Singapore, 16 June 2014 — Michelle Staggs Kelsall, Deputy Director of the Human Rights Resource Centre, joined discussions held in Singapore on 16 June 2014 which focused on the important topic of stakeholders’ engagement in human rights due diligence by ICT companies.
The organizer of the roundtable, Microsoft Company, noted that for many global ICT companies, a major corporate responsibility priority at present focuses on how to apply the UN Guiding Principles’ corporate responsibility to respect guidance through a systemic approach to human rights due diligence. However, ICT companies are faced with challenges when determining how to undertake human rights due diligence in ways that effectively and accurately identify risks to rights holders. Principle 18 of the Guiding Principles is important in this context, providing high-level direction for how companies should engage with human rights stakeholders.
The aim of the roundtable was to identify creative, scalable, sustainable and responsible models to help guide stakeholder engagement. The Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), on behalf of Microsoft, developed a working paper, “Stakeholder Engagement in Human Rights Due Diligence: Challenges and Solutions for ICT Companies,” which was used to help frame discussions at the roundtable. With inputs gained from roundtable discussions, the paper endeavors to answer the following question: How should an ICT company engage with rights holders when it may have hundreds of millions (or even billions) of users spread across the world using diverse products, services, technologies, and applications in vastly different human rights environments?
Participants focused on how best to define and engage rights holders and stakeholders—including internal stakeholders, such as employees. Participants also discussed the leadership role companies can take to overcome existing barriers. It was agreed that human rights must not be an afterthought, but a key consideration when making decisions.
This was the fifth roundtable to be held by the Microsoft Company to date. It was preceded by similar discussions in Brussels, Berlin (two roundtables), and San Francisco.