Human rights

human rights

Human rights

What is the issue?

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world. They are important because they give people the freedom to choose how they live, guarantee basic needs such as food and education, and protect people from abuse and exploitation.

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Why is it important?

Protecting human rights is vital for creating shared value in our supply chain and operations. Through our Corporate Business Principles, we are committed to fully support the United Nations Global Compact’s guiding principles on human rights and labour. We aim to provide an industry example of good human rights and labour practices throughout our business.

Since 2011, Nestlé has embraced the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (pdf, 1Mb), seeking to understand and assess how they are impacting the lives and rights of their stakeholders, more deeply. [This] has led to new partnerships with civil society groups and enabled them to work in collaboration with different actors to address identified problems.
Désirée Abrahams, Head of Insights and Capacity, UN Global Compact Network UK


  • Not yet achieved
  • By 2015 – (globally) All FTSE4Good Countries of Concern where we operate are covered and our employees trained to reduce human rights risks in our operations.
  • In 2015, we trained a further 8,130 employees on human rights across nine FTSE4Good countries of concern. It means 72,778 employees have been trained across 66 countries since 2011.

    For reasons beyond our control, planned assessments could not be carried out in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. As a result, our original 2015 objective could not be met in full and a new 2018 objective has been introduced to provide an extension, allowing these and other remaining assessments to be carried out. For more information click here.


Securing the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every individual.


Managing risk to rights holders and the business across our operations and supply chains.

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What are we doing about it?

In 2010, we entered into a partnership with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) to help us understand and address our human rights impacts. Through this partnership we developed our Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) Programme, which gives us a framework for carrying out human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) across our operations and supply chain.

Each HRIA follows a four-step process. After scoping the country areas and facilities to prioritise, we carry out site visits and conduct interviews with local managers. Based on the findings of these assessments, the DIHR prepares a report identifying any issues and recommending any necessary remedial action. Finally we agree an action plan, including a timeline for carrying it out.

Since 2010, we have carried out 11 HRIAs covering different country operations in various regions of the world. We report regularly on our assessments and their findings, and our progress in managing our impacts.

In addition, Nestlé is one of the early adopters of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. As a result, in 2015 we identified 11 salient human rights issues (the material issues we most need to address) across our global business. These are: freedom of association and collective bargaining; working time; workers’ accommodation and access to basic services; safety and health; living wage; data protection and privacy; child labour; forced labour; land acquisition; access to water and sanitation; and access to grievance mechanisms.

By the end of 2016, we aim to have developed action plans and targets for all 11 salient human rights issues.

Our ambition is to be an acknowledged leader in business and human rights. As we roll out our HRDD Programme further we strive to continuously improve it, in consultation with human rights organisations and other stakeholders.

There are about 80,000 multinationals in the world, but according to a survey, less than 400 of them have a human rights policy. A realistic guess is that less than 50 of these have done a human rights impact assessment. Nestlé deserves a lot of credit for being perhaps the first multinational company to take this step.
Allan Lerberg Jorgensen, Director for Human Rights and Business, Danish Institute for Human Rights

Talking the Human Rights Walk

Engaging stakeholders is a key part of our approach to human rights, and one of the pillars of our HRDD Programme. In 2013 we published a white paper with the DIHR entitled Talking the Human Rights Walk (pdf, 909Kb), which reported in detail on our efforts to manage our human rights impacts. Based on this report, in April 2014, we met with a range of stakeholders in London to discuss our progress in this area.

Facilitated by the DIHR, the meeting gathered 20 human rights and rural development experts from NGOs, intergovernmental organisations, think tanks, consultancies and trade associations. The discussion raised valuable points that we will use to improve our HRDD Programme and HRIAs.

Forced labour in the Thai seafood industry

Forced labour has no place in any part of our business. Working alongside other stakeholder partners, we are committed to identifying and eliminating this human rights abuse throughout our supply chain. Our mandatory Nestlé Supplier Code (pdf, 2Mb) and Responsible Sourcing Guideline (RSG) (pdf, 2Mb) require all of our suppliers to respect human rights and to comply with all applicable labour laws.

In December 2014, following news reports of slave labour in the Thai seafood industry, we asked the NGO Verité to carry out an assessment of labour conditions in our shrimp supply chain in Thailand. The three-month investigation, which focused on six production sites and covered fishing vessels, ports and mills, revealed a range of human rights abuses including forced labour and human trafficking among migrant workers.

Based on the findings of the report, we developed an action plan to prevent unacceptable labour practices and protect workers. Key measures in our plan – which are now being implemented with our suppliers – include coordinating the establishment of a response team to help protect Thai fishing labourers at risk, launching a grievance mechanism to allow workers to anonymously report abuses, and putting in place a verification programme for fishing vessels that assesses working and living conditions. We will also start a training programme for boat owners and captains on minimum standards, and improve traceability to enable greater oversight of where our supplies are coming from. We will provide public updates on progress.

In addition, Nestlé is participating in a multi-stakeholder International Labour Organisation (ILO) Working Group, consisting of representatives from the Government of Thailand, local seafood suppliers, and international buyers. This group has developed training guidelines for factories, primary processors and fish farms to help end unfair practices, and tools to support the inspection of fishing vessels to identify where forced and child labour is taking place.

We have made Verité’s key findings publicly available to help wider efforts to stop such abuses taking place.

Eradicating modern slavery

In October 2015, a landmark law to help eradicate modern slavery came into effect in the UK. Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies over a certain size doing business in the UK must publish an annual Transparency Statement on their efforts to eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and own operations.

As part of our commitment to protecting human rights, we are opposed to any form of forced labour. In the UK, we will publish our first annual Transparency Statement in 2016, as part of the Modern Slavery Act’s transparency in supply chains provision.

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What’s next?

In 2016, our global business will develop action plans and targets for each of the 11 human rights risk identified as salient. For now, no specific geographical areas have been identified as priorities for each issue.

This work will be done as part of the development of action plans to assess where resources should go first, based on the levels of risks to rights holders.