Because of COVID-19, many European companies are understandably focusing on their financial figures and the safety and wellbeing of their direct employees. Given the gravity of the crisis, the larger supply chain and the human rights and environmental due diligence therein risks falling off their agenda. But do these difficult times absolve companies from their due diligence responsibilities?
Absolutely not. Businesses have the responsibility for mitigating human rights and environmental risks along their supply chains, as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. But beyond that, it is also in companies’ interest that their supply chains don’t fully crumble as a result of COVID-19 and are able to weather the global economic crisis that will threaten the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide, not least in developing countries.
According to the International Monetary Fund, global demand is in a freefall and many global supply chains are fracturing, leaving workers at risk of losing their jobs. Without a job and a proper safety net to rely on, people can fall into crippling poverty with little to support their families.
Even if people don’t lose their jobs, there are increased human rights risks in global supply chains. Companies in developing countries supplying European businesses may lack adequate health and safety measures to support their workers during this time. In case workers fall sick and are required to self-isolate, they may be paid little to nothing, especially people in informal or contractual work.
Read the full blog here.
This blog first appeared on the ECDPM site.
Author: Jeske van Seters and Nadia Ashraf, ECDPM.
Image courtesy of homegets.com/.
The views are those of the author and not necessarily those of ETTG.