In the finance context, we assess the current integration level of human rights in core business activities and provide suggestions on how to build human rights capacities in financial institutions. We also write and publish case studies to highlight existing best practices and enhance our understanding of the decision-making processes of financial institutions in connection with human rights implementation.

Human Rights in the Finance Industry

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The finance sector plays a central role in advancing global sustainability and implementing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It can influence the reshaping of markets and economic systems to make them more sustainable and more attuned to the societal and environmental needs of people and the planet.

At the GCBHR, we focus our attention on the approach to and impact of financial institutions on issues related to human rights – an area that has received relatively little attention thus far. As sustainable finance is becoming the new norm entering the mainstream, it is important to understand how the core activities of financial institutions, from lending and project financing to wealth and asset management, impact the human rights of a range of stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, communities, and society at large.

Our objective

Lilach Trabelsi presenting a project in front of an audience
Event “Human Rights in the Finance Industry” on Dec. 10, 2019

We support the integration of human rights into the core activities of companies operating in the finance industry, taking into account needs arising at different levels, be they at the individual employee level, the organizational level, or the industry level.

Our activities

Building

We work on projects to map and better understand the current levels of implementation of human rights in the finance industry. Doing so enables us to not only assess the present approach and generate insights, but also to identify existing gaps and provide suggestions for financial institutions on how to build their human rights capacity.

We also write and publish case studies to highlight existing best practices and enhance our understanding of the decision-making processes of financial institutions as they relate to the integration of human rights into their core activities.

Additionally, we organize and participate in events on the topic of sustainable finance to discuss and advance human rights in the finance sector. We are open to collaborating with partners and have been working with partners from academia, civil society, and financial institutions.

Key Activities and Publications

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From left to right: Pascale Chavaz, Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, David Kinley, Kim Sheehan & Lilach Trabelsi

Human Rights in the European Finance Industry

In this joint project with Finance & Human Rights, commissioned by Luxembourg for Finance, we examine how banks and asset managers in Europe are currently addressing their human rights responsibilities through their core business activities and identify implementation gaps. Our report How are European financial institutions addressing human rights in their activities? (PDF) can also be found here.

Benchmarking Financial Institutions’ Communication on Human Rights

In this joint project with the University of Sydney, we adapted the human rights benchmarking methodology for the finance sector developed by the University of Sydney to the Swiss context. We analyzed publicly available documents of key Swiss financial institutions to understand how they communicate externally about human rights. Download our report Benchmarking Financial Institutions’ Communication on Human Rights (PDF).

How are European financial institutions addressing human rights in their activities?

Cover of “How are European financial institutions addressing human rights in their activities?”

The objective of the research project described in this report How are European financial institutions addressing human rights in their activities? (PDF) is to document the current status of human rights implementation in the European finance industry, generate insights relating to the integration of human rights considerations into the activities of financial institutions, and offer guidance on how to advance human rights in the finance industry.

Benchmarking Financial Institutions’ Communication on Human Rights

Cover of the report “Benchmarking Financial Institutions’ Communication on Human Rights”

In this project, jointly undertaken with the University of Sydney, we examine how key Swiss financial institutions have chosen to communicate about their human-rights-related efforts and activities. To do so, we first adapt the human rights benchmarking methodology for the finance sector developed by the University of Sydney to the Swiss context. Then, we analyze publicly available documents of key Swiss financial institutions in an effort to understand how they communicate externally about human rights and what they choose to communicate about. The analysis described in the report is seen as the first step in mapping out the approach of financial institutions in Switzerland to human rights. Download Benchmarking Financial Institutions’ Communication on Human Rights.