No socially responsible company wants to be associated with negative human rights issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions and lack of freedom of association. Beyond managing risk, businesses that proactively invest in human rights contribute to a peaceful society and create conditions for inclusive prosperity.
Companies that respect human rights are sending a signal to consumers, investors and the public that they are a trustworthy brand and serious about sustainability. Incorporating the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact into strategies, policies and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, can also set the stage for long‑term success.
In the face of persistent inequalities, it is time for companies to step up their efforts to adopt and promote responsible business practices and advance the SDGs.
Responsible business leaders understand that stakeholder engagement is not just another tick-off exercise. They have taken crucial steps to engage and communicate through dialogue and partnership with all sectors, including governments and civil society organisations.
Last year, the government developed the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, the first-ever in Africa, through the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice. It is a comprehensive strategy for protecting against human rights abuses by businesses, whether private or government-owned.
The benefits of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights include fostering national dialogue, promoting progress on implementation, increasing awareness and understanding of business and human rights, as well as mobilising resources to facilitate the implementation of the Action Plan.
As we enter this crucial Decade of Action for the SDGs, we should aspire to empower everyone to know and claim their rights, which is critical in building a brighter, more sustainable and more inclusive future.