The role of human rights in business

100% Human at Work_Jean Oelwang
100% Human at Work_Jean Oelwang
Anna Gowdridge the Human At Work Director for Virgin Unite posing on a balcony
by Anna Gowdridge
14 July 2021
The Elders’ State of Hope addresses the biggest challenges of our time in a unique week of talks and digital discussions. In response to Zeid Hussein talk on defending human rights, Director of 100% Human at Work, Anna Gowdridge, shares her thoughts on the importance of human rights in business.

As the 100% Human at Work initiative has developed, we have had the honour to partner and collaborate with The Elders, particularly in relation to human rights and the role of business.

100% Human at Work is focused on shaping a future of work that serves humanity, underpinned by the UN Principles on Human Rights as a basic standard.

The last 18 months have been a time of crisis for the whole world, we are slowly learning how to deal with a devastating pandemic that has changed all our lives, whilst we also continue to see vast inequality and injustice in the world.

100% Human at Work

Whilst for most this has been a challenging time, we have also seen the best that humanity has to offer. The kindness of the human spirit, the innovation and ingenuity of the scientific and healthcare communities, the rebirth of the idea of community, and the ability to show humanity and vulnerability.

That is why 100% Human at Work is supporting The Elders’ #StateofHope conversation, a week of online talks and discussions reflecting on Nelson’s Mandela’s legacy. With so much change in the world, we are witnessing a moment in time in which we can fundamentally reimagine the systems in which we do business.

Within the 100% Human at Work community, we have seen organisations working to support refugees, building safety nets for workers without protections, tirelessly challenging inequality and inequity, innovating to ensure the physical safety of workers in dangerous conditions, and designing solutions to create employment opportunities for marginalised communities.

State of Hope_The Elders
State of Hope_The Elders

With brave leadership we believe business can prioritise equality and human rights in a way it never has before. The Elders have shown us that there can be an alternative approach to imagining the future of work and that the most challenging thing we can do is take an honest look at ourselves and the way we do business.

I would therefore ask each of you to take the time to think about your own organisations, and how they can embed and enhance the human rights agenda. What more can you do in the world?

I would love to hear about the changes you are going to make and ask you all to join me in supporting The Elders #StateofHope.

Watch The Elders’ State of Hope talks from 12 July - join the Elders live online on 16 July (3pm London / 10am New York) - and take part in the discussion via #StateOfHope and