Comment: Training emerging market multinationals on human rights due diligence – lessons from Indonesia and Kenya

At the start of this year, we had the opportunity and pleasure to train business managers in Jakarta and Nairobi on how to respect human rights in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The courses were organised in cooperation with the local Global Compact Networks and supported through funding by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Human Rights and Democracy Programme. In total, more than 70 participants registered for the three trainings. Participants came from a broad range of business sectors (ICT, food, finance, manufacturing, mining, utilities etc.) both local companies and subsidiaries of multinationals, and also included a small number of NGOs and academia.

In both countries the trainings highlighted the strong need for awareness raising and practical guidance on human rights due diligence, especially as large investments are underway or planned in both Kenya and Indonesia. Companies in both countries mainly face challenges regarding labour conditions and how to tackle or prevent community conflicts. The relationship with police and security forces or government representatives also presents numerous challenges for local businesses trying to operate responsibly. In contrast to our European training courses, we noticed that the conversations had a different quality, because the topic and challenges discussed felt very real and close for the participants. This clearly underlines the need for multinationals to invest in building the capacity of their managers in emerging markets to deal with human rights related business challenges and to implement due diligence processes locally, something we have been raising repeatedly with our European-based clients in the past.

In both countries, we experienced that the local Global Compact Networks are excellent partners to work with in organising and delivering human rights training for businesses. We also noted the need to “localise” the training content which we achieved by including local case studies and inviting speakers from the respective country to provide concrete inputs.

We are looking forward to continue working in both Indonesia and Kenya as well as in other emerging markets to build business capacity on implementing human rights due diligence.

You can learn more about our training experiences and lessons learned by having a look at our project reports: