ESG (environment, social and corporate governance) issues, including human rights, have increasingly become a board level concern as the trend towards stakeholder capitalism and regulatory intervention on the topic has grown. 

Actions to impose statutory responsibilities on directors, to introduce programmes on specific issues (such as forced labour and conflict minerals), to mandate disclosure and transparency, and to threaten the corporate licence to operate through sanctions or restrictions on procurement, have all contributed to an increasing corporate focus on human rights that we expect only to heighten over the next few years. 

In the UK, directors are subject to a duty to consider the impact of a company’s operations on the community and the environment. Human rights considerations come within that limb of the duty (which itself is part of a wider duty on directors to promote the success of a company). 

Read the full article as originally published in Ethical Boardroom here.


Beatriz Pessôa de Araújo is a partner based in Baker McKenzie's London office and has more than 30 years of experience leading on and advising clients on business critical transactions and matters. Following service, on a full-time basis, of a four-year term on the Global Board of Baker & McKenzie, her practice has focused on corporate governance best practices, including board advisory, director duties, stakeholder governance and subsidiary governance, for both UK companies as well as global groups. She has supported the World Economic Forum as an expert on governance projects and has written various articles on corporate governance topics. She won "Best in Corporate Governance" in 2018 at the Euromoney Women in Business Law Awards Legal 500. Since serving on the Firm's Global Executive Committee (2009-2013), Beatriz is spearheading Baker McKenzie's Corporate Governance Group. Beatriz' practice focuses on advising boards and multinational groups on company law, in particular director duties, and corporate governance matters and best practice approaches to embed governance and values in organisations with a view to companies building trust with all stakeholders and third parties, including regulators. She also advises clients in Spain, Portugal and Latin America investing into the UK and Europe. Beatriz serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Canning House since 1 January 2018.


Francesca Richmond is a partner in the Baker McKenzie Dispute Resolution team based in London. Francesca specializes in the litigation and investigation of high value commercial and regulatory enforcement matters with a focus on class actions and mass torts litigation. Her practice spans ethics, governance and human rights in addition to litigation of antitrust, consumer and data privacy law.