COURSE TITLE: Managing Human Rights in Business


INSTRUCTOR: Faris Natour and Roger McElrath


PREREQUISITE(S): There are no prerequisites for this course.

CLASS FORMAT: The class format is a combination of lectures from the professors and guest speakers (30%), interactive discussion (50%), and case analysis in small working groups (20%).   

REQUIRED READINGS: There is no textbook for this class, and the required reading is relatively light and focused on a few key documents (for example, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; the UN Declaration on Human Rights), current events, corporate policies, and a variety of reports from industry associations and non-governmental organizations. 

BASIS FOR FINAL GRADE: The breakdown for the final grade is as follows: class participation, 15%; mid-term take home exercise, 35%; and team-based project work, 50%. 

ABSTRACT OF COURSE'S CONTENT AND OBJECTIVES:  Imagine where you will be after you graduate from Berkeley Haas.  You may run a start-up clothing label sourcing garments from factories in Bangladesh, or be part of the procurement team for an electronics manufacturer or a high-end jeweler that source minerals from Africa.  How do you ensure that the clothes are made and the minerals extracted under ethical working conditions and by companies that are legal entities?  Alternatively, you may work for a social media platform and when a major customer offers to buy user data you have to determine the implications for your user’s privacy and other critical human rights; you may work for a biotechnology company that has developed a life-saving cancer drug but the R&D costs place the price of the drug out of reach for many who urgently need it; you may be the marketing manager of a major brand facing calls to end a promotional partnership with FIFA as well as threats of boycotts if you do in fact end the partnership.  What should you do?   What can you do?  What is the sustainable business case for the various options?  

Today, business leaders face these and other human rights dilemmas on a daily basis.  Through cases, interactive exercises, class debates, and guest lectures from experts, we will put you in the shoes of a fast-growing community of business managers whose job it is to make sure that their companies and business partners do not vilate human rights.  Applying over 20 years of consulting experience, we will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and tools to identify and address a company’s human rights risks and to leverage the power of business to advance respect for human rights around the world.  Through guest lectures and a visit to San Francisco based sustainability consultancy BSR, students will have the opportunity to engage first hand with business leaders, consultants, and human rights advocates dealing with these issues in real life situations.   In past courses, guest lectures have included leaders from General Mills, Chevron, Facebook, Levi’s, Microsoft, Uber, Accountability Counsel, and BSR.  

This course, one of the first of its kind offered at a business school, will prepare students for this growing field of practice.  It is designed to meet the following learning objectives:



Faris Natour leads the Human Rights and Business Initiative at the Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley Haas. As co-founder of Article One (www.articleoneadvisors.comFaris advises multinational companies on human rights strategy and management. Previously, Faris held various leadership positions at BSR (, a global business network and sustainability consultancy. He led BSR’s global human rights practice from 2011-2015.  Faris received law degrees from George Washington University Law School and Universitaet Regensburg, Germany.  

Roger McElrath has extensive professional experience delivering impactful consulting and research services to companies and other organizations on critical social, community, and environmental issues. His work at BSR in the area of human rights has included a leadership role in developing and implementing methodologies for calculating living wages in multiple countries, assisting in the development of a human rights assessment tools for the extractives and agricultural industries, conducting field-based human rights risk assessments, and providing detailed advice to companies on the content and implementation of supply chain codes of conduct. Roger holds a Master’s degree from the George Washington University in International Affairs