Respecting human rights

Our responsibility to respect human rights is at the forefront of our business. We continually review and assess the human rights risks of our business activities, and strive to prevent and address any negative impacts we may have on the rights of those whom we employ, do business with or interact with along our value chain. We also aim actively to promote human rights throughout our operations.

Through our Human Rights Due Diligence Programme, we deliver on our responsibility to respect human rights. From our experience rolling out this programme, we have been able to identify and manage 11 salient human right issues – those at risk of the most severe impacts through our activities and business relationships. We report on our progress managing those risks through the United Nations Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, as well as through the Global Reporting Initiative and UN Global Compact Communication on Progress.

Salient issues

We have identified 11 salient human rights issues that span our value chain. They reflect the scope of our business activities and the potential impacts we have on the people we employ, do business with or otherwise interact with throughout our entire value chain.

The issues identified, and the function within Nestlé with the lead responsibility for addressing them, are:

  Salient issue Lead governance area
1 Freedom of association and collective bargaining Human resources
2 Working time Human resources
3 Workers’ accommodation and access to basic services Human resources
4 Safety and health Safety, health and environment
5 Living wage Human resources
6 Child labour Procurement
7 Forced labour Procurement
8 Land acquisition Procurement
9 Access to water and sanitation Water
10 Access to grievance mechanisms Compliance
11 Data protection and privacy Legal

In addition, during the process of determining the most salient issues, discrimination was identified by external stakeholders as an issue that cuts across all issues and therefore should be integrated into the action plans we are developing for each one.

Based on these 11 salient issues, we have identified six groups of rights holders who are particularly at risk. Several rights holders can be at risk for each salient issue, which means, in total, there are 40 risks to rights holders that we think are important for our company because of the potential negative human rights impacts associated with them.

These groups, and the relevant salient issues, are:

Rights holders Relevant issues
Our own employees 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11
On-site contractors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10
Suppliers and, in particular, their employees 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10
Farmers and farm workers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11
Local communities 4, 8, 9, 10
Consumers 10, 11

The Nestlé Human Rights Due Diligence Programme

We operate a Human Rights Due Diligence Programme (HRDDP) throughout the company. Through the HRDDP, we implement our actions to assess, prevent and address potential human rights impacts, improve our performance on the ground, and gather data with which to measure our performance. The HRDDP has eight operational pillars:

  • Our values as a business are rooted in respect. We mainstream human rights into corporate policies and commitments to make them operational. The Nestlé Corporate Business Principles (pdf, 1.1Mb) shape how we do business and form the basis of our culture, values and Creating Shared Value strategy. Principle 4, entitled ‘Human rights in our business activities’, is the foundation of our overall approach to human rights.

    The Corporate Business Principles were signed by Nestlé’s Chairman and CEO and released in 2010; they have been distributed to all our employees, who must all comply with the principles, and e-learning on the principles will be available to all employees by 2017. We have also integrated human rights elements in 17 different corporate policies and commitments, helping us make these elements part of our employees’ day-to-day activities and responsibilities.

    A list of policies and commitment statements can be found below.

  • We engage with key stakeholders to get global and local insights into our human rights performance. Human rights have been systematically integrated as part of our annual stakeholder convenings, which gather representatives from government agencies, international organisations, trade unions, business associations, civil society organisations and academia. In addition, we engage with key local stakeholders as part of our in-country Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs). The combination of global and local expert inputs offers us a unique opportunity to incorporate new ideas and perspectives into our overall approach to human rights.

    At the industry level, we engage with different business organisations – such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and the UN Global Compact (UNGC) – to advance the business and human agenda in a pre-competitive manner, and invite more companies to join. We are also an active member of several multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the Fair Labour Association (FLA) and the ILO Child Labour Platform.

  • We develop the awareness and the skills of our employees in order to make their work-related decisions and actions aligned with human rights. Our training is delivered at two different levels: global and functional.

