Inside BSR is our monthly series featuring BSR team members from around the world. This month, we connected with Paloma Muñoz Quick, an Associate Director in our NYC office.
Paloma chatted with us about how her life in Chile and Brazil fostered her interest in tackling systemic injustice, her work on investor action on human rights, and how working at BSR supports her commitment to protecting human rights.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from, where are you based, and how have you been since COVID/work from home/etc.?
I am half American and half Chilean, and I spent my formative teenage years living in Brazil. I’m now based in Brooklyn, where I worked from home throughout the pandemic.
How did you first get involved in sustainable business? How long have you been at BSR? What is your current role and what does that entail?
Born under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and living in both Chile and Brazil—two countries affected by significant socioeconomic inequality—I was drawn to human rights and tackling systemic injustice from an early age. I eventually did a Master’s in International Affairs and Human Rights and landed my first job at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. I’ve now been working on business and human rights for over a decade, initially advising companies on human rights country risk, then building the capacity of civil society around the world to advocate for business respect for human rights, and later advising governments on adopting robust public policy to safeguard human rights from business activities.
Eventually, I realized financial actors—institutional investors in particular—were largely absent from the human rights and business conversation. As the source of capital for business, their involvement is critical for making progress. That’s when I decided to move to the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and launch the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, whose investor membership now represents over US$5 trillion in assets under management. I later worked for the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights to develop a global report taking stock of investor action on human rights and a series of recommendations to help scale investor engagement in this area.
What are some interesting projects that you get to work on as part of your role at BSR? What do you enjoy about them?
All this experience brought me to BSR, where I’ve been leading our work at the intersection of finance, investment, and human rights for the past four months. In this role, I am excited about developing insights on the interlinkages between environment, social, and governance (ESG) investing and the business and human rights framework, as well as practical tools to help further bridge action on human rights and ESG. I am also excited about supporting private equity and venture capital firms in their human rights journey.
What issues are you passionate about and why? How does your work at BSR reflect that?
No surprise here—I’m passionate about human rights. Governments came together to agree upon a standard of achievement for all people, covering a wide range of civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. The standards are clear, and so is the roadmap for business to uphold these standards—namely, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Yet too often, we see business actors and data providers reinventing the wheel, defining the “S” of ESG in their own way, often missing the wide range of human rights impacts connected to business activities and the business processes needed to address these. My work at BSR enables me to work on this from various angles, including by directly advising financial actors and developing thought leadership.
2020 was undoubtedly a difficult year. What were the things that brought you joy amid lockdowns/quarantines? What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2021 and looking into 2022?
My dog brought me joy! Together we walked our way around parts of Brooklyn I’d never ventured into. I even discovered a new neighborhood that I moved into halfway through the pandemic. What I look forward to is traveling—anywhere! But especially to Chile to see my family.