Vulnerable groups

Children, indigenous peoples or migrant workers - some groups run a higher risk than others of being adversely affected by companies’ activities. Whoever they are, companies have a duty to respect their special rights.

Companies have a responsibility to analyse how their activities impact on basic human rights. Special measures are often required for groups that are particularly at risk of being adversely affected by operations, where specific conventions must be considered.

Same rights – special measures

People who have left their countries and families can be particularly vulnerable to abuses by employers. Those who do not speak the local language or lack social networks and knowledge about their rights can easily fall victim to exploitation. Migrant workers constitute an ever-growing group that many companies can expect to find in their supply chains.

Companies may need to give particular consideration to vulnerable groups who are directly or indirectly affected by its business activities. For example, a mine or hydroelectric power station can affect indigenous peoples’ opportunities to support themselves through hunting and fishing. For many of these groups, there are initiatives and guidelines that have been developed for various sectors.

Children can be affected in various ways by companies’ activities, for example through child labour or by the fact that their parents endure poor working conditions and are unable to support them. There are guidelines that also clarify companies’ responsibilities towards children, who rarely have the opportunity to demand their rights and should always be regarded as a vulnerable group.