Our key takeaway: More than five years after Oxfam began its Behind the Barcodes campaign, supermarket companies are making new progress on human rights by conducting and publishing human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) and follow-up action plans. Oxfam celebrates this progress, but its analysis finds that there is much room for improvement to make these HRIAs both meaningful and effective. Companies should strengthen their HRIAs by centering them around engagement with affected stakeholders, especially women and other vulnerable groups; assessing against all internally recognised human rights; applying a lens of risks to people rather than risks to the business; and exploring root causes that could include supermarkets’ own practices. Oxfam also calls on companies to take their HRIAs from paper to practice by investing in internal capacity and knowledge-building on human rights; involving rightsholders in the design and implementation of action plans; applying timebound targets and accountability measures for actions; monitoring effectiveness; and increasing transparency of their progress.
Oxfam published Towards Meaningful Human Rights Impact Assessments: From Supermarket Commitments to Best Practice Action (January 2024) as a part of its broader Behind the Barcodes campaign: