CHALLENGE: Starwood hotels & resorts sought to develop a comprehensive human rights strategy that effectively surfaced and managed human rights risks across its global business operations.
Through a two-year partnership, Article One worked with Starwood to develop and implement a comprehensive human rights strategy that would align the company with the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights while modeling leadership for the tourism sector. Building on a corporate human rights impact assessment and gap analysis to determine salient human rights issues for the company, Article One worked with Starwood’s Social Responsibility team to:
Build the case
The first step was to develop the business and moral case for investing in human rights. This included reviewing the financial and reputational impacts of failing to effectively manage human rights, and identifying how investment in human rights aligns with Starwood’s corporate values and mission.
Engage Internal Champions
Recognizing that Starwood had operations in nearly 100 countries, it was imperative to engage a wide cross-section of the company. Once the business case was developed, Article One engaged a range of corporate leaders—from human resources and legal to franchise operations and supply chain—to build internal awareness and understanding of human rights and learn how they could work collaboratively to manage human rights risks for Starwood. This included targeted engagements—through scenario planning, workshops and interviews—across senior-level functions within the company.
DEVELOP A HUMAN RIGHTS STRATEGY
Given the solid foundation established through internal engagement, Starwood's Social Responsibility team had a strong remit to develop a comprehensive approach to surfacing and managing human rights risks across its global operations. Taking a five year horizon, Article One developed and supported the implementation of a robust approach to human rights due diligence. This included:
- Updating the company’s Human Rights Statement
- Providing responsible sourcing guidance for Starwood’s Supply Chain team
- Developing tools for conducting ongoing human rights due diligence across high-risk markets.
ESTABLISH A HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Finally, to ensure senior level support and oversight of the strategy, Article One partnered with Starwood to establish an internal Human Rights Council. The Council, which met quarterly, was co-chaired by Starwood’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Human Resources and included senior representatives from across the business. The Council was charged with overseeing the company’s approach to human rights and communicating Council decisions and outcomes to the wider company.
The project elevated the management of human rights to C-suite executives and resulted in Board level engagement. As a result of the strategy, awareness and understanding of human rights was increased across the company, human rights priorities were integrated into existing policies and procedures, and the company’s overall objective of embedding respect for human rights into relevant business decisions was realized.
In addition, through Starwood’s strong commitment on human rights, the company was seen as a leader not only by peer companies, but also by external stakeholders focused on responsible business conduct and human rights.