Another opportunity relates to companies’ IT systems. “These kinds of companies spend big on tech – and tech can contribute to human rights breaches,” Dr Sheehan said. “For example, payment of remediation to wronged customers could be delayed due to outdated or unsuitable software. If companies adopt a human rights focus, IT systems can be prioritised to this end.”
Finally, one simple way to ensure that human rights risk isn’t being overlooked lies in the first line of defence: companies can provide training on human rights to front line staff and lower levels of management on what human risks look like and how to address them. “But for that to happen,” adds Dr Sheehan, “there must be human rights buy-in at the highest levels of management “.
“During the worst of COVID-19, financial companies proved that they are willing and able to speedily adapt to changing societal demands,” Professor Kinley said. “With human rights, the real challenge is persuading these companies to recognise that they are material – not marginal – to their core business interests.”