State of the Union: Five key takeaways from Ursula Von der Leyen
17 September 2020
Key points from von der Leyen's state of the union speech [caption id="attachment_14822" align="alignnone" width="640"]...
European Commission has recently published a guide to human rights for SMEs
which you will find attached to this email. This guidebook aims to give SME
entrepreneurs guidance on how to address and minimise risks related to possible
human rights violations that can occur within a company or in its relations
with other businesses, e.g. suppliers. The guide is based on the UN Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights and translates these principles into
the context of European SMEs.
So what exactly are the UN Guiding Principle on
Business and Human Rights?
UN Guiding Principles define what governments and businesses should do in order
to avoid and address negative impacts on human rights by businesses. This guide
focuses on what is expected of businesses. The UN Guiding Principles give all
businesses – small and large – the recipe for what it takes to respect human rights.
What kind of enterprise is this guide for?
guide has been written for small and medium sized enterprises in the European
Union. All enterprises, from small and
medium-sized enterprises through to large multinational corporations, have a
responsibility to respect human rights.
But what are human rights?
rights are the rights we are entitled to simply because we are human beings.
They represent the universally agreed minimum conditions that enable all people
to maintain their dignity. Human rights are inherent to all of us, whatever our
nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour,
religion, language, or any other status.
I manage a company, so why should I take an
interest in human rights?
Like most managers, you probably aim to treat your employees and
customers respectfully. By actively dealing with human rights, you can make
sure that this is the case. It's an opportunity to make sure your business puts
people first and is a business you can be truly proud of.
So will respecting human rights make my
business more profitable?
the answer is yes, but not always and maybe not immediately. Dealing explicitly
with human rights can function as a radar or early-warning system. It enables
you to identify potential problems and to resolve them before they become more
serious and more costly. A human rights focus may also improve customer
relations and reputation, and enhance employees' job satisfaction, with a
positive impact on productivity and efficiency. It may help you to avoid
additional costs associated with attracting and keeping the right staff,
gaining permits or dealing with public opposition to new business ideas you may
have. Avoiding and addressing negative human rights impacts can also inspire innovative
solutions and improvements that help you to be a stronger, more resilient
business. The bottom line is that you have a responsibility to respect human
rights whether or not it brings financial benefits to your business.
My company complies with the law. Isn't that enough?
you are operating in the EU and you comply with the law, you will usually have
come a long way towards ensuring that you do not negatively impact human
rights. For example, complying with health and safety regulation helps you to
avoid negative impacts on the right to life, the right to a safe work
environment and the right to physical and mental health.
Can I deal with human rights within my existing
management processes and systems?
you should be able to respect human rights by adjusting existing processes and
systems. For example, if you carry out risk analyses you may be able to expand
them to include identification of your risks of negative impacts on human
rights. You may also have in place management systems to help you handle health
and safety, environmental impacts or quality more efficiently. Such systems can
be used to help you avoid and address possible negative human rights impacts.
Am I expected to do this on my own?
and no. The responsibility is yours, but you will probably find it useful to
collaborate with others and benefiting from lessons learned. The authorities
will guide you and support you in your initiatives.
Rights considerations in you own activities
1. When you recruit employees…
2. Once you have recruited employees and they are working for you…
3. When setting salaries and deciding
who to promote…
4. When one of your employees gets pregnant or has a pregnant spouse…
5. If you advertise products…
6. If you sell products directly to
7. If your employees work under highly stressful conditions…
8. If your employees work with
9. If your business uses machinery or
The Malta Chamber of SMEs represents over 7,000 members from over 90 different sectors which in their majority are either small or medium sized companies, and such issues like the one we're experiencing right now, it's important to be united. Malta Chamber of SMEs offers a number of different services tailored to its members' individual requirements' and necessities. These range from general services offered to all members to more individual & bespoke services catered for specific requirements.
A membership with Malta Chamber of SMEs will guarantee that you are constantly updated and informed with different opportunities which will directly benefit your business and help you grow. It also entails you to a number of services which in their majority are free of charge and offered exclusively to its members (in their majority all free of charge).