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ESG Insights: Why Social Performance and Human Rights Advisory are key

Karin Nunan Senior Principal
Karin Nunan

Karin specialises in Social Performance and ESG and Risk Advisory. She has 26 years of experience offering a wide range of consulting services in the fields of environmental and social performance and providing thought leadership contributing to the global dialogue on sustainability, social impact, human rights, SDGs, and governance. She helps companies build strong ESG performance to achieve greater operational efficiency and productivity, while improving employee morale, consumer brand loyalty, investor trust and enhanced access to capital.

Karin specialises in sustainable finance and has acted as principal-in-charge on 50+ global ESIA and ESDD projects across various geographies and sectors, while also lending her technical expertise to social impact, human rights, resettlement, community affairs, indigenous engagement, and labour conditions. Her broad range of clientele includes oil and gas (up-, mid-, and down-stream), power (conventional and renewables), manufacturing, mining, utilities, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and chemicals.

Whether framed as corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or the management of social and human capital, Social Performance and Human Rights are integral components to sound Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices.  Companies are facing an increasingly complex and interconnected world that impacts their business, including their supply chains. The proactive management of Social Performance and Human Rights not only reduces a gamut of risk but helps companies achieve greater operational productivity, employee morale, consumer brand loyalty, investor trust and enhanced access to capital.

Social Performance and Human Rights management is critical whether for a capital development project, a transaction, or general organisational management. For example: Proactive community engagement and informed consent with Indigenous populations provides social license to operate. Mapping and understanding supply chains mitigates risk of modern slavery and child labor. Conducting labor and working condition assessments improves worker health, safety and morale and prevents unnecessary operational delays. Multi-party dialogue and broad stakeholder engagement promotes transparency and equity.    

On social and human rights issues, companies are being held more accountable by consumers, investors and shareholders to better manage their impacts. The publication of the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011 provided a clear articulation of society’s expectations of corporate social and human rights performance and launched the management of these issues into the boardroom. Since that time, countries have continued to pass new legislation and laws (e.g. UK Modern Slavery Act, French Duty of Vigilance law), third-party rating agencies have developed their own assessment criteria against which corporate policies and disclosures are graded (e.g. SASB), and industry initiatives have forced greater transparency (e.g. Equator Principles 4).

The 2020 global health crisis, global population growth, and climate change have further brought the management of these issues into the mainstream.  However, it is also stakeholders themselves – workers, communities, Indigenous populations – who are driving the real change towards a more socially sustainable public and private sector.  Their voices are elevated through digital and social media, demanding companies and investments make decisions that not only increase profit and enhance competitiveness, but also protect human rights and make positive societal change.

How can we help?

Through experience, SLR knows that those who listen to the call for shared value, and act on it, achieve better business outcomes. We offer practical, fit-for-purpose, and implementable solutions to identify and manage Social Performance and Human Rights risks and impacts for your business. Knowing how to integrate these aspects into overall ESG management helps financial sector, corporate and public sector organisations reduce risk and unlock opportunities from the board room to boots on the ground. 

SLR’s Social Performance and Human Rights advisory tools cover:

  • Social Impact Assessment and Due Diligence;
  • Sustainability Benchmarking;
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UNGP Alignment;
  • Human Rights Impact Assessment and Due Diligence;
  • Community and Stakeholder Engagement;
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policies;
  • Reputational Risk Management;
  • Social Supply Chain Mapping;
  • Modern Slavery Reporting;
  • Strategic Community Investment Planning; and
  • Labor and Working Conditions Assessments.

For an initial conversation about how your business could improve its approach to Social Performance and Human Rights with our help, please get in touch.