An Aditya Birla Group Commitment 27 WHY THINKING & TALKING ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS & SOCIETY Expert Opinion Expert Opinion All businesses want to remain sustainable in the long run and they want to do so by growing and thriving. For years, businesses have seen the idea of sustainability in a narrow sense - if the viability of their operations - the existing legal frameworks and reporting requirements have enabled such things. Thousands of companies are familiar with the notion that they should pursue profits without harming people or the planet. As environmental emissions become easier to measure and the notion of mitigation as well as of costs and benefits are widely understood, many companies are publicly reporting on their environmental performance. Reporting on human rights appears harder partly because in some cases the responsibility over specific impacts is diffused between the state and the company, and businesses view risk and impacts from the perspective of what happens to them, and not what happens to others because of their actions. Societal expectations, stock market reporting requirements, stakeholder demands, labour union questions, and consumer preferences are forcing change. Companies not only should know what they are doing but show what they are doing. The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights offers the framework for companies. The principles do not absolve the state - it has the obligation to protect human rights. But companies have the responsibility to respect human rights. And where protection gaps exist, there is need for fair and applicable remedies consistent with international standards. To do this, companies will need to have a human rights policy, assess risks and impact, take measures to eliminate and mitigate adverse impacts, make their policy is operational, and measure and monitor performance. Companies should also report their performance publicly and establish grievance mechanisms or remedies where appropriate in consultation with and with the consent of affected parties. Regardless of whether it is required legally, forward-thinking companies will want to be ahead of the curve. The agenda may appear to be new in India, but many companies around the world have now embraced the agenda and companies based in India with global ambitions should make this thinking part of their DNA for long term sustainability. Salil Tripathi Senior Adviser, Global Issues, Institute for Human Rights & Business