The first step of GRDD is to establish a gender-responsive policy framework aimed at respecting human rights, including women’s rights, labour rights, and the environment which complies with national and international laws and regulations. Practically, this means that companies evaluate and revise current policies and develop new ones if needed. Supply chain relationships and activities of other business partners should be covered in the policy framework. It is important to engage suppliers in this process and support any needs for capacity building to ensure that they too have strong policies and management systems.
A strong commitment to GRDD at a company’s leadership level communicates that human rights are important and need to be looked at with a robust gender lens. It also shows that non-compliance is unacceptable. The tone set by corporate leadership and senior management influences the actions of lower-level managers and supervisors, employees, and supplier networks. It also ensures that all stakeholders have a common understanding about the company’s position on the importance of gender and human rights, and are empowered to take action where necessary. Step 1 can be divided into three actions:
- Design and implement gender-responsive policies on human rights issues that articulate the company’s commitments to these issues;
- Embed these policies into management systems to ensure that they are implemented as part of the regular business processes;
- Incorporate expectations and policies on human rights, including specific reference to women’s rights, into engagement with suppliers and other business relationships.
A gender-responsive policy framework should incorporate the standards against which GRDD is to be conducted, adhering to national and international standards and laws. It can consist of one single policy or several stand-alone policies.
The policy framework should:
- recognise that human rights risks, labour risks, and environmental risks impact people, and more specifically women, differently;
- have a strong commitment to conducting GRDD;
- be approved at the most senior level of the company. Senior level responsibility should be assigned for its implementation;
- be informed by relevant internal and external expertise, including gender expertise, and stakeholder consultations;
- stipulate the company’s expectations of employees, business partners and other parties directly linked to its operations, products or services
- be publicly available and communicated to all employees, suppliers and other business partners;
- be reflected in operational policies and procedures necessary to embed it throughout the enterprise;
- be reviewed and improved on a regular basis in response to developments in GRDD and international standards.