Human Rights – A Corporate Responsibility?

Ronald Fagerfjäll Peter Frankental Frances House

Are companies only responsible to shareholders, or do their responsibilities also extend to other stakeholders – employees, sub-contractors, consumer groups, NGOs, or foreign governments, communities and populations in the countries where they operate?

The influence of companies on the global economy is steadily growing, and so is the impact their presence has on the communities where they do business. As a result of these developments, companies face dramatically higher expectations. More and more, the international community sees protection of human rights as an essential condition for a company’s licence to operate on the international market.

Following a number of cases that have rightly drawn unfavourable attention, with serious consequences for their reputation, brand names and share prices, major transnational corporations such as Shell, Nike, Rio Tinto and Levi Strauss have been compelled to rethink their strategies and broaden their agenda. Swedish companies are still lagging behind in this area.

Human Rights – A Corporate Responsibility? describes in practical detail how companies can tackle the fundamental human rights issues, with case studies illustrating the action taken by Swedish and foreign TNCs in response to these concerns.