Human rights violations persist in the domain of business. This is the unfortunate reality of ever complex and hyper-globalised supply chains, fuelled not by the best interests of workers but the pursuit of profit above all else.
In recognition of International Human Rights Day on Dec 10, Konica Minolta Australia released its first Human Rights Position Statement. The statement draws together Konica Minolta’s approach to three main areas of human rights: diversity and inclusion; ethical sourcing; and strong partnerships with human rights organisations. Importantly, it articulates our policy position as well as actions that we will hold ourselves to account on.
Over the past five years, inspired by the work of John Ruggie and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), leading companies have recognised that human rights matter. They matter first and foremost because it is the right thing to do; because a workforce free of exploitation is more productive; today, global laws and norms are catching up to businesses that have for too long operated in contexts where weak rule of law prevails; and millennial consumers expect businesses to have purpose as well as profit.
It would be a failure if human rights were considered an ‘add-on’ to existing corporate social responsibility (CSR) agendas. Truly ‘doing’ business and human rights means understanding and assessing the human rights impact of core business. For example, having suppliers sign a Code of Conduct that prohibits forced labour and then issuing the same suppliers a short lead-time in product manufacturing that results in the forced overtime of workers. Good policy intensions need to manifest in practice.
This year, Konica Minolta accelerated efforts to promote an inclusive environment with the launch of a Gender Equality Strategy and progressive policies such as Domestic and Family Violence Support. These efforts have been recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), which recently accredited Konica Minolta as an Employee of Choice for Gender Equality 2016.
Business respect for human rights is especially relevant in a company’s supply chain. Under commitments to ethical sourcing, Konica Minolta will conduct human rights due diligence of its supply chain and work with suppliers to better understand their risks and needs.
In addition to addressing core business areas, Konica Minolta strategically supports non-for-profit organisations working to safeguard human rights in Australia and the region.