Posts

When Surveillance Is Self-Defeating

In February, Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom announced that it would end a staff-monitoring scheme after the Trades Union Congress accused the bank of using “dystopian Big Brother employment practices.” However, numerous American…

Five Takeaways from the Luanda Leaks

In 2013, National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked a large volume of highly classified information to investigative journalists, inspiring a new generation of whistleblowers. Since then, we’ve all been given access…

Meet Alison Taylor, Ethical Systems’ New Executive Director

Over the years I’ve found it common, interviewing people, to hear that their line of work wasn’t what they envisioned for themselves. A game theorist I spoke to not too long ago, for example, had originally planned to study spacetime…

Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Efforts Will Converge in 2020

In considering external operating risk, it has long been clear that corruption and negative human rights impacts correlate keenly. Underpaid doctors who require bribes before they will admit your child to a hospital immediately undermine your…

Featured Ethics [and Human Rights] Scholar for April: Mike Posner

Interview with Mike Posner, Jerome Kohlberg Professor of Ethics and Finance and Director for the Center of Business and Human Rights at NYU Stern School of Business

 

What are your main areas of research/work?

When we launched the Center in 2013, we sought to pioneer new ways of investigating business practices at the industry level. Our methodology prioritizes interview-based research with business leaders and other stakeholders, combined with documentary evidence, policy and data analysis, and visualization.

 

How does strengthening human rights help reduce ethical misconduct in companies?

To date, most approaches to address human rights or sustainability in business have focused on what happens within the four walls of the firm. They focus on the activities of individual managers to improve company practices or corporate financial contributions to improve the environment, women’s empowerment, or public health. We are very focused on how large global companies make money, their business models for doing so, and the human rights risks in their industry that accompany that model.

Featured Collaborator for March: Dorothee Baumann-Pauly

Interview with Dorothee Baumann-Pauly, Research Director at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights

How does your work on human rights help companies that want to improve themselves as ethical systems? 

In contrast to the more established, yet still vague framework, of corporate social responsibility (CSR), business and human rights (BHR) explicitly focuses on aligning companies’ core business processes with their commitment to human rights. Thus, BHR asks how companies are making their money, not how they are spending it. Human rights challenges are real for multinational companies; they pose major business risks to their operations. Companies today are expected to commit to respecting human rights in their business operations, and they need concrete standards that clarify what this commitment means in their operational context. The requirement to report against a specific standard increases transparency over a corporation’s human rights conduct and creates incentives to develop enduring ethical systems.