A carefully designed space for leading practitioners in the financial sector to discuss human rights challenges and co-create cutting-edge solutions that fit their unique reality

Financial institutions are uniquely positioned to advance business respect for human rights. Their products, services, clients and investment portfolios span all sectors and industries, enabling them to catalyze change by using their leverage to help move markets in the right direction. At the same time, this broad reach means they are often connected to an enormous range of human rights risks.

For practitioners in the financial sector, this presents significant challenges as well as opportunities. Yet, there are limited spaces available for them to analyze how the responsibility to respect human rights applies to their context and to discuss possible approaches to human rights due diligence together with others who are facing similar challenges, informed by external human rights expertise.

Shift’s Financial Institutions Practitioners Circle (FIs Circle) was carefully designed to fill that gap. It is a purposefully small network of practitioners from private banks and export credit agencies – led by Shift experts – to foster insightful conversations, co-create innovative approaches and ultimately advance leading practice across the financial sector.

The FIs Circle is not a membership organization with a secretariat, nor an industry grouping for policy advocacy. Rather, it is a space for practitioners to have frank discussions about implementing respect for human rights with peers who understand the challenges involved and want to contribute to shaping leading practice in the sector, guided by top human rights experts.

Watch this Video to Learn More


Benefits of the Program

Why join Shift’s Financial Institutions Practitioners Circle


Group Workshops and Discussions

FIs Circle participants join their peers across leading financial institutions in tailored workshops and in-depth discussions that explore shared challenges in implementing the corporate responsibility to respect in the FIs context.

Every year, the FIs Circle has three virtual peer learning workshops, facilitated by Shift human rights experts who bring their experience, knowledge and learnings from working with a variety of stakeholders on distinct challenges across the financial sector.




In addition to the peer-learning workshops, participants are invited to attend (and/or to send new team members or other colleagues) to bi-annual introductory sessions on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These sessions are uniquely tailored to the operations and value chain of the financial sector.

They offer an introduction to the UN Guiding Principles to participants from institutions who are diving into business and human rights for the first time.




For almost a decade, Shift has worked directly with banks, export credit agencies and other financial institutions in developing solutions for a wide array of challenges. In parallel, we’ve collaborated with peer civil society organizations and have been closely involved in standard-setting processes in this space.

Consistent with our mission, Shift brings to the table the learnings we have gathered and the tools we have designed, and are developing, to explore together with FIs Circle participants.

Learn more about our work with financial institutions, their regulators and other stakeholders here.




Shift is a mission-driven organization that seeks not only to support individual companies, but to advance leading practice across entire sectors and to embed the UN Guiding Principles in authoritative standards. In line with this, we are committed to using the knowledge that we build through programs like the Financial Institutions Practitioners Circle to develop and share public-facing outputs that can inform practice and push the boundaries of business behavior, while appropriately respecting confidentiality.

Explore our public resources here.




In addition to the workshops, discussions and opportunities that are specific to the financial sector, Shift offers participants of the FIs Circle the option to join our flagship Business Learning Program, where companies receive tailored strategic and operational support on specific challenges that they face, and participate in cross-industry learning with leading companies from around the world.

Learn more about Shift’s Business Learning Program.

FIs Circle Publications

We use the knowledge that we build through programs like the Financial Institutions Practitioners Circle to develop and share public-facing outputs that can inform practice and push the boundaries of business behavior, while appropriately respecting confidentiality.


6 resources
April 2024
Tackling Child Labor: A Guide for Financial Institutions

In June 2023, following concern from member banks over the persistent scourge of child labor in global value chains and recent reports of the alarming increase in child labor – particularly migrant child labor – in the United States, Shift held a peer-learning session of its Financial Institutions Practitioners Circle on the topic. The session […]

September 2023
Human Rights Defenders and Shrinking Civic Space: A Guide for Financial Institutions

From early warnings to controversy data, investors and lenders are increasingly recognizing their reliance on civil society and human rights defenders for their human rights due diligence (for more see No News is Bad News, the product of a collaboration between ABN AMRO, APG, ING, Robeco, and Morningstar Sustainalytics). This includes the essential insights they […]

July 2023
Indigenous Rights and Financial Institutions: Free, Prior and Informed Consent, Just Transition and Emerging Practice

Companies, civil society and the finance sector are paying increasing attention to Indigenous Peoples rights and expertise, which are critical in the context of our most pressing global agenda items: climate change and biodiversity loss. This is not least because much of the world’s biodiversity, and many of the natural resources needed for the energy […]

February 2023
Climate Change and Human Rights: Avoiding pitfalls for financial institutions

This paper explores the nexus between climate change strategy and action by financial institutions (FIs) and the responsibility to respect human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). It discusses a series of pitfalls for financial institutions to avoid as they operationalize climate-related commitments and explore the social (“S”) […]

October 2021
Financial Institutions and Remedy: Myths and Misconceptions

It can be difficult for sustainability practitioners within financial institutions to engage the institution on the third pillar of the UNGPs: Remedy. But engage them they must. There remains an enduring “remedy gap”: in too many cases, remedy is not available for people who are harmed by business activities, which financial institutions may be involved […]

July 2021
Using Leverage to Drive Better Outcomes for People

In March 2021, Shift held the first peer-learning session of its Financial Institutions Practitioners Circle, focusing on the topic of leverage. This resource captures the key takeaways of the session.  The traditional approach of many banks and Export Credit Agencies (together “FIs”) has been to assess risk from a credit risk perspective and to make […]

Criteria for Admission



Shift’s FIs Circle is designed for institutions that have demonstrated organizational maturity to embed respect for human rights across their operations and are ready to take further action. Participants come from different regions of the world.

Prior to an organization joining the FIs Circle, we engage in an in-depth discussion to determine whether participation is the right fit for the organization and for the group, based on the financial institution’s human rights work and its commitment to sharing its experience and improving its performance.

At this stage the FIs Circle is only open to select participants from private banks and export credit agencies. This is to ensure that participants can take advantage of the opportunity to discuss challenges with peers that work in similar contexts and face analogous challenges and opportunities for positive impact.

Beyond the FIs Circle, Shift works bilaterally with a wide variety of financial institutions that are at an earlier stage in their human rights journey. You can learn more about the way we provide bespoke advisory support to financial institutions here, or contact us at info [at] shiftproject [dot] org to learn more.

Inquire about the FIs Circle

At the moment, Shift’s FIs Circle is open to invited practitioners from private banks and export credit agencies. Current participants include practitioners from Allied Irish Bank, ABN AMRO, Citi Group, ING, Wells Fargo and Westpac, among others.

To learn more about Shift’s Financial Institutions Practitioners Circle contact us at info [at] shiftproject [dot] org. You can also visit our Financial Institutions page to learn about more ways in which we work with other financial institutions, including investors, national development finance institutions, standard setters and others.