Why should business be involved in creating social value?

Globally there are numerous examples of companies, big and small, that have actively taken up the responsibility to improve (a specific sub-set of) human rights. But why should they actually do so? Watch Ray Anderson talk on why sustainability matters for companies in ‘The business logic of sustainability matters’ and Michael Porter‘s response on the question in his TED-talk ‘Why business can be good at solving social problems’.

Need more inspiration? Scroll down for three interesting examples of large multinational companies that have been highly successful in linking human rights opportunities to their business and thereby in managing their business while improving the lives of others.



Practical examples - Business for Human Rights

Read all about the activities of General Electric, Microsoft and Novo Nordisk to uphold a specific area of human rights.

General Electric and LGBT equality

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT civil rights organization in the US, has awarded General Electric the Corporate Equality Award 2015.

"On behalf of the entire HRC Greater New York Gala Committee, we are proud to recognize GE and its long standing commitment to LGBT equality,” said Craig deGroot, co-chair of the HRC Greater New York Gala. “GE has shown a commitment to supporting its LGBT employees for years by providing equal benefits and opportunities, as well as supporting measures to bring equality to all on the state and federal level.”

Already providing domestic partner benefits since 2004, GE was one of the first major corporations to extend full same-sex spousal benefits to all U.S. employees. GE is also a member of the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, a group of leading U.S. employers that support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And just last month, GE joined 30 other American businesses urging the Supreme Court to “consider a uniform principle that all couples share in the right to marry.”

During annual enrollment in October of last year, GE announced that it would offer transgender inclusive healthcare coverage for all U.S. employees, which took effect January 1 of this year.

GE has participated in the HRC Corporate Equality Index (CEI) since its inception in 2002. The HRC CEI is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees, and GE boasts a 100% score this year.

For more information, see:

Microsoft and the freedom of expression and the right to privacy

After allegations in the past of disclosing communication between citizens upon US government demands and applying censorship in Chinese search results Microsoft has taken serious steps to advance the right to freedom of expression and privacy.

Microsoft has taken a leadership role along with others in the industry to advocate for new international standards and reforms of government surveillance practices. In 2014, Microsoft also collaborated with a number of leading privacy experts to advance dialogue models to protect privacy through the release of multi-stakeholder recommendations on Data Protection Principles for the 21st Century.

Microsoft is a founding member and sits on the board of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a collaborative effort between ICT companies, human rights groups, socially responsible investors, and others. GNI provides a set of Principles and Implementation Guidelines regarding practical steps and policies ICT companies can adopt to respect and advance the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users when faced with governmental demands.

An independent assessor reviewed the policies and procedures adopted by Microsoft in accordance with the GNI guidelines and looked at how the policies and procedures were implemented in real-world cases. Based on the results of this assessment and engagement with Microsoft, the GNI Board determined that Microsoft is compliant with the GNI Principles. The assessment found that the systems, policies, and procedures that Microsoft relies upon to implement the GNI Principles are both mature and subject to ongoing review with an eye to continuous improvement. The GNI’s public report on the results of this assessment is available online.

Novo Nordisk and the fulfillment of the highest attainable standard of health

Global research company Frost & Sullivan has named Novo Nordisk as the Diabetes CSR Company of the Year.

The acknowledgement recognizes the company’s long-term commitment to improving diabetes care in Indonesia.

Indonesia has the 7th highest number of people living with diabetes in the world with an estimated 8.5 million people.[1] Due to poor access to healthcare and limited quality of care, less than 1% of Indonesians living with diabetes are achieving internationally recommended blood sugar levels.[2]

In 2003, Novo Nordisk in a concerted action with partners, started investing in response to the rise in diabetes, strengthening healthcare professional education, establishing diabetes care centres in rural areas and increasing awareness about diabetes and its risk factors.

Frost & Sullivan commend Novo Nordisk’s decade of social responsibility: Novo Nordisk has proven its leadership in CSR in the Indonesian diabetes care market through its dedicated focus on improving quality of life for diabetics through its patient-focused activities along with a significant degree of innovation through its range of solutions to support treatment.

In a 2013 business case, Where economics and health meet: changing diabetes in Indonesia, Novo Nordisk analysed the economic and societal benefits of its operations. The business case aims to identify ways the company can work together with governmental and non-governmental partners to scale up successful projects, programmes and initiatives in Indonesia benefitting patients and the diabetes care community.

[1] International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 6th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2013.

[2] Archieve study. Country results presentation Indonesia. Novo Nordisk, 2012

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