Academy Changemakers: Taking Ambitious Action for Human Rights

Lucita Jasmin, Director for Sustainability & External Affairs at APRIL Group, recently participated in a candid fireside chat, titled “Taking ambitious action for human rights” hosted by Cynthia Muffuh, Head of Human Rights and Gender at the UN Global Compact, as part of the United Nations Global Compact Academy Changemaker series.

As part of the UN Global Compact’s learning platform, the Academy Changemaker series features some of the most influential and innovative people working to make the world a better place.

During the session, Lucita shared her thoughts on the crucial intersection of the private sector and human rights, as well as giving insight into how APRIL supports human rights and local communities throughout its operational zones.

The Business Imperative for Human Rights

The discussion opened with Lucita underscoring the moral imperative for corporates to respect human rights. With 3.3 billion people globally employed in the private sector, constituting 40% of the global population, she emphasised the role of the UN Global Compact and local networks as essential guides, and noted that human rights should not necessitate a business case, but rather should be an ingrained and fundamental aspect of business operations.

Building on this, Lucita delved into a study conducted by the Harvard Business School, revealing that people account for 33% of the drivers of organisational performance. She stressed the pivotal role of treating people right, asserting that human rights are at the core of driving business productivity, performance, strategy, and transformation. Lucita noted that human rights must be fundamental to the employee value proposition, where businesses are held accountable for their treatment of people.

“It’s about respecting and integrating human rights into the way we operate,” she said.

Lucita explained APRIL Group’s approach, saying: “Environmental and social issues are two sides of the same coin.” Operating in a developing economy like Indonesia, the company recognises the interconnection between environmental challenges and socio-economic drivers.

Lucita provided insights into APRIL initiatives such as promoting gender equality and setting ambitious targets to eradicate extreme poverty up to 50 kilometres from its operational boundaries, and its efforts to reduce stunting in rural Indonesia.

Navigating Local Challenges in a Global Market

Acknowledging the challenges of adapting global frameworks to a developing economy context, Lucita discussed the importance of understanding local social and economic contexts and incorporating local considerations into the company’s sustainability policies and commitments.

“We need to respond to local conditions, while at the same time being able to demonstrate that we align with global standards and that we’re responding to the global stakeholder expectations,” she said. Lucita also highlighted the importance of implementation and action on the ground. “Commitments matter, but this is really what delivers impact and ultimately also what builds trust”.

The Future: Collective Action and Continuous Progress

When discussing how an organisation can better promote human rights values internally, Lucita emphasised the significance of internal engagement in organisations. “We need to engender these values throughout the organisation. The transformation can only happen if you have full internal buy-in,” she said.

Lucita spoke about how APRIL has used the UN Global Compact Business and Human Rights Accelerator Programme, facilitated at the local level by the Indonesia Global Compact Network, to train up to 300 management team members. In turn, this has helped to create internal champions for human rights and underlines the importance of fostering a culture of responsibility and ownership within organisations.

Looking ahead, Lucita highlighted the need for continued delivery on human rights commitments, the long-term journey of adopting a human rights lens in business and the importance of collaboration with industry stakeholders to drive sector-wide change. She also shared her hope for a future where businesses actively contribute to advancing human rights, stressing the power of collective action.

APRIL’s Human Rights Journey

In January 2022, APRIL published its Human Rights Policy to reinforce its commitment to respecting and managing human rights. The policy formally commits APRIL to operating in accordance with a number of internationally recognized human rights conventions and standards, including the International Bill of Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Guided by this policy, APRIL has since developed and implemented a Human Rights Due Diligence system and conducted an independent Human Rights Impact Assessment. Based on the findings of this assessment, APRIL is implementing a range of initiatives across the organisation to improve female representation in its workforce, to enhance living and working conditions for contract workers and their families, particularly children, who often accompany them, and to address other identified human rights impacts.

The company’s efforts in this area will also help it deliver on its APRIL2030 Inclusive Progress targets and are aligned with the human rights commitments in the RGE Group Sustainability Policy.