The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

A year for people & the planet: 10 New Year’s resolutions for CEOs

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As we all get started on our 2016 resolutions, here are a few goals CEO’s should set for their businesses.

It’s a new year, and while many of us set our goals for being happier and healthier, I’d like to challenge businesses to set their own  resolutions for making 2016 a year of improving their commitments to people and the planet. Since CEOs are often in the best position to set these goals and signal new priorities to their staff, these recommended actions are for them. So, without further adieu, 10 New Year’s resolutions for every CEO should make to advance human rights and sustainability this year:

  1. Read the UN Guiding Principles – The Protect, Respect and Remedy framework was endorsed in 2011 by the United Nations and applies to all businesses and reinforces the principles that businesses must respect the human rights of individuals and communities.
  2. Re-configure your Corporate Social Responsibility department from one with a philanthropic objective to one that embeds human rights respect and environmental sustainability throughout your core business operations.
  3. Take note of your litigation and lobbying efforts, to what extend do they counter worker rights, tax justice, and environmental regulation? Consider how to re-align your government relations and litigation efforts for progressive policies that reinforce the rights of others.
  4. Make gender equality and diversity within your company a key performance indicator and put some budget behind achieving it.
  5. Think of sustainability as a part of your product or service that can give you a competitive edge and think of doing less harm rather than more good.
  6. Visit a community that may be negatively impacted by your business operations or supply chain.
  7. Consider your workers as your greatest asset rather than a cost to be manipulated.
  8. Talk to your investors about the risks your company faces from climate change and how you will address them.
  9. Consider how you are externalizing costs in your business and work to make them internal.
  10. Take one action that will make your company’s policies and practices more transparent to stakeholders.

The good news is that companies finished 2015 by becoming more aware of promoting human rights and sustainability in their business operations and supply chains, so we’re on the right track for success. Let’s keep the momentum going and make 2016 a banner year for people and the planet.

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