Many CEOs are forging ahead with due diligence despite the new president’s determination to roll back key legislation

The pressure for US companies to fill a void on human rights-related issues may be getting stronger, the deeper the world gets into a Donald Trump presidency.

No US company was a top-performer in the new Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, but six, including Kellogg, the cereal conglomerate (see box), Coca-Cola and Nike, fell into the second band.

US companies haven’t traditionally positioned human rights as a focus area for improvement and perhaps this isn’t surprising. As the UK academics Stephanie Khoury and David Whyte explore in their 2017 book Corporate Human Rights Violations: Global prospects for Legal Action, in the last decades corporate rights have tended to outweigh human rights in courts of law.

This is magnified with the election of Donald Trump. In reviewing the US president’s first 100 days in office, Khoury and White say his words, actions, and executive orders show disdain for most human rights issues. Instead he is intensely focused on removal of what he sees as unnecessary regulations on business.

This has direct bearing on how human rights concerns are perceived and handled by a system that is already driven by corporate interests, critics say.

“It’s an administration rife with conflicts of interest and opportunities for corruption,” says...

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