Banks are also 'changemakers'

Featuring top speakers and an international audience, the second Human Rights Conference focused on a pressing issue: How can the bank use its influence to defend human rights? Watch the compilation of the main messages of speakers, including Kailash Satyarti, founder of the Global March against Child Labour.

Human rights are a priority to ABN AMRO, a message we clearly conveyed at our first Human Rights Conference in 2014. Since then, we have taken another major step forward by signing the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework in mid-2015, making ABN AMRO the first financial institution to adopt these standards to report on its human rights efforts.

Sensitive themes

The second edition of the Human Rights Conference had a stronger impact as a result of our commitment to the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. The conference theme ‘Business and Human Rights’, 350 visitors and a worldwide livestream were the ideal backdrop for defining the responsibilities of all of the parties in ABN AMRO’s value chain. The conference was held on 9 December and was followed the next day by two meetings of experts on children’s rights in the informal sector and human trafficking.

'Making tangible progress'

Kailash Satyarti, Indian activist and winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize, was the keynote speaker of the Human Rights Conference. He has been fighting child labour for thirty years and claims ‘Banks are not only “money makers” but also “change makers”’. While a bank like ABN AMRO can play an important role in financing businesses, it also has the clout to bring about social change. Corinne Dettmeijer, National Reporter on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, showed us the effects of human trafficking in the Netherlands, emphasising that ‘We must learn how to recognise human trafficking by learning to look carefully’. Caroline Rees is president of Shift, a non-profit organisation that translates the basic principles of human rights into clearly defined reporting standards for organisations. She pointed out that ‘Companies that take responsibility help to eliminate violations of human rights in their chains.’ Watch a compilation of the main messages.

Next steps

After the conference, all participants – clients, employees and other stakeholders – were handed the new booklet “ABN AMRO and Human Rights – Our path towards respecting human rights”. We wrote this booklet to share our knowledge and efforts, and to encourage stakeholders to give this issue priority. A week after the conference, we held a survey, asking stakeholders to name ABN AMRO’s main human rights issues. The survey will help us ensure that we are indeed tackling the most pressing issues.