Companies failing to ensure human rights

July 3rd, 2024

The majority of the world’s 2,000 most influential companies are failing to ensure human rights, decent work and ethical conduct.

The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) has published its Social Benchmark, which found 90% of the SDG2000, the world’s 2,000 most influential companies, are less than halfway to meeting fundamental societal expectations on respecting human rights, providing decent work, and acting ethically.

The companies include some of the largest apparel and food brands and employ 95 million people directly while generating revenue equivalent to 45% of global GDP.

The report found that only 4% of the companies assessed had a target to pay their workers a living wage, 3% comply with the International Labour Organisation’s standards on working hours and just 2% disclose their global pay gap.

Further, just 20% conduct some steps of human rights due diligence, with 29% monitoring the health and safety of their suppliers’ workplaces and only 9% show how they consult workers or communities who are affected by their operations.

The WBA noted that while the overall performance of the 2,000 companies was poor, certain sectors on average performed relatively better, such as the ICT sector, which scored the highest in terms of acting ethically.

The alliance also urged companies to engage with affected stakeholders to improve their human rights and decent work practices.

Namit Agarwal, social transformation lead at the WBA, said: “The SDG2000 companies have resources and influence equivalent to some of the biggest countries, impacting more people than the populations of many nations. The fact that 90% of these companies are failing to act on fundamental social expectations shows the state of play of the private sector.”

Last Updated: 4 July 2024