efforts.
HRDD is a continuous journey, not a one-time fix. By embracing these tips, you can create an impactful program that protects people and empowers your business.