Human rights are important in relation to our people, external reputation and supply chain sustainability. We refer to the UN Guiding Principles and support the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) core conventions for:
- Freedom from discrimination (convention 100 and C111)
- Freedom from forced labour (C29 and C105)
- Freedom of children from child labour (C138 and C182)
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (C87 and C98)
We seek to be informed by following the evolving expectations on business and commissioned a Human Rights Impact Assessment in 2016.
We provide an anti-slavery statement in relation to the UK Modern Slavery Act (2015).
Whilst it is the State’s duty to protect human rights, we have a responsibility to respect the human rights of our employees, the communities in which we operate and our business partners, globally.
We do this under the governance of various policies, systems, processes and our Code of Conduct; covering employment practices, occupational health and safety, environmental sustainability, supplier standards and community investment.
Whilst we operate in a number of countries where human rights are of particular concern our global governance is the same.
Following periods of new acquisition, before our employment practices and monitoring become embedded, we will use trained social auditors to appraise, on a risk-based approach.
Guided by the SA 8000 standard for Social Accountability, issues covered include: child labour; forced labour; health and safety; freedom of association; the right to collective bargaining; discrimination; disciplinary practices; working hours; remuneration and management systems.
We have an evolving business and can be involved with mergers, acquisitions, divestments, downsizing, new ventures and joint ventures. Such business contracts can have implications for human rights. These are considered when making decisions to move the business in such a way.
We consider human rights in market assessments for potential new investments or joint ventures, especially in countries where specific regulation is vague.
We stress the importance of doing business respectfully and fairly with suppliers and distributors globally. We apply our Code of Conduct, Group policies and standards in all the countries in which we operate. We respect local laws, regulations and cultures and seek similar commitments from our business partners.
We respect the need and, as appropriate, facilitate individuals in having access to remedies should human rights be potentially breached. Mechanisms include concern reporting, grievance management and public interest disclosure (whistleblowing).
Child labour is not acceptable. We work with our suppliers to improve supply chain standards and farmer livelihoods. We are active Board members of the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT), which is a unique partnership across industry. ECLT aims to improve access to education and ensure alternatives to childhood working.