    At the global level, we have developed an online human rights training module for Nestlé employees. The objectives of this module are to:

    • Make all employees aware of the company’s position on human rights and inform them about our relevant policies and procedures;
    • Share good practice examples based on our experience in this area; and
    • Make them think – individually and collectively – about human rights issues, challenges and opportunities in their own work environment.

    At the functional level, we have developed specific training modules for targeted departments within the company. These aim to go one step further than the online training, as they focus on issues that are specific to the function, using real-life case studies or imagined scenarios. These face-to-face training sessions are delivered together with a human rights ‘champion’ from the department, usually a member of the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG).

  • We evaluate human rights-related risks in order to manage them proactively. Our exposure to human rights risks (reputation, liability, operations, etc.) is evaluated annually at corporate level by the (HRWG, with inputs from the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), Denmark’s national human rights institution.

    Each risk entry is rated across four different levels: Nestlé facilities, Tier 1 suppliers, upstream suppliers (including farmers) and local communities. Risk ratings are based on likelihood and impact. Information and data from issue and crisis management systems, media (including social media) monitoring mechanisms, and CARE and Responsible Sourcing Audits, as well as the results of the HRIAs, feed into the annual review process.

    The results of this exercise are integrated into our Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) system. Each risk identified as high comes with a specific action that is presented to the Executive Board as part of the annual ERM review process.

    This risk-to-the-business approach complements the concept of ‘salience’, which focuses on risks to rights holders. In this approach, for example, instead of trying to quantify the potential impact of child labour on our reputation, we try to assess the level of severity (in terms of scale, scope and remediability) that child labour represents for children deprived of access to education and having to carry out hazardous tasks in our direct and agricultural supply chains.

  • We assess human rights impacts in our business activities to address them effectively. HRIAs are invaluable sources of information about the positive and negative impacts that our business activities may have on people with whom we work, do business with and interact with along our entire value chain – i.e. the rights holders – in a specific country.

    HRIAs provide us with a unique opportunity to get feedback and input from Nestlé employees, including trade union representatives, suppliers, farmers, local communities and other stakeholders (i.e. international organisations, local NGOs and academics.) in high-risk countries. They enable us to learn a great deal about the challenges we face on the ground, and to implement action plans that address any gaps between international human rights standards and current practice within the countries where we operate. Our experiences of assessing human rights impacts in our business activities are detailed here (pdf, 909Kb).

  • We establish clear roles and responsibilities at different levels of the company. The Nestlé in Society Board is the highest level where an update on human rights is provided to Executive Board members on a regular basis. The Board is assisted in this task by the Human Rights Working Group (HWRG), which meets to:

    • Supervise and coordinate progress on the implementation of the Human Rights Due Diligence Programme (HRDDP) at the corporate and market levels against Nestlé’s commitments;
    • Provide strategic orientation on areas that need to be prioritised to embed human rights further into the mainstream of Nestlé’s structure and operations;
    • Contribute technical expertise to ongoing and future human rights initiatives and activities; and
    • Pre-empt and discuss specific Nestlé-related human rights issues and any action to be taken.

    The heads of the following departments and functions are members of the (HRWG: Human Resources (Co-Chair); Public Affairs (Co-Chair); Legal; Compliance; Security; Procurement; Safety, Health and Environment; and Risk Management.

    In addition to the (HRWG, other groups that are chaired by an Executive Board member have human rights as part of their scope of work, including:

    • Nestlé in Society Board;
    • Group Compliance Committee;
    • Issues Round Table; and
    • Operations Water Task Force.
  • We partner leading organisations to improve our human rights performance on the ground and deliver on our commitments. The DIHR has been our main partner in this area from the beginning of our journey in 2008. It plays a particularly important role as part of the HRIAs, but is also actively involved in the development and implementation of all the pillars of our HRDDP. The institute brings to our approach the external expertise and criticism that is needed for us to keep improving.

    The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has been a crucial element of our approach to child labour in the cocoa and hazelnut sectors. It is also actively contributing to the revision of our Supplier Code to align it with the FLA Code of Conduct.

