Business & Social Justice

The Sié Center has developed extensive expertise around the social impacts of businesses and the roles that business (alongside civil society groups and governments) play in both promoting and undermining social justice, from human rights to inequality to environmental sustainability. 

Featured Projects

Business & Human Rights Lab

Businesses are often implicated in human rights violations, but the patterns behind this abuse are less clear. Spearheaded by Dr. Tricia D. Olsen, the Business and Human Rights Lab is compiling a new comprehensive dataset — the Corporations & Human Rights Database Project (CHRD) — on allegations of corporate human rights abuses and remedy mechanisms. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the CHRD traces allegations of corporate human rights abuses from around the globe, and state and corporate responses (judicial and non-judicial) from 2000 through today. Research at the Business and Human Rights Lab attends to environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations to understand when wrongdoing occurs, and if and when victims gain access to remedy. 

The Business and Human Rights project is managed in collaboration with the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. Support is also provided by the Society for Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) and the Social Sciences Foundation at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

A Pragmatic Approach to Companies and Stakeholder Relations

Do the ways companies engage with stakeholders affect governance and conflict? Professors Avant and Olsen have, both independently and in collaboration, hosted workshops and produced research examining this question. Much of their work focuses on the extractive industry and examines case studies in Peru and the United States to probe the logic behind the research curse. Bringing together concepts from pragmatism and agonism they build a process-based argument to explain more or less productive relations between businesses, governments and society.  

See Also:

Featured Publications

Related Academic Programs

Graduate Certificate in Global Business and Corporate Social Responsibility

Professors Avant and Olsen co-direct the Graduate Certificate in Global Business and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The Certificate is a joint offering between the Daniels College of Business and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and focuses on how businesses manage challenges and opportunities in a globalized world in ways that affect security, prosperity and social justice.

Past Project Highlights

Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: Opportunities and Challenges for Civil Society, Government and Business

In January 2015 the Sié Center, in cooperation with the Daniels College of Business and the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control for Armed Forces (DCAF), hosted a two-day workshop that explored how civil society, business, and government can contribute to multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) to improve business behavior related to human rights. The workshop report can be found here. Several follow-up workshops grew out of this initiative, including a workshop co-sponsored with the U.S. State Department considering creative multilateral organizations (CMOs).  

The 2016 CMO workshop brought together academics thinking about new forms of governance and practitioners who have been closely involved in particular initiatives related to human rights, democracy, and good governance--including the Open Government Partnership, the Freedom Online Coalition, the Community of Democracies, the International Code of Conduct Association, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, and the Voluntary Principles. The aim of the workshop was to inform recommendations on how the U.S. can improve its engagement with these kinds of initiatives moving forward. This workshop was co-sponsored by the Sié Center and the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York's "Rigor and Relevance" initiative, and generously hosted by GWU's Elliott School. A workshop report can be found here.

Also in 2016 the Sié Center joined with the Stanley Foundation and One Earth Future to draft a guide for Cooperative Mutistakeholder Action in Global Governance. Cooperative multistakeholder action is a vital area of global governance, but one where key developments are often not understood. The workshop was to inform Stanley Foundation plans to help advocates and officials better understand and use multistakeholder approaches to global governance to achieve policy change. This workshop brought together a small number of participants to contribute to discussions on whether cooperative multistakeholder action in the context of global governance is a viable approach to policy change, potentially able to break through gridlock, and here to stay. The discussion revolved around the "craft" of multistakeholder processes in global governance, provided guiding principles for different types of multistakeholder action, and recommended ways in which particular practitioners can enhance the effect of multistakeholder processes.