Starting with the BIG picture

Companies spend a lot of time thinking about how to increase value for customers in ways that increase profits for the company: in essence, their business model. Yet few of them consider how the ways in which they do so can carry inherent risks for people’s rights. Failing to see the big picture, they risk wasting time and valuable resources on efforts to address issues at an operational level when the reality is they are wired for trouble.

Our Business Model Red Flags work focuses on human rights risks that are integral to specific features of a company’s business model. It aims to provide business leaders, boards and investors, as well as civil society, with the tools to identify these risks and assess if the company is addressing them.

“Our aim with these Red Flags is to help companies strive towards sustainable business models that are economically viable but also integrate respect for people into the core of how they deliver value.”


What are Business Model Red Flag Indicators?

The Red Flag Indicators (in their current BETA version) help businesses and their stakeholders identify human rights risks associated with their business models. We’ve developed a non-exhaustive list that draws from a wide range of business models, and complemented them with examples of how they show up in different industries.

For each red flag, we are currently developing supporting resources, including 3-4 questions for top managers or investors to ask; background on the nature of the risks, and how to understand their implications for a company’s responsibilities; and deeper due diligence questions and supporting resources on ways to mitigate the risk.

At this stage, we are testing this evolving draft with stakeholders and aim to then work with partners to pilot different use cases for the indicators and further refine them based on what we learn.

You are welcome to browse through the working documents and initial outputs below to learn more about where we are in the process.

Latest Resources

Research and Outputs on Business Model Red Flags
3 Resources
September 2020 | Concept Note

Applying Indicators of Business Model Red Flags

This note sets out Shift’s key take-aways from a series of single-stakeholder consultations we organized between July and and August 2020, as part of the Valuing Respect Project. The consultations focused on opportunities and challenges for boards, company practitioners, business associations, banks, investors, governments and Civil Society Organizations to use the Valuing Respect Business Model […]

May 2020 | Tool

Business Model Red Flags (BETA)

Business Model Red Flags (Beta) This resource is a work in progress as part of Shift’s Valuing Respect project. It provides a non-exhaustive menu of business model features that carry inherent human rights risks. It aims to help companies, investors and others foster sustainable business models that can be economically successful without exacerbating inequalities. Analysis […]

September 2019 | Concept Note

Developing Red Flag Indicators of Human Rights Risks in Business Models

This document describes Shift’s approach to developing Red Flag Indicators of human rights risks in business models. The indicators will be a tool to help company leaders, boards and investors recognize and tackle risks to people that are embedded at the core of how a company delivers on its value proposition. We set out here […]

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