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How do you ensure human rights are respected throughout your value chain?

We respect and promote human rights in our operations and entire value chain, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles and the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact. We take action against any violations of human rights in our operations and value chain, with zero tolerance to child labor, forced labor and modern slavery. By the same token, we respect the right and freedom of association of our employees, including the organization and participation in Associations and Unions.

We are committed to respecting human rights in our operations and supply chain, taking action to protect rights holders, and to achieving long-term systemic change. We fully support the United Nations Framework and Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and will continue our efforts to provide best-practice examples in how we do business with respect for human rights. These include independent assessments of our supply chains and enforcing human rights standards with our suppliers; taking action to address root causes and protect workers and children; leveraging new tools to ensure transparency and traceability for key ingredients; and training our employees.

Assessing our supply chain, with independent oversight

We believe that transparency and independent oversight are critical to protecting human rights across our supply chain. We leverage a range of external, independent organizations to conduct assessments. For example, Verité, a global, independent, non-profit organization with a mission to ensure that people worldwide work under safe, fair, and legal conditions, has conducted an assessment of Nestlé’s palm oil labor rights management systems and those of our suppliers to ensure tools are in place to assess and address human rights risks.

In 2020, more than 73 000 agricultural supply chain workers benefited from interventions to address and improve labor rights.

We also completed six human rights impact assessments in our upstream supply chain. These assessments have given us deep insight into the areas where we need to focus our efforts and resources.

We have worked hard to bring about significant changes in the lives of workers in global agricultural supply chains through our investments in impactful programs and trusted local partnerships. Interventions include providing workers with grievance mechanisms to identify and address issues on-the-ground, providing training sessions on labor rights, and renovating of workers’ accommodations.

Enforcing human rights standards with our suppliers

Our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb) sets out non-negotiable requirements, including on human rights, that we require our suppliers to adhere to at all times when conducting business with us. . We are dedicated to securing good conditions for workers throughout our supply chain and to guaranteeing labor rights for all people who work with or for us, directly or indirectly.

We verify compliance with the standard by our direct suppliers through independent audits carried out by accredited firms. If non-compliance issues or gaps are found, a time-bound action plan is developed and implemented by the supplier.

If our suppliers fail to take corrective action on any violations or meet agreed deadlines, we will take measures that include removing them from our supply chain and ending contracts.

Taking action to protect children

Children deserve the chance to learn, to grow in a safe and healthy environment. We are committed to working with our suppliers and local communities to prevent and address child labor risks in our supply chain.

Tens of thousands of children have been positively impacted by our work to tackle child labor. Poverty, lack of access to education, and limited awareness about child safety are among the root causes of child labor. Our work seeks to take action on the ground and address these root causes, and our social impact has been assessed by independent third-parties. We've worked to build and refurbish 50 schools in the Ivory Coast and enhanced access to education, ultimately protecting 128 000 children against the risk of child labor.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has assessed this work and has confirmed the progress we’ve made on key areas such as transparency, raising awareness of child labor, increasing school attendance, and providing income-generating activities.

Traceability and transparency

We believe transparency and progress are mutually dependent. New technologies, like satellite monitoring, worker voice mechanisms and blockchain have been critical to understanding the issues we face in the supply chains and how to address them. We are also exploring multiple options and technologies for promoting human rights across our value chain. These approaches include further tech-enabled worker voice mechanisms, as well as digital surveys that provide new ways to reach workers beyond traditional audits.

We also disclose our list of suppliers alongside a variety of data of our priority raw materials that are part of our Responsible Sourcing program. This is the first disclosure of its kind in the industry and aims at increasing transparency in the agri-food sector. This covers 95 percent of our company’s annual sourcing of raw materials. We also provide individual breakdowns of raw ingredients and actions being taken in each supply chain.

Training our employees

By the end of 2020, we had trained almost all our employees on human rights, with 157 250 completing their training during the year. This is a significant achievement given the size and diversity of our operations as well as the geographic spread of our company. We also expanded our online training in response to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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