How do I find an HRDD consultant?

Business and human rights practitioners have proliferated in recent years, housed in law firms, management consultancies, social and environmental consulting firms, and as individual practitioners. NomoGaia does not do consulting work, but we can help link you to some of the leading experts in the field. You can start by looking through the authors of the publicly available HRIAs listed on our HRIA “Examples by Others” page. Things to keep in mind when hiring an HRDD consultant:

  • How many core competencies does the firm have? If human rights is a tertiary part of the business, that may be a red flag.
  • What methodologies does the firm use for human rights assessment? Is the firm transparent about process? This can indicate whether assessment is truly systematic. 
  • Does the consultant describe how rightsholder engagement is conducted? Even high-level risk screens are expected to directly include the input of vulnerable and marginalized people. Analysis should not focus solely on “key” informants.
  • If the firm’s previous assessments are available publicly, read them to see if the consultants (1) directly engage rightsholders, (2) prioritize remediation recommendations based on the severity of the impacts rather than the ease of implementation, (3) include feedback with affected people to validate findings, (4) incorporate qualitative and perceptions-based inputs to triangulate with quantitative evidence provided by an array of external and internal sources.

Why doesn’t NomoGaia do consulting work?

Neutrality is difficult to demonstrate in the contentious field of business and human rights. Working for advocacy groups allows companies to paint organizations as anti-corporate; working for companies allows activists to paint organizations as greenwashers. NomoGaia refuses to do consulting work, because the relationship between consultants and clients is unequal and restricts transparency. We believe all our work is most useful by being broadly accessible.

What can NomoGaia do for me?

Email us and ask! We often engage directly with scholars, practitioners, advocacy groups and business enterprises to help them understand human rights due diligence approaches and expectations. At this website we can provide:

What should be in our corporate policy?

Check out our policy page, here!

What if my value chain is too big to assess?

There are tiered approaches to due diligence to help you prioritize by human rights risk. Check out our HRDD page, here!

What is the difference between risk assessment and impact assessment?

There aren’t consistent definitions differentiating these two assessment types, because the concept of risk assessment derives from enterprise risk management (ERM), while the concept of impact assessment has historically been part of a permitting process. We have defined each process separately on landing pages dedicated to risk assessment and impact assessment.

Where can I find examples of good human rights assessments, policies and grievance mechanisms?

We have tried to compile the publicly available HRIAs by other organizations and by NomoGaia, as well as policy guidance. Grievance mechanisms are an ongoing challenge we are continually working on.

What does ‘remedy’ actually mean?

Remedy is supposed to refer to the remediation of a wrong–the reversing of an impact. In practice, achieving remedy would require: first, the ability of a rightsholder to articulate that a human right has been impacted by a company; second, the acceptance by the business enterprise of its role in the impact, and; third, provision of remedial actions by the company to reverse the impact, address any implications of the impact as it was occurring. As a matter of human rights due diligence, the business enterprise would be expected to modify policies and practices as needed to prevent similar impacts from occurring again in the future.

There are no established non-judicial remedy processes currently implemented by multinational business actors. Efforts are underway to design and improve on existing practices, however, at the operational, enterprise, and sectoral levels. A 2019 report by the International Committee of Jurists highlights challenges for operations-level grievance mechanisms to enable rightsholders to complain as well as to push companies to address human rights complaints meaningfully. SOMO has closely tracked the shortcomings of independent accountability mechanisms (IAMs) of development finance institutions to field complaints and act on them. The Rights in Development network built on this work, directly contacting communities whose advocates were attacked, criminalized or killed when trying to elevate human rights concerns to the development banks financing infrastructure projects on their lands. NomoGaia contributed to their 2018 report, Uncalculated Risks: Threats and attacks against human rights defenders and the role of development financiers.

Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) designed to elevate the ethical performance of business sectors have become an increasingly popular avenue for housing non-judicial grievance mechanisms. NomoGaia has worked with several MSIs, in the aluminum, sugar, palm oil, garment and other sectors. In 2018-2020 NomoGaia worked with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) to better understand how or if these mechanisms secure remedies to people who make confirmed, legitimate human rights complaints. Work from the Access to Remedy Project III (ARP III) will go live on the Remedy page as it becomes available.

Is there a certification for companies that are rights-respectful?

No, but there are certifications that are increasingly aiming for it. The aluminum industry has the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative. Palm oil growers have the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Garment makers have the Fair Labor Association as well as some region-specific initiatives in contexts like Bangladesh where labor violations are particularly catastrophic. All these certification expressly call on member companies and certified operations to respect human rights and carry out human rights due diligence.

I work for a [bank, activist group, VC firm, service provider, tech company], what are my human rights responsibilities?

If you’re from a business enterprise and you’re new to business and human rights, you might want to start with some basics you might be looking for an introductory explanation of the business and human rights. We don’t really provide that, but go to the UN Guiding Principles overview here or this Global Compact Guide here). A compendium of information on business and human rights, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, might also be useful.

If you’re looking for a deeper dive, we can help. There’s no one-size-fits all model for human rights due diligence, but