The COVID-19 crisis has exposed and exacerbated systemic weaknesses, inequalities and unacceptable practices throughout global value chains. With only ten years to go to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is clear, more than ever, that urgent change is needed if we are to realise the ambitions of the 2030 agenda.
Against this backdrop, the 2020 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark assesses the human rights disclosures of 230 global companies across five sectors identified as presenting a high risk of negative human rights impacts. These sectors are agricultural products, apparel, extractives, ICT manufacturing and, for the first time, automotive manufacturing.
The results show that there has been progress on previous years. A number of companies are meeting the fundamental expectations of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), with strong commitments and rigorous procedures in place. However, two significant challenges have emerged.
The first is that only a minority of companies demonstrate the willingness and commitment to take human rights seriously. The second challenge is arguably more pernicious and relates to the disconnect between commitments and processes on the one hand and actual performance and results on the other. If we are to achieve the SDGs by 2030, we need to ensure that strong commitments and management systems deliver their intended effects. Additionally, we need all companies to participate in this effort and to place people and planet above the pursuit of profit at all cost.
The automotive sector is the worst performing ever in the CHRB
The average score for automotive companies is 12%, the lowest score ever for a CHRB-benchmarked sector. Two thirds of the companies scored 0 across all human rights due diligence indicators. These poor results suggest implementation of the UNGPs is weak across the sector.
Too many companies are failing to meet investor expectations on human rights due diligence
In March 176 international investors sent a letter to the 95 companies that failed to score any points on the human rights due diligence indicators, calling for urgent improvement. Of those 95 companies, 79 continue to score 0 on human rights due diligence.
A just transition is undermined by a disconnect between human rights and climate issues
The automotive companies included in the 2020 CHRB were also assessed by the Climate and Energy Benchmark. When comparing both assessments, almost no correlation could be found between a company’s relative performance on either benchmark. In the coming decades, emissions-intensive sectors, such as automotive, face the major challenge of shifting to a net zero-carbon economy while upholding the central promise of the SDGs to leave no one behind.
Key findings report
In the key findings report we give a detailed briefing on the 2020 results. Find the key findings, overall results, the results by industry and more.