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Casting a wider net

ICCR broadening its engagement on human rights by forming new alliance

David Schilling

To spur further investor action on a range of human rights issues, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, New York, is forming the Investor Alliance for Human Rights.

Although the Interfaith Center already boasts about 300 investors who engage companies on human rights issues in their operations and supply chains, David Schilling, ICCR's senior program director, human rights and resources, said it's time for "a deeper sense of ongoing collaboration." Participation in the human rights alliance would be open to all institutional investors, not just ICCR members.

Looking at the conflicts taking place today, around things such as food supply and water, for instance, "it's really important ... to bring to bear some major institutional leverage that can impact the corporate arena but also that can work on the policy side," Mr. Schilling said.

Companies are beginning to see that human rights risks pose material business risks, and investors see the importance of tracking companies' human rights performance, Mr. Schilling said.

Rather than focus on a particular issue at a particular time, the ICCR hopes the alliance will become an ongoing platform for investor action on human rights issues that can mobilize quickly, Mr. Schilling said.

Specifics are still being discussed, but actions the alliance could take to effect positive change include writing investor letters and bringing different stakeholders together to reach an understanding of what changes need to take place in certain sectors, such as how companies' reporting on human rights issues can be improved, Mr. Schilling said.

The alliance is expected to formally launch in 2018.