Leadership Indicators

Leadership Indicators focus on the actions of the most senior governing body and/or its relevant sub-committee. There are twelve total indicators in this category.

Senior leaders at corporate, regional, country and business unit levels…

12 resources
Leadership Indicator 1

talk regularly – both internally and publicly – about the company’s commitment to address risks to people across the company’s operations and value chain, and key challenges and opportunities for achieving this goal.

Leadership Indicator 2

regularly affirm that all stakeholders must be treated with respect and dignity, and model this in their interactions with the company’s workforce.

Leadership Indicator 3

pro-actively and regularly seek the insights and critique of credible experts to inform the company’s understanding of and responses to human rights issues.

Leadership Indicator 4

routinely seek out the experiences and views of people across the company’s workforce about how they are affected by the business, and inform them of how their inputs have influenced company decision-making.

Leadership Indicator 5

routinely engage with external stakeholders to understand their experiences and views about how they are affected by the business, and inform them of how their inputs have influenced company decision-making.

Leadership Indicator 6

engage constructively with affected stakeholders or their representatives with regard to any allegations that the company is involved in major human rights-related incidents in its operations or value chain.

Leadership Indicator 7

signal the importance of the internal function(s) or role(s) that lead(s) on human rights by ensuring their insights are integrated into decision-making processes.

Leadership Indicator 8

proactively seek to understand and avoid pressures on employees or contractors to act contrary to the company’s responsibility to respect human rights.

Leadership Indicator 9

encourage the workforce to raise questions or concerns about the company’s impacts on co-workers or external stakeholders.

Leadership Indicator 10

praise actions and decisions that advance the company’s commitment to respect human rights, and call out any that run counter to it.

Leadership Indicator 11

collaborate with business peers and other stakeholders to address systemic issues underpinning the company’s salient human rights risks, based on clear action plans, agreed targets and accountability measures.

Leadership Indicator 12

encourage the sharing of problems and setbacks, as well as progress and successes, to support improved management of human rights risks and impacts.

Governance Indicators

Governance Indicators focus on the actions of the most senior governing body and/or its relevant sub-committee.  There are ten total indicators in this category.

The most senior governing body and/or its relevant sub-committees…

10 resources
Governance Indicator 1

reviews and challenges the company’s business model and strategy to ensure any inherent human rights risks are identified and addressed.

Governance Indicator 2

regularly discusses progress and challenges in addressing the company’s salient human rights risks, informed by related complaints or grievances from the workforce or external stakeholders, root cause analyses of major human rights-related incidents and knowledge of current leading practice.

Governance Indicator 3

reviews and challenges the company’s efforts to influence public policy and regulation to ensure they do not undermine human rights.

Governance Indicator 4

has systems in place to regularly hear the experiences and views of people across the workforce about how they are affected by the business, and informs the workforce about how these inputs have influenced company decision-making.

Governance Indicator 5

has systems in place to regularly hear the experiences and views of external stakeholders about how they are affected by the business, and informs them about how their inputs have influenced company decision-making.

Governance Indicator 6

ensures that cross-functional processes are in place to share information about human rights risks; agree actions to address human rights risks; and monitor progress against those actions.

Governance Indicator 7

requests and reviews a root cause analysis of any incident resulting in severe human rights impacts, in order to ensure that systems, processes and practices are adapted to avoid their recurrence.

Governance Indicator 8

ensures that performance incentives for top management are in place that reflect the company’s salient human rights issues; are supported by relevant KPIs; and are given reasonable weight in compensation schemes.

Governance Indicator 9

challenges any top management performance incentives that may promote behaviors that undermine respect for human rights.

Resource Structure

There are a total of 22 indicators, divided into two categories: 
(To see an overview chart with all 22 indicators, click HERE)
And each indicator is organized into three levels: 

Level One: Overview

This includes:

  • Explanation or an overview of the indicator and its relevance for embedding organizational behaviors, and robust due diligence practices that support respect for human rights;
  • Key Questions for leaders to ask or be asked to aid initial analysis of whether the governance or leadership practice is present in the organization; and
  • Connection to Culture that shows the link back to features of a rights-respecting culture.

Level Two: Application

This discusses:

  • Types of Application highlighting the types of use, whether inside a company or by those outside a company, to which this indicator particularly lends itself; and
  • Sources of Evidence signaling where information related to the indicator might be found, whether in documentation or by soliciting the perspectives of stakeholders.

Level Three: Supporting Indicators

The insight gained from using a single indicator in isolation – however well designed – will have its limits. These limits typically arise from assumptions behind the indicator, for example about pre-existing knowledge, motivations or the practices of others. Users can therefore validate the insight offered by an indicator by combining it with one or more others that address those assumptions. This section provides guidance on which indicators can be used in combination to meet this aim.

