Wednesday, June 19, 2024

GRI Launches Global Review of Labor Standards with Public Consultation Period

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The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced today the launch of a comprehensive review of its labor-related standards. This initiative aims to enhance companies’ ability to report on their impacts on workers, thereby improving transparency regarding workplace labor and human rights. 

The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards are among the most widely accepted global standards for corporate sustainability reporting. They facilitate consistent reporting across various companies and industries, enabling clearer communication about sustainability matters to diverse stakeholders, including investors. These standards are developed by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB). 

As part of this review, the GRI has initiated a global public comment period on proposed changes to three standards: “GRI 402: Labor/Management Relations,” “GRI 401: Employment,” and “GRI 202: Market Presence.” The public comment period will run until 4 October. The proposed updates aim to improve how businesses calculate whether workers receive a living wage and assess the extent of their gender pay gap. They also seek to enhance fair recruitment practices and provide guidance on best-practice approaches to upskilling, reskilling, redeployment, non-standard forms of employment, and termination of employment. 

The proposed changes reflect collaborative input from several key organizations. The development process has been guided by an expert group with representation from workers through the International Trade Union Confederation and Global Unions Federations, employers through the International Organization of Employers, and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The GRI stated that this process ensures full alignment of the GRI Labor Standards with key intergovernmental instruments for business and human rights, including those established by the ILO, the United Nations (UN), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

This revision process is part of a broader effort by the GRI to keep its standards relevant and effective in a rapidly changing global environment. Over the next 12 months, two additional consultations will be held, focusing on reporting related to working life and career development, as well as workers’ rights and protections. Collectively, these consultations will impact changes to 11 standards. The changes laid out at present are intended to bring the three initial standards into full alignment with the principles contained in key international labor guidance, including those produced by the UN, OECD, and ILO. 

Carol Adams, Chair of the GSSB, emphasized the importance of this initiative in a statement: 

“Revising labor-related disclosures is a high priority for the GSSB, given widespread recognition of the need for organizations to do more to protect human and labor rights and ensure decent conditions and treatment of workers. Better information and disclosure are key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and improving decision-making. I encourage all stakeholders to review the changes and provide feedback.” 

The GRI’s effort to revise its labor-related standards comes at a time of increasing scrutiny on corporate practices related to labor and human rights. With growing awareness and concern among consumers, investors, and regulators about how companies treat their workers, there is significant demand for better transparency and accountability. The updated standards aim to provide companies with a robust framework to report on these critical issues, thereby enabling stakeholders to make more informed decisions. 

Proposed changes have been drafted collaboratively with the input of the ILO, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Global Unions Federations, and the International Organisation of Employers. Earlier this year, the ILO released a new analysis revealing that profits derived from forced labor in the private sector reached a record $236 billion in 2023, marking a 37% increase since records began in 2014. Previous work from the World Benchmarking Alliance has revealed that half of the world’s biggest companies are unable to prove they are aligning with UN requirements on human rights. 

The consultation process is open to a broad range of stakeholders, including companies, investors, civil society organizations, and academics. The GRI encourages participation from all interested parties to ensure that the revised standards are comprehensive and effective in addressing the diverse needs and concerns of different stakeholders. 

The GRI’s commitment to aligning its standards with international guidelines underscores its dedication to promoting responsible business practices worldwide. By ensuring that the revised standards are in line with those set by the ILO, UN, and OECD, the GRI aims to provide a coherent and unified approach to labor and human rights reporting. 

The GRI’s review of its labor-related standards represents a significant step towards improving corporate transparency and accountability in relation to labor practices and human rights. Through this initiative, the GRI seeks to provide companies with the tools they need to better report on their impacts on workers, ultimately contributing to the broader goal of sustainable and responsible business practices. Stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the consultation process and provide their feedback to help shape the future of labor and human rights reporting. 

 

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungaihttp://www.edwardmungai.com/
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via mailto:edward@edwardmungai.com

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