Strategy & Operations » Governance » FTSE 100 human rights reporting declines despite risk rises

CONCERNS ARE GROWING that the UK’s top companies are undervaluing human rights reporting, following new research.

Undertaken by CIMA and released to mark International Human Rights Day, it found fewer FTSE 100 companies report on human rights actions, having fallen to 86% in 2015 compared to 97 out of 100 in 2014.

The study suggests the trend to report on human rights is reversing, despite most of the companies operating globally and in countries where human rights abuses are rife.

“The lack of detail around practical actions explains why human rights scandals continue to emerge so regularly,” said Tanya Barman, head of ethics at CIMA.

Companies in mobile tech and financial services are the worst culprits, the research found.

Impact and reputation

Although companies were aware of the importance of being seen to act correctly, there was still a lack of understanding of how it impacts value and reputation.

“Instilling ethical practices across a wider supply chain should be paramount for all businesses, not just those traditionally associated with low-cost overseas labour. The benefit being society prospers from an open and more transparent operating environment and businesses protect arguably two of their greatest intangible assets – their brand and reputation,” Barman said.

Companies are still not taking effective measures to regularly audit their suppliers and safeguard the labour rights of the employees in their extended labour chain, leading to activities which breach international law, CIMA said.

“Here in the UK with the Modern Slavery Act now in force for thousands of organisations, regulation along with stakeholder influence will hopefully provide the much needed change in approach, as companies cannot continue to operate business as usual when there is still a human cost at stake,” Barman added.