Evaluating Child Labor Programs: Uncovering How Local Norms Impact Field-Level Relationships Between Farmers, Workers and Children

Using participatory evaluation to address the root causes of an issue

This case study is part of a collection developed under the Quality of Relationships stream of Shift’s Valuing Respect Project. It explores how Philip Morris International (PMI), a global tobacco company, used participatory evaluation tools to gather information in order to address the “root causes of the most prevalent and persistent issues that keep surfacing” – specifically child labor in their agricultural supply chain. 

Over the years, PMI has been gathering data through regular assessments and farm visits, which help the company to monitor the implementation of its labor standards, including zero child labor. However, it is its latest strategy, Step Change, that has provided complementary information about local awareness challenges, customs and societal attitudes that normalized children working on tobacco-growing farms. In driving this change, PMI has set itself an ambitious target to eliminate child labor from its leaf supply chain by 2025. Addressing incidences of child labor is important due to the hazardous nature of the agricultural work, which can pose increased health and safety risk to children. This case study describes how a combination of participatory methods allowed local and affected people to express in their own terms any local realities that run counter to the company’s efforts to reduce the use of child labor on farms.  

Specifically, the evaluation uncovered that:

  • workers are more accepting of children working on farms than farmers; 
  • child labor is seen as part of a widespread societal norm of communal work; and 
  • strong cultural beliefs ingrained in the society including of some local leaders, educators and community representatives weakening the company’s messaging about child labor. 

We asked ourselves: ‘Why aren’t we seeing positive change?’ That is when we decided to take a deep dive, speak to the farmers and workers directly to uncover root causes which were preventing us from achieving desired outcomes.” 


“Signals of Seriousness” for Human Rights Due Diligence

This discussion draft is intended for the consideration of the European Commission and other stakeholders as the Commission develops proposals on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) and considers how national regulators would implement any such legislation. Shift is submitting this draft together with our formal response to DG JUST’s consultation on a potential new corporate duty to carry out HREDD.

In this discussion draft, we propose some key signals that national regulators could use in assessing the seriousness or quality of a company’s HRDD, grouped into six broad areas of company practice:

  1. Governance of human rights;
  2. Meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders;
  3. Identifying and prioritizing risks;
  4. Taking action on identified risks;
  5. Monitoring and evaluating progress in addressing risks;
  6. Providing and enabling remedy

Not all these features need to be present to judge HRDD to be meaningful or serious, yet where few of them are present, it is unlikely that HRDD will achieve its purpose in practice.

This draft is intended to inform a discussion about assessment by national regulators of company compliance with potential new mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) legislation by:

  • Highlighting critical features of HRDD that are often overlooked or done poorly in practice by companies (such as meaningful stakeholder engagement);
  • Identifying key practices and behaviors needed for meaningful implementation of HRDD that can help in distinguishing better from poorer quality HRDD by going beyond the ‘observable basics’ of company practice;
  • Being relevant to companies of all sizes and sectors by highlighting features of HRDD that could be demonstrated by any company in a variety of ways.

It is not intended to:

  • Replace or dilute existing guidance on the process elements of HRDD;
  • Exclude consideration of authoritative sector-specific guidance by regulators where that is relevant to a company being assessed;  
  • Define leading practice in carrying out HRDD.

We welcome feedback on this discussion draft and will be consulting further on it during Q1 2021. Please direct your feedback and inquiries to: info [at] shiftproject [dot] org

Assessing whether Behavior Change Training can Improve Relationships Between Supervisors and Workers

This is a case study of how Best Buy assessed the effectiveness of a factory training program designed to address certain behaviors of supervisors that were impeding good quality relationships with workers. Specifically, the program sought to improve how supervisors, among other things, managed conflict with workers, listened to workers, and dealt with workplace stress. Companies often use knowledge tests to assess training activities. However, measuring how the newly-acquired knowledge affects the everyday practices and behaviors of participants requires more innovative and deliberate techniques. In this case, the company: 

  • used a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evidence whether any improvements in supervisor awareness and behavior could be attributed to the training program; and 
  • built-in worker voice – in the form of worker surveys and interviews – to measure the change in how supervisors interacted with workers. 

Having robust evidence about the success and challenges of the training program has allowed Best Buy to communicate the outcomes of its efforts to its stakeholders in a balanced way, and to identify improvements that can be put in place before scaling the program in other locations. 

