Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 289–299 | Cite as

Business Policies on Human Rights: An Analysis of Their Content and Prevalence Among FTSE 100 Firms

Article

Abstract

The new millennium has witnessed a growing concern over the impact of multinational enterprises (MNEs) on human rights. Hence, this article explores (1) how wide-spread corporate policies on human rights are amongst large corporations, specifically the FTSE 100 constituent firms, (2) whether any sectors are particularly active in designing human rights policies and (3) where corporations have adopted such policies what their content is. In terms of adoption rates of human rights policies, evidence of exemplary approaches in individual companies contrasts with a less satisfactory engagement pattern across the sample, as 42.8% of firms do not seem to address human rights at all. With regard to the content of corporate human rights policies, the study found shallow commitments to dominate, where companies focus on a narrow range of negative rights, i.e. on respecting human rights, rather than positive ones, i.e. initiatives to protect or fulfil human rights.

Keywords

Human rights Corporate social responsibility Multi-national enterprises UN Declaration of Human Rights 

References

  1. Avery, C. L. (2000). Business and human rights in a time of change. London: Amnesty International.Google Scholar
  2. BitC. (2010). Corporate Responsibility Index 2010. London: Business in the Community. http://media.ft.com/cms/def0bcbe-7252-11df-9f82-00144feabdc0.pdf.
  3. Blowfield, M. (2002). ETI: A multi-stakeholder approach. In R. Jenkins, R. Pearson, & G. Seyfang (Eds.), Corporate responsibility and labour rights: Codes of conduct in the global economy (pp. 184–195). London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  4. Bondy, K., Matten, D., & Moon, J. (2004). The adoption of voluntary codes of conduct in MNCs: A three-country comparative study. Business and Society Review, 109(4), 449–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carasco, E. F., & Singh, J. B. (2008). Human rights in global business ethics codes. Business and Society Review, 113(3), 347–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cassel, D. (2001). Human rights and business responsibilities in the global marketplace. Business Ethics Quarterly, 11(2), 261–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Donnelly, J. (1985). The concept of human rights. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  8. Donnelly, J. (1998). Human rights: A new standard of civilization? International Affairs, 74(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Donnelly, J. (2003). Universal human rights in theory and practice (2nd ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dworkin, R. (1977). Taking rights seriously. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Eikhof, D. R., Haunschild, A., & Warhurst, C. (2007). Introduction: What work? What life? What balance? Critical reflections on the work-life balance debate. Employee Relations, 29(4), 325–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Erwin, P. M. (2011). Corporate codes of conduct: The effects of code content and quality on ethical performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(4), 535–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feinberg, J. (1970). The nature and value of rights. Journal of Value Inquiry, 4(4), 243–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frankental, P. (2002). The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a corporate code of conduct. Business Ethics: A European Review, 11(2), 129–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fussler, C., Cramer, A., & van der Vegt, S. (2004). Raising the bar: Creating value with the United Nations Global Compact. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  16. Gewirth, A. (1982). Human rights: Essays on justification and applications. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. GRI. (2006). Sustainability reporting guidelines, version 3.0. Amsterdam: Global Reporting Initiative.Google Scholar
  18. Holliday, I. (2005). Doing business with rights violating regimes: Corporate social responsibility and Myanmar’s Military Junta. Journal of Business Ethics, 61(4), 329–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ICC. (2008). ICC views on business and human rights. Paris: International Chamber of Commerce.Google Scholar
  20. Ishay, M. R. (2008). The history of human rights: From ancient times to the globalization era. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Jerbi, S. (2009). Business and human rights at the UN: What might happen next? Human Rights Quarterly, 31(2), 299–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kaptein, M. (2004). Business codes of multinational firms: What do they say? Journal of Business Ethics, 50(1), 13–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kolk, A., & van Tulder, R. (2004). Ethics in international business: Multinational approaches to child labor. Journal of World Business, 39(1), 49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Leipziger, D. (2010). The corporate responsibility code book (2nd ed.). Sheffield: Greenleaf.Google Scholar
