The business case for human rights in finance

ESG
20/11/2023 Article
profile picture of John Berry

John Berry

Qorus

CEO

I have to admit that upon reviewing the results of the BankTrack Human Rights Benchmark, which revealed that several banks, including some affiliated with Qorus, fell short in safeguarding human rights, I was appalled. It served as a stark reminder that there is much work to be done in the financial sector when it comes to protecting human rights. 

What we're witnessing is that respecting human rights isn't just about being morally upright; it's about making savvy business decisions. This isn't limited to doing the right thing; it extends to ensuring legal compliance, building consumer trust, and fortifying risk management. 

Now, here's the flip side of the coin: neglecting human rights can be perilous for financial institutions. It can tarnish their reputation, expose them to regulatory scrutiny, and even lead to costly legal battles. In our social media-driven world, public sentiment can quickly become a potent force. 

So, what's the game plan? Financial institutions must adopt a people-centric approach. That means integrating human rights standards into risk management, conducting rigorous due diligence, and forging partnerships with stakeholders. It's about quantifying the financial impact of human rights risks, even when they're not easy to put a dollar figure on. 

But this isn't a solo act; it's a team effort. Collaboration is vital. Financial institutions should engage with external parties, like human rights advocates and non-governmental organizations, to gain valuable insights and identify potential risks. Aligning risk management with clients' due diligence and independently evaluating due diligence maintain transparency. I want to draw your attention to an article that rightly underscores the shifting perception of human rights from a moral concern to a strategic necessity. It's titled “Human rights in finance: A moral imperative and a savvy business approach”.

At Qorus, we call on banks and insurance companies to get their act together and do everything in their power to protect human rights, with the same conviction and determination they have shown in the fight against climate change. Human rights must not be the "poor relation" of ESG. 

Embracing human rights isn't just a noble gesture; it's a strategic imperative for businesses, especially financial institutions. It's a path to lasting success, a shield against reputational damage, and a means to earn the trust of clients and stakeholders. Let's prioritize human rights, collaborate, and learn from best practices to ensure that the financial industry truly lives up to its ethical responsibilities. 

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