Head, Human Rights and Social Standards

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

About the RSPO

RSPO is a not-for-profit that unites stakeholders from the 7 sectors of the palm oil industry: oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.

The RSPO has more than 4,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain. They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO.
You can find further details on their website https://rspo.org/

Head, Human Rights & Social Standards Role Profile

At RSPO, we bring together all actors within the palm oil supply chain to initiate change that will push the industry towards elevating the protection of human rights, to ensure the production of sustainable palm oil.
The RSPO Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) was formed in 2014, with the objective of overseeing the successful implementation of the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) and to provide the RSPO Secretariat and RSPO members with a better understanding to effectively implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Social issues related to palm oil operations are among the most difficult to identify and audit, as well as the most challenging to manage or remediate. These include, but are not limited to; land rights, migrant workers’ rights, deceptive recruitment, forced labour, freedom of association, child labour, gender discrimination, undocumented workers, and FPIC processes.
The Head of Human Rights & Social Standards is responsible for supporting the Director, Standard Development in leading and ensuring the development and interpretation of RSPO standards, specifically in the area of these human rights, labour standards, and social challenges.
The incumbent will also act as the external focal point in matters relating to human rights and social standards for the RSPO and will provide advice of strategic and policy significance to the organisation on the global stage.

Duties and Responsibilities

Duties include but will not be limited to the following: 
  1. Oversee the implementation and continuous improvement of the RSPO Strategy on Human Rights and Social Standards
  2. Ensure the development and revision of relevant key documents, procedures and guidelines relating to human rights and social standards are in line with recognised international guidelines including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and are based on best practices and/or requirements of relevant national standards.
  3. Act as the RSPO focal point, spokesperson and reference on matters relating to human rights, including representing the RSPO in relevant international events and forums.
  4. Provide expertise and engage stakeholders at a local, regional and global level in a professional, consistent and evidence-based manner to ensure RSPO standards are developed and interpreted accurately.
  5. Ensure close contacts with relevant national and international human rights institutions, executive and legislative authorities, law enforcement, labour unions and civil society groups engaged in the palm oil industry.
  6. Analyse regional and international trends in precedents pertaining to human rights, including violations of extant human rights within the palm oil industry, and support innovation, adoption of best practices, development and continuous improvement of relevant tools/systems/approaches in line with the RSPO Theory of Change.
  7. Provide leadership to ensure effective facilitation of the relevant committees and working groups within the RSPO on matters related to human rights and social standards.
  8. Ensure timely and adequate communication and socialisation of RSPO standards, procedures and guidelines to relevant stakeholders related to human rights and social standards.
  9. Provide authoritative advice and guidance to senior management and staff of the RSPO and contribute to the formulation of impactful strategies and policies.
  10. Oversee the management of activities undertaken by the Human Rights & Social Standards Unit and ensure that its activities are carried out in a timely manner and coordinate its work with other relevant Departments and/or Units within the RSPO Secretariat.
  11. Provide leadership and manage the day-to-day operations of the Human Rights & Social Standards Unit, including preparation of strategic plans/budgets. reporting on programme/budget performance, overseeing staff selection processes and evaluation of staff performance, and providing guidance and support to staff of the Unit.
Apart from the duties stated above, to perform any duty or duties reasonably assigned.
Authority to Decide:
  •  In agreement with Management

Required Competencies

Technical & Professional Knowledge:
  • A detailed understanding of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  • A background in implementing wide-reaching Human Rights programmes in complex international organisations.
  • Able to engage with a diverse stakeholder base, including NGOs, businesses, finance institutes, and Governments.
  • Good understanding of the work of the RSPO and its standards.
  • Familiar with other sustainability schemes (e.g., Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance etc.)
  • Proficiency in MS Office applications (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)
Essential Skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people of different backgrounds and diverse political views while maintaining impartiality and objectivity with tact and diplomacy in dealing with both external stakeholders and multinational staff.
  • Demonstrable organisational, analytical, communication and interpersonal skills
  • Good understanding of both the human rights and social situation in key RSPO jurisdictions including Asia, Africa, and Latin America
  • High integrity and a good team player
  • Goal oriented and organised
  • Self-motivated and self-directed
  • Ability to manage and coach a diverse and talent team under pressure.
  • Strong in strategic and negotiation skills

Qualifications and Experience

  • Advanced degree in law, human rights, political science, international relations, public policy, or equivalent.
  • Minimum 10 years of relevant, diversified and progressively responsible professional experience including at least 5 years at the management level in a global or regional setting.
  • Experience in human rights programme development and political analysis, including the production of reports, verbal and written briefings to C-Suite leaders

Location of Role

  • This position can be located in any South East Asia location that has good travel connections (COVID-19 permitting), particularly Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta.
Terms of Appointment
Full- time permanent role.

How to Apply? 

If you wish to be considered for this position, please complete the Application Form below 12th March 2021. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence as we pride ourselves on our professional service.

If you have an initial query rather than an application, kindly email us at [email protected].

SRI Executive is exclusively retained by RSPO to undertake this assignment.

Application form