Demonstrating respect

Communication directors should influence senior management to make human rights part of the company strategy

An increasingly large number of multi-national corporations (MNCs) are actively assuming their responsibility to demonstrate their respect for human rights in the workplace, not just within the “four walls” of their own premises, but both upstream and downstream along their value chain, i.e. with suppliers and distributors of the goods or services they produce.

As a result, most MNCs today have made public commitments to develop and put in place policies, as well as due diligence and remediation processes, in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how the company addresses its human rights impacts, either directly, or indirectly through their business partners.

These policies focus mainly on fostering open and inclusive workplaces and include provisions on respect for human rights, supplier guiding principles, and community and stakeholder engagement.

Consequently, from a company perspective, the concept of human rights in the workplace is not something that falls under the exclusive remit of the human resources department. In-house public affairs and communication directors have a critical role to play in the implementation of such policies – both internally and externally – as companies become less defensive and more transparent on issues that have been identified, as well as in the corrective actions that are being implemented.

Pablo Largacha

Pablo Largacha became vice president, public affairs and communications for The Coca-Cola Company in Asia Pacific in June 2014. Before moving to Singapore, he led the public affairs and communications teams in several Latin American markets. Previously, Pablo worked for the corporate public affairs team in the company’s headquarters in Atlanta, where he was responsible for meeting with investors, trade unions, government agencies, shareowners, NGOs and academics to help advance the company’s global workplace and human rights practices.