Assess the system
A grievance mechanism is a way for employees or external stakeholders to raise complaints or concerns they have about their work environment, treatment and well-being. And for external stakeholders to raise complaints or concerns about the activities of the company and their effects on people’s human rights outside the workplace. It can be about health and safety, discrimination, harassment and also about damage to people’s natural resources affected by a companies’ activities. It serves as a feedback system.
How does this grievance mechanism relate to the speak-up system, hotline, whistle blowing policy, anonymous complaints’ mechanisms your company already may have in place? Some companies already have a structured system in place. What we often see with our clients is that they receive just a few complaints related to human rights a year, sometimes just a handful. Does this mean that there are no complaints? Are these perfect companies? When investigating further, it often means people are not trusting the system. They don’t believe the system can help them or they are afraid to escalate. Afraid of the consequences. Sometimes they prefer to leave the company.
Or in the case of external stakeholders, they did not even know there was a complaints’ mechanism. They were frustrated because nobody listened to them. They turned to demonstrating, protesting or went to the media with their concerns.
How do we help our clients?
We help our clients to assess the effectiveness of the existing grievance mechanism for human rights and support developing more effective remediation. We use the effectiveness criteria of the UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights, developed after elaborate research.
Having an effective system in place that people (including external stakeholders) can go to when their human rights are being harmed, is crucial and becoming mandatory.
Benefits of an effective grievance mechanism are:
- employees or external stakeholders will feel heard and valued.
- It also helps the company to identify and resolve any problems that may arise, creating a healthier and supportive work environment.
- It also helps with a more resilient risk management, understanding where and which human rights might be at risk in a timely manner and taking appropriate measures for prevention.
- It creates an open culture where people’s human rights can be discussed.