The United Nations Global Compact is an initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalisation, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology, and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.
The UNGC and PRME put forth an Open Letter calling on academic institutions to educate future managers and leaders on the first two principles, both derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The letter calls on schools to develop new courses and curricula around the topic of human rights. Academic Institutions are invited to sign the open letter through the Global Compact website.
The UN Global Compact has put together an incredible range of resources to assist companies in human rights, many of which can also be used by business schools, not only in CSR courses, but across all core courses. Here is a brief overview of just some of the resources available through the UN Global Compact and PRME around Human Rights.
The Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum is an online space aimed at stimulating discussion about dilemmas multi-national companies may face in their efforts to respect and support human rights, when operating in emerging economies. It holds a wide range of resources that can be used in the classroom, including dilemmas for discussion, case studies from UN Global Compact members and discussion boards, and even PowerPoint modules that can be used in training. The site covers a wide range of different topics within human rights including but not limited to forced labour, privacy, working hours, conflict minerals, and freedom of association.
Another resource is the Human Rights & Business Learning Tool. This is an online course aimed to help managers in companies to understand the importance and relevance of human rights. The course consists of five modules: an introduction to human rights, respecting and supporting human rights, complicity, and remedy, including dispute resolution. Each module includes text to read, links to additional information, and some questions that could be used in the classroom for discussion. Students could easily be directed to go through this material as part of a required or recommended element of a course.
Good Practice Notes are a series of short (5-20 page) documents that aim to identify practical solutions to commonly occurring human rights dilemma situations. They are not focused on any one company, but rather reflect the experiences and practices of a number of companies. Topics include Integrating Concern for Human Rights into the Mergers & Acquisition Due Diligence Process, How Business Can Encourage Governments to Fulfil their Human Rights Obligations, and Developing Corporate Human Rights Polities and the Role of Legal Counsel. These could easily be used as additional readings in a range of core courses.
If you are looking for some case studies, signatories of the Global Compact have put together a series of case studies on how specific companies have approached human rights, available for download through the site. They also provide a range of short webinars that could be used in the classroom, including the PRME Webinar on Human Rights and Business. The website additionally includes documents and readings around specific focus areas in human rights, such as reporting, grievance mechanisms, legal accountability, and guides for investors. Initiatives targeting topics such as water, children’s rights, and indigenous people’s rights also exist with a range of documents available for classroom use. For an overview of the entire collection, the UN Global Compact has a guidance document with the human rights materials they have produced, and suggestions on how to use them.
In March 2010, the UN Global Compact and UN Women launched the Women’s Empowerment Principles, aimed at helping the private sector focus on promoting gender equality in the workplace, marketplace, and community. In response to this, the PRME Working Group on Gender Equality, composed of a number of dedicated faculty, created the Gender Equality Resource Repository – a regularly updated web platform with teaching resources and case studies for integrating gender equality into a variety of disciplines, such as accounting, economics, marketing, and management.
– How have you incorporated Human Rights into the curriculum? What materials are you using? Share your experiences in the comments section below.-