I strongly encourage companies to do what they can to isolate their interventions so as to better assess the impact they are having on labor practices and working conditions. We created target and control groups, which is ideal, but not the only option in seeking to evaluate more accurately. 

hamlin metzger, senior director of human rights – best buy

Summary of Recommendations for an IOC Human Rights Strategy

In March 2020, Shift’s Rachel Davis and the former UN Human Rights Chief, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, delivered the report ‘Recommendations for an IOC Human Rights Strategy’ to IOC President Thomas Bach. The report in full has been made publicly available by the IOC on the organization’s website. Below is a summary of the recommendations that were included in the report, grouped into five pillars.

The authors recommend:

1. Articulating the IOC’s human rights responsibilities, including by adopting appropriate amendments to the Olympic Charter and other core documents, developing a detailed human rights policy commitment reflecting the expectations of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and setting similar expectations for the Olympic Movement as a whole through the “Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance of the Olympic and Sports Movement”.

2. Embedding respect for human rights across the organization to ensure that the IOC’s commitment is driven into its values and culture, including by: hiring a Head of Human Rights to lead implementation of a new human rights strategy, supported by a Human Rights Unit; establishing a cross-functional steering group on human rights at Director-level; ensuring the IOC’s governing bodies take full account of human rights in their decision-making (including through the role of the proposed Human Rights Advisory Committee); and ensuring that there is human rights expertise in the IOC’s consultative Commissions. 

3. Identifying and addressing human rights risks by strengthening human rights due diligence across the IOC’s operations, including by: routinely integrating the perspectives of affected stakeholders (such as athletes, journalists, volunteers, fans, workers and local communities) into the process of identifying and taking action on human rights risks; significantly strengthening the way in which athlete voice and representation informs decision-making within the IOC and the Movement more broadly; taking a more robust approach to using the IOC’s leverage with National Olympic Committees and International Federations on human rights issues; and integrating a focus on salient human rights issues (such as child protection and respect for athletes’ human rights) into existing areas of the IOC’s work.

4. Tracking and communicating on the IOC’s progress, including by: evaluating the human rights performance of the IOC’s partners, especially that of OCOGs for upcoming editions of the Olympic Games; deepening the IOC’s engagement with affected stakeholders and their legitimate representatives (including trade union representatives where athletes are unionized), or with credible proxies for affected stakeholders’ views where direct engagement is not possible; and enhancing transparency about the IOC’s human rights efforts.

5. Strengthening the wider remedy ecosystem in sport by contributing to a significant improvement in the quality of grievance mechanisms at all levels of sport, including strengthening sports bodies’ own mechanisms, supporting social dialogue processes in sport, and enabling access to state-based forms of remedy for severe human rights harms. We recommended that this should begin with an initial focus on: improving access to remedy in cases of harassment and abuse; improving Games-time grievance mechanisms (run by the IOC as well as by OCOGs); and reviewing the preparedness of the IOC’s own systems to handle human rights complaints.


Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was the UN human rights chief from 2014-2018; and is a highly-regarded defender and promoter of universal human rights -awarded the Stockholm prize in 2015 as well the Tulip prize in 2018 for his human rights work.  For much of his career, he was a senior diplomat, serving twice as Jordan’s ambassador to the United Nations (in New York) and once as Jordan’s ambassador to the United States (2007-2010).  He also represented Jordan twice before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  In January 2014, he served as president of the UN Security Council.  Earlier, in 2002 he was elected the first president of the governing body of the International Criminal Court (ICC) — guiding the court’s growth in its first three years (9/2002-9/2005).  He chaired some of the most complex legal negotiations associated with the court’s statute.  He contributed to the international community’s efforts at countering the threat of nuclear materials being trafficked by terrorists (2010-2014).  And he led the UN’s efforts at eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping (2004-2007). From 1994-1996, he was a UN civilian peacekeeper with UNPROFOR.  He has degrees from Johns Hopkins and Cambridge universities.  In 2019, he was appointed a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace, justice and human rights, founded by Nelson Mandela.  He is currently the Perry World House Professor of the Practice of Law and Human Rights at the University of Pennsylvania.  In 2019, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and awarded an honorary knighthood (KCMG) from Queen Elizabeth II.

Rachel Davis is Co-founder and Vice President of Shift, the leading center of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, where she has led work for the last decade on standard-setting, human rights and sports, financial institutions, conflict and international law. Rachel has been the Chair of FIFA’s independent Human Rights Advisory Board since it was established in 2017 and has advised the International Olympic Committee on human rights since 2018. She was a senior legal advisor to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on business and human rights, Harvard Professor John Ruggie (2006-2011), and is a Senior Program Fellow with the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. An author of the leading study on the costs of company-community conflict in the extractive sector, Rachel has worked at the High Court of Australia and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of New South Wales.