Shift is the leading center of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our global team of experts works across all continents and sectors to challenge assumptions, push boundaries and redefine corporate practice in order to build a world where business gets done with respect for people’s dignity. Shift is a non-profit, mission-driven organization headquartered in New York City.

Shift is headquartered in New York City, with team members in other US cities, Canada, UK, Australia and The Netherlands.

Our Story

Shift Co-founders, Caroline Rees & Rachel Davis

It was June 2011. Our excitement easily overshadowed how exhausted we were. After five intense years of conducting research, facilitating dozens of consultations and engaging with thousands of people around the globe, our efforts had paid off. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, authored by Professor John Ruggie, had just been unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. To many, it was the culmination of a project. To us, it was only the beginning.

Having closely accompanied Professor Ruggie throughout his mandate, we knew that the Guiding Principles would only be truly transformative if all parties who had come to the table would now get down to the business of implementation. Governments, businesses, investors, NGOs… everyone needed to do their part to put words into action. The three pillars were in place. It was now time to build a new paradigm for doing business upon them.

“That is how Shift was born: out of the passion that we felt – and continue to feel every day – for working to ensure that all businesses, regardless of size, sector or location, respect the inherent dignity of all human beings.”


It has been that same passion that has taken us from an early startup working out of a small office in New York to a robust, global organization with human rights experts in four countries and engagements across the entire world.

Shift’s President, Caroline Rees, talks about our mission and the work that we do with our allies.

Together, we are redefining the frontiers of business responsibility across a wide array of sectors, including oil and gas, mining, financial institutions, garment, food and beverages and large-scale sports. Our aim is one: To build a world where business gets done with respect for people’s dignity.”

What Makes Us Shift

Our Principled, Yet Practical Approach

As a mission-driven organization, we are grounded in our principles and values. We have the confidence to ask the difficult questions and give critical feedback. At the same time, being principled does not mean we are dogmatic. We are always conscious of the complex realities that our partners face and the need to take account of them if we want to see change.

The foundational role we played in devising the UN Guiding Principles …

Our co-founders accompanied Professor John Ruggie during his UN mandate. For six years, they worked closely with him to devise the principles that became the world’s authoritative standard on the business and human rights. That means we know and understand the spirit and purpose of every principle and commentary in the UNGPs.

Professor John Ruggie was the founding Chair of our Board, and throughout our first decade of work he brought his unique perspective and vision to Shift.


… and the substantial hands-on expertise we’ve developed in putting them into practice

For more than a decade, we’ve worked closely with governments, multinational companies, trade unions, intergovernmental bodies, international CSOs and many others to translate the UNGPs into reality-changing practice. We’ve developed vast expertise across industries and geographies and at all levels, from C-suite to on-the-ground work.

That certainly does not mean we have all the answers. But it does give us the confidence to know where we have the answers, where we don’t – knowing we can point in the direction of those who do – and where we can work together to come up with innovative solutions.


Our purposeful curiosity

A core element of Shift’s identity is our passion for purposeful innovation. We love to take the road less traveled and explore the tough, seemingly unsolvable questions in order to develop insights and tools that can help bring about positive transformation.

That is how we have constantly pioneered in the world of business and human rights, being frank and forthright about what needs to change and demonstrating how practices can rise to meet ambitions.


The fact that we are well-trusted. And it’s not just us saying it.

Time and again, our partners acknowledge the critical role that we play as allies, conveners, facilitators, coaches and partners for transformation. Our work across sectors, with governments, CSOs and businesses alike, has placed us in a position to understand different perspectives, incentives, challenges and realities.

That is how we’ve earned the trust of dozens of Fortune 500 and top-tier companies, national governments around the world, influential civil society organizations, high-level investor groups, multinational financial institutions and prime sporting bodies.