Human Rights & Tech Supply Chains




Human rights & tech supply chains

2 April 2019


Added 01-Jan-1970

Human rights and social responsibility have become increasingly bigger issues for all business sectors. Customers, employees, investors, NGOs and government stakeholders are demanding that organisations are transparent on how they work, especially on their work around human rights in their operations and supply chains.

However, for many businesses turning policies and commitments into action has been challenging which is why the UN approved the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, 31 principles which businesses need to consider when it comes to managing their approach to human rights and mitigating the risks in their operations and supply chains. Understanding how to apply the UNGPs and operationalise a rigorous policy human rights is the theme of a free conference looking at how the tech sector can enhance their response to human rights risks.

This free one-day conference looks at what the sector has done, what more it can do and you will learn from a range of businesses how human rights issues have been approached. Specific issues include:

  • How do companies manage and mitigate human rights risks in their operations and supply chains?
  • An introduction to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • What are the human rights risks for tech firms now and in the future?
  • What tools, guides and support is out there for businesses?
  • What does the law require and what do stakeholders, investors and customers expect?
  • How to operationalise human rights programmes and secure senior buy in.
  • What are the human rights risks for tech firms now and in the future.
  • What tools and guides are out there for tech?
  • The legislative demands, for example the UK Modern Slavery Act and EU Conflict Minerals Regulation.


09:15 – 10:00 Arrival & networking

10:00 – 10:05 Welcome & intros

Antony Walker, techUK Deputy CEO introduces the event.

10:05 - 10:30 Presentation: Presentation: The UN Guiding Principles and the Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: Susannah McLaren, Advisor, Shift

View from the leading center of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights on the expectations of the tech sector.

10:30 – 11:30 Panel: Risks across the tech sector – what we have learned so far?

Panel looking at what are the specific human rights facing tech firms in their operations and supply chains including regional variations, the role of partnerships, legislative requirements (ie the Modern Slavery Act, Conflict Mineral Regulation), identifying supply chain risks, labour rights plus where and how to do due diligence.


  • Emiko Singh (Chair), Associate, White & Case LLP
  • Laura Okkonen, Senior Manager, Human Rights, Vodafone
  • Helen Grundy, Sustainability Specialist, Hitachi
  • Richard Phillips, Director, Legal Initiatives (CORE), Accenture

11:30 - 12:00 Networking break

12:00 – 13:00 Panel: Operationalising and embedding human rights across an organisation

This panel of practitioners and technologists looks at what companies are doing to implement and embed the UN Guiding Principles and how to ingrain a culture of human rights across often complex organisations. This includes looking at what companies need to do, what job functions, systems, processes, investment, policies etc need to be planned for and designed. The panel also looks at solutions and due diligence to ensure everyone is onside and building awareness internally.


  • Colleen Theron (Chair), Director, Ardea International
  • Pratap Tambe, Head, TCS Blockchain, Tata
  • Charlotte Kirby, VP Global Strategic Relations,
  • Latifa Chomoko, Senior Corporate Sustainability Manager, PWC

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00 - 14:25 Presentation: View from a non tech sector company & responding when abuses are found. Carly Bilsbrough, Global Operations Manager for Responsible Sourcing, Shop Direct

This presentation looks at how the retail sector has approached human rights to demonstrate what lessons can be applied in tech. The presentation will also look at due diligence, enforcement and how to respond effectively when instances of abuses have been found.

14:25-15:20 Panel: Tools, guides and benchmarks

This panel outlines some of the guidance and support available to businesses, how companies are judged and what written policies and guides are out there? Issues under discussion include the techUK cyber guidance, techUK human rights template and other available frameworks.


  • Rae Lindsay, Partner, Clifford Chance (Chair)
  • Dan Neale, Programme Director, Corporate Human Rights Benchmark
  • Susanne Baker, Head of Environment and Compliance, techUK
  • Mark Davis, Advisor (Cyber and Comms), Department for International Trade
  • Mayank Chandla, Procurement Technology Lead, IBM

15:20 – 15:30 Networking break

15:30– 15:50 Presentation: Risks businesses may overlook: Bill Skeates, Supply Chain Manager, Sky

Why the sector needs to look beyond core production areas and take a wider view, looking at recruitment agencies, low-skilled agency staff, event staff and non-core products like uniforms, giveaways and trade show merchandise.

15:50 – 16:45 Panel: Future-gazing: what form will future tech sector human rights risks take?

The final panel of the day will examine the emerging and future human rights risks that the sector will face in the coming years and what businesses can do to best understand and mitigate these risks. For example, what new materials, regions, operating models will develop and what new auditing and compliance processes will be needed to effectively respond.


  • Vinous Ali (Chair), Head of Policy, techUK
  • Felicitas Weber, KnowTheChain Project Lead at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
  • Charlotte Brierley, Senior Responsible Business Manager, Sky
  • Jason Harrison, Client Director, Sopra Steria

16:45 – 16:50 Close, thankyous & next steps

Craig Melson, techUK

16:50 – 18:30 Networking drinks