  25. Leisinger, K. M. (2006). Human rights: A business duty? In M. Keiner (Ed.), The future of sustainability (pp. 117–151). Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Locke, J. (1690/1980). Second treatise of government: An essay concerning the true original extent and end of civil government. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.Google Scholar
  27. Lugli, E., Kocollari, U., & Nigrisoli, C. (2009). The codes of ethics of S&P/MIB Italian companies: An investigation of their contents and the main factors that influence their adoption. Journal of Business Ethics, 84(1), 33–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Maconachie, R. (2009). Diamonds, governance and ‘local’ development in post-conflict Sierra Leone: Lessons for artisanal and small-scale mining in Sub-Saharan Africa? Resources Policy, 34(1/2), 71–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mertus, J. A. (2009). The United Nations and human rights: A guide for a new era (2nd ed.). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Meyer, W. H. (1996). Human rights and MNCs: Theory versus quantitative analysis. Human Rights Quarterly, 18(2), 368–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Monshipouri, M., Welch, C. E., & Kennedy, E. T. (2003). Multinational corporations and the ethics of global responsibility: Problems and possibilities. Human Rights Quarterly, 25(4), 965–989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Muchlinski, P. T. (2001). Human rights and multinationals: Is there a problem? International Affairs, 77(1), 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nickel, J. W. (2007). Making sense of human rights (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  34. OECD. (2001). Codes of corporate conduct: Expanded review of their contents. Working papers on international investment number 2001/6. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Directorate for Financial, Fiscal and enterprise affairs, Paris.Google Scholar
  35. OHCHR and UNGC. (2007). Human rights and business learning tool. New York: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva and UN Global Compact Office. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/HR_Learning.htm.
  36. ONS. (2007). UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities 2007 (SIC 2007). Basingstoke: Office for National Statistics Newport, Wales and Palgrave.Google Scholar
  37. Preuss, L. (2009). Ethical sourcing codes of large UK-based corporations: Prevalence, content, limitations. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(4), 735–747.Google Scholar
  38. Preuss, L. (2010). Codes of conduct in organisational context: From cascade to lattice-work of codes. Journal of Business Ethics, 94(4), 471–487.Google Scholar
  39. Rawls, J. (1993). The law of the peoples. In S. Shute & S. Hurley (Eds.), On human rights (pp. 41–82). New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  40. Rorty, R. (1993). Human rights, rationality, and sentimentality. In S. Shute & S. Hurley (Eds.), On human rights (pp. 111–134). New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  41. Smith, C., & Pun, N. (2006). The dormitory labour regime in China as a site for control and resistance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 17(8), 1456–1470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. SRSG. (2008). Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights. New York, NY: Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises. http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G08/128/61/PDF/G0812861.pdf?OpenElement.
  43. Sullivan, R. (2003). Introduction. In R. Sullivan (Ed.), Business and human rights: Dilemmas and solutions (pp. 13–20). Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  44. Sullivan, R., & Seppala, N. (2003). From the inside out: A management perspective on human rights. In R. Sullivan (Ed.), Business and human rights: Dilemmas and solutions (pp. 102–112). Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  45. Twiss, S. B. (2004). History, human rights, and globalization. The Journal of Religious Ethics, 32(1), 39–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. UNDP. (2000). Human Development Report 2000: Human Rights and Human Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2000_EN.pdf.
  47. Weissbrodt, D., & Kruger, M. (2003). Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights. American Journal of International Law, 97(4), 901–922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wettstein, F. (2009). Multinational corporations and global justice: Human rights obligations of a quasi-governmental institution. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Wettstein, F. (2010). The duty to protect: Corporate complicity, political responsibility, and human rights advocacy. Journal of Business Ethics, 96(1), 33–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wood, G. (2000). A cross cultural comparison of the content of codes of ethics: USA, Canada and Australia. Journal of Business Ethics, 25(4), 287–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. World Bank. (2003). Company codes of conduct and international standards: An analytical comparison, Vol. 1: Apparel, footwear and light manufacturing, agribusiness, tourism. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Management, Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonEgham, SurreyUK

Personalised recommendations