Sponsorship and Participation in Conference on CSR and Risk Management
In the second half of the 20th century, corporations in developed nations became increasingly multinational while developing countries experienced growing problems with environmental pollution and illegal labor practices. These problems have come to be recognized as a global issue, which has led to a growing social awareness of corporate social responsibility and sustainability that includes the value chain. Consequently, human rights due diligence, which involves the continuous implementation of measures to identify, evaluate, prevent and redress any human rights risks linked to a company's business activities, has recently been receiving attention in Japan. At KDDI, the human rights of every stakeholder are recognized as an important issue.
As part of the response to these issues, KDDI sponsored and participated in the Conference on CSR and Risk Management organized by Caux Round Table Japan and the United Nations Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises in September 2013. At the conference, discussions were held on how corporations should address human rights due diligence issues through CSR risk management.
A seminar was held on the "Guiding Principles for Implementation of the UN 'Protection, Respect, and Remedy' Framework for Business and Human Rights," which are incorporated in various CSR guidelines as an effective tool for implementing CSR risk management. The speaker, who is a member of the United Nations Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, which is tasked with putting the framework into practice, offered concrete advice on applying the guiding principles to CSR risk for corporations.
Role of Corporations in Human Rights
In a lecture on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (informally known as the "Ruggie Report"), which were endorsed by the United Nations in 2011, participants learned a key principle, which states: "Human rights are the inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because he or she is a human being. Therefore, human rights due diligence and risk management should not be implemented for the purpose of hedging business continuity risks." Instead of idealistic theory, the lecture covered what is required in actual practice, such as the minimum actions that are necessary to avoid human rights infringements, which are integral to the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.
Establishing a Framework for Human Rights Risks
The workshop included a discussion of a hypothetical case study about what happens when a business partner in the supply chain commits serious human rights violations, as well as what actions an outsourcer can take in response to that business partner, and what the maximum risks are for the outsourcer.
Business Partners Countermeasures That Are Unique to Japan
The workshop also discussed the countermeasures that should be taken if the business partner in the previous example does not heed the demands of the outsourcer regarding the human rights-holders (the business partner's workers). Opinions such as those below were expressed.
- Work with other outsourcers to pressure the business partner into engaging with the human rights-holders.
- Request the cooperation of NGOs to investigate the business partner, and conduct interviews with the human rights-holders.
- Open a help line from the outsourcer to the human rights-holders, and conduct interviews directly.
- Visit the factory where the human rights-holders work, and have NGOs conduct interviews with the human rights-holders.
- Publish details of the above activities on the company website to communicate the business partner's human rights violations as broadly as possible.
Another opinion that was expressed was to: "Hold talks with the business partner instead of simply trying to break off the relationship, and work together to make progress." Participants from the UN praised this opinion and remarked that the perspective was unique to Japan and had not come up in previous workshops held in other countries.
By participating in UN human rights workshops in countries around the world, KDDI has studied international comparisons and different observations related to respecting human rights and avoiding complicity in human rights violations. At KDDI, we are conducting in-company workshops on human rights issues with the recognition that we need to communicate what is now required of us as a global corporation.