The Council on Ethics of Sweden’s AP pension funds on Tuesday issued a statement of its expectations of global technology companies on human rights.
The council is a joint effort between Stockholm-based APs 1, 3 and 4 and Gothenburg-based AP2, through which the pension funds work on environmental and ethical issues.
The expectations require that technology giants reinforce measures to respect human rights. These firms must also fully align their work with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the statement said.
Developed with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the expectations have also been used as the basis for engagement with technology firms on human rights, together with a larger group of investors. Those investors include the £2.8 billion ($3.7 billion) Church of England Pensions Board, London, and APG.
Technology companies’ human rights impacts include facilitating the spread of hate speech, misinformation and terrorism; discrimination and other human rights abuses resulting from algorithmic bias; and the concentration of wealth and reinforcement of inequalities, the statement said.
The statement sets out the council’s long-term expectations of how the sector should work strategically on human rights and is designed for use by investors to conduct constructive and effective dialogue with such companies.
“We need a broader discussion on the corporate responsibility of tech companies and respect for fundamental human rights,” John Howchin, secretary-general of the Council on Ethics, said in a news release. “It is still a relatively 'young' sector that in a short time has grown rapidly and has a wide impact. With this, many difficult issues have followed. We do not have all the answers to these questions as it is in many ways a new playing field we have in front of us, but we know from our experience of engaging with other sectors over the years that difficult questions can be addressed if you work in a structured way with the problems. Our goal is for this document to be a platform for that work.”
The four AP funds have more than 1.5 trillion Swedish kronor ($177.1 billion) in total assets.