Being A Rights Champion
Legal rights in social enterprise module
When We Talk About Rights
We talk about rights all the time without realising it. When we are writing service level agreements or contracts for new team members, we create documents stating how we will uphold peoples’ rights. When we are meeting with local governments and councils to talk about improving service provision to rural areas, we are identifying areas where the state could improve rights in reality for our communities. When we are having a cuppa and a chat with our colleagues about pay, progression at work or examples of unfairness we see in the world around us, we are raising awareness of inequities around us.
We can be a rights champion in all of our work. Whether we are planning a new project or services and creating a budget. Whether we are creating a new collaboration between organisations and writing up partnership agreements. If we are writing a new funding proposal or business case. As well as when we are marketing our organisation and services across the web and social media. It is super important to consider rights in any evaluation of our social enterprises too.
We can all provide leadership in the area of legal rights and a rights-based approach. Whether we are a founder, director, chief executive officer, an aspiring leader or line manager.
One of the best ways to do this is to learn more about the approach and create learning opportunities within your social enterprise.
Equally Ours have seven tips for leaders as part of their toolkit:
- Link how rights are essential to achieving your organisational aims whenever you communicate externally or internally
- Don’t use equivocal language (don’t be ambiguous so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself)
- Be clear of what you expect of your team
- Expect a positive, professional approach as well as progress
- Empower wider colleagues to be champions
- Embed activities into your usual organisational processes and plans
- Assess success and work fairly, don’t aim too unrealistically high
Many funders and investors are increasingly interested to know how your approach, services or products and evaluation of success consider human rights and equalities.
If you are preparing a funding application and you want to learn more about what you can strengthen about your approach, the following might be helpful:
- Scottish Human Rights Commission’s PANEL assessment tool will help you benchmark your existing performance against a rights based approach
- You might like to work through the prompt questions about identifying rights in your work section
- Consider which specific tools and activities you can use in your project or service design including Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessment
- Read Corra, Making Rights Real and The Human Rights Consortium’s report about a human rights funding agenda which includes examples of both funders who are using human rights and an annex which includes organisational examples of using human rights as a tool for change
Consider attending THRE’s training for the third sector about a human rights and equalities first approach.
Talking about rights in our everyday work and externally with partners, funders and the public can be challenging. There is lots of legal jargon. We all have different phrases and frameworks in different sectors too. It can also be a little bit dispiriting as the standards that international conventions like the UN set are really high, and the world isn’t fair yet.
Talking about rights is really important though. It helps us raise awareness of them. It helps us identify where they are not working in reality. And it helps us understand how we can improve them.
Equally Ours have 10 tips for talking about equality, which are useful for conversations about rights including: resisting the urge to myth bust, linking individual stories to overarching structures and solutions, and talking about a better world and how this really is achievable.
The European Network of Equality Bodies Equinet have 10 keys to effectively communicate human rights. The resources include videos and flipcards. The keys include: creating coalitions, harnessing hope, and leading through language by keeping it simple and respectful.
Multimedia Tools to Use
- Fine Acts have created the graphics and image database Reimagining Human Rights where you can download and use the assets through a Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
Further Resources and Reading
- Human Rights Consortium Scotland have a useful resources page about communicating rights Resources – Human Rights Consortium Scotland (hrcscotland.org)
- The UN have a page describing the work of human rights defenders around the world, whether voluntary or in a professional position