A rights-based approach does not only have implications for the actions an organisation takes, it also has implications for the way an agency does its work. The organisational culture, systems and procedures should reflect human rights principles and standards: equity, non-discrimination, participation, accountability and best interests of the child.

Save the Children has set forth some questions for exploring a rights-based approach to organisation and management.

Questions to promote equity, non-discrimination and inclusion in the workplace:

  • Does our workforce (and that of our partners) reflect the diversity of society according to gender, age, disability, ethnicity and religion? For example, employing disabled people sends a strong message to others inside and outside the organisation that everyone has the right to decent work. It challenges discrimination and exclusion.
  • Is the office accessible for people with physical disabilities?
  • How am I affected by issues of equity, non-discrimination and inclusion?
  • Are there people that I discriminate against or that I exclude?
  • What is the meaning of equity, non-discrimination and inclusion for our organisation and our work?
  • Does our organisation discriminate against or exclude some people? Which people?

Human rights principles, standards and value:

  • Do all staff and partners have a basic understanding of the principles and standards of human rights? Are they committed to these standards?

Child protection – from abuse by childcare workers, relief workers, etc:

  • Do we have organisational policies against child abuse and sexual harassment?
  • Are job applicants screened to prevent people with a record of abuse from joining the organisation?

Participation and empowerment:

  • How participatory is our organisation? How are partners and stakeholders (children and adults) involved in organisational decision-making? Who makes the important decisions? How easy is it for information to travel up the organisational hierarchy?
  • Are organisational procedures helping or holding back participatory approaches to work?
  • Are we listening to and consulting with children and adults in assessments, monitoring, etc?
  • Are we providing information about our work to children and adults (transparency)?
  • Are we using local resources and are we working with local structures and institutions?
  • What work-related decisions am I participating in?
  • Where do I feel empowered in my job?
  • What does participation mean for our organisation and our work?
  • Who should participate? In what?
  • What does empowerment mean for our organisation and our work?
  • Who should be empowered? To do what?

Internal and external accountability:

  • Are we accountable to the people we are working for, or just to our donors, the board of directors, our supporters/members and the government?
  • What are the organisational accountability mechanisms towards partners and  communities? How does the organisation report to partners and communities?
  • Are we assessing the situation to understand the needs of children and adults?
  • Are we carrying out stakeholder analyses and are we assessing the impact of our work?
  • To whom am I accountable?
  • Who is accountable to me?
  • To whom is our organisation accountable?
  • What does accountability mean in our organisation?
  • What are current mechanisms for strengthening our organisation’s accountability?

Reproduced with permission from "Promoting Rights-Based Approaches: Experiences and Ideas from Asia and the Pacific Experiences and Ideas from Asia and the Pacific", by Joaquim Theis for Save the Children Sweden - South-East Asia Pacific regional office (2004), p. 49.