    We also work closely with Verité to investigate and address human rights abuses in Thailand’s seafood industry.

  • Human rights indicators are integrated into our management systems to monitor our progress and report on it annually. Monitoring is key to verifying whether our human rights activities (e.g. policies, training and action plans.) have been effectively integrated across the different levels of the company and into our business activities. All our major monitoring mechanisms now include relevant indicators that help us make our human rights monitoring broader, more systematic and continual.

    The monitoring mechanisms we use for different areas of our operations and supply chain are summarised below:

      Nestlé facilities Tier 1 suppliers Upstream suppliers
    Policies The Nestlé Corporate Business Principles
    Human rights-related policies
    Nestlé Supplier Code Responsible Sourcing Guideline
    Programme CARE programme
    Nestlé Group Audit Programme
    Responsible Sourcing Audit Programme Responsible Sourcing Traceability Programme
    Audits/assessment CARE audits
    NGA audits
    Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) 4 Pillar Responsible Sourcing Guideline
    Grievance mechanisms Integrity Reporting System ‘Tell us’ ‘Tell us’
    Partners SGS
    Bureau Veritas
    Fair Labor Association

Additional policies and commitments

In addition to the policies listed on this page (see below), Nestlé has a series of policies that govern our work around respecting and promoting human rights. These include:

Name of policy or procedure Approval date Rights holders Human rights issue addressed
1 Nestlé Employee Relations Policy 2010 Nestlé employees Freedom of association and collective bargaining
2 The Nestlé Policy on Transparent Interaction with Authorities and Organisations 2010 Public officials; citizens Corruption and bribery
3 Flexible Work Environment at Nestlé 2010 Nestlé employees Working time (work–life balance)
4 Privacy Policy 2010 Nestlé employees
Other stakeholders (e.g. suppliers, service providers)
Data privacy
5 Nestlé Consumer Communications Principles 2011 Consumers (including children) Right to information
6 Nestlé Group Security: Objectives, Operational and Organizational Requirements 2011 Nestlé employees
Local communities
Security staff’s training on use of force
7 Policy on Conditions of Work and Employment 2011 Nestlé employees
On-site contractors
Working time
Competitive and fair wages
Health and safety
8 Nestlé Commitment on Rural Development 2012 Farmers
Farm workers
Local communities (rural)
Living wage
Working conditions
Health and safety
Health, water, education, gender, food
Land tenure
9 The Nestlé Human Resources Policy 2012 Nestlé employees Working conditions
Freedom of association and collective bargaining
10 The Nestlé Commitment on Child Labour in Agricultural Supply Chains 2013 Children (living in rural communities) Child labour
11 Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Guideline 2013 Farmers
Farm workers
communities (rural)
Child labour
Fair wages
Working time
Access to water and sanitation
Freedom of association and collective bargaining
Occupational health and safety
Land use rights
12 The Nestlé Supplier Code 2013 Suppliers’ and co-manufacturers’ workers Freedom of association and collective bargaining
Forced labour
Employment practices (including use of agencies)
Child labour
Working time (including rest days)
Wages and benefits
Health and safety
13 The Nestlé Commitment on Land & Land Rights in Agricultural Supply Chains 2014 Farmers
Farm workers
Local communities (rural)
Indigenous Peoples
Land tenure, including customary rights
Free, prior and informed consent
14 Nestlé Commitment on Water Stewardship 2014 Nestlé Employees
Local communities
Access to water and sanitation
15 Nestlé Marketing Communication to Children Policy 2015 Children Marketing to children
16 Nestlé Commitment on Labour Rights in Agricultural Supply Chains 2015 Suppliers’ workers
Farm workers
Freedom of association and collective bargaining
Forced and bonded labour
Child labour
Health and safety
Accommodation and basic needs
Working time
Living wage
17 Maternity Protection Policy 2015 Nestlé employees Right to social security, including social insurance

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