- The Case for Leverage-Based Corporate Human Rights Responsibility
Should companies' human rights responsibilities arise, in part, from their "leverage" -- their ability to influence otherss actions through their relationships? Special Representative John Ruggie rejected this proposition in the United Nations Framework for business and human rights. I argue that leverage is a source of responsibility where there is a morally significant connection between the company and a rights-holder or rights-violator, the company is able to make a contribution to ameliorating the situation, it can do so at modest cost, and the threat to human rights is substantial. In such circumstances companies have a responsibility to exercise leverage even though they did nothing to contribute to the situation. Such responsibility is qualified, not categorical; graduated, not binary; context-specific; practicable; consistent with the social role of business; and not merely a negative responsibility to avoid harm but a positive responsibility to do good....
Citation: Wood, Stepan. 2011. "The Case for Leverage-Based Corporate Human Rights Responsibility." Business Ethics Quarterly 22(1):63-98.
Areas of Interest: Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Rights