Note 8: Human rights

As an employer, manufacturer, business partner and member of many communities, we recognize the responsibility we have to respect human rights of people in our value chain and the influence we have to contribute to making improvements.

As part of our core principles of safety, integrity and sustainability, we are committed to respecting human rights as set out in the International Bill of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

We are also a member of UN Global Compact. Our explains what we expect from our employees.

Governance

The Executive Committee is responsible for our human rights program. It has delegated management of the program to a cross-function Human Rights Committee, while day-to-day work on the program is handled by the Integrity and Compliance function. Human rights-related rules and procedures are embedded in our policy framework and apply to all employees. Through our , we require our business partners to respect human rights in their operations for us.

Salient human rights issues

While we respect and treat all human rights equally, we have prioritized certain activities based on risk. These priorities were established following internal and external stakeholder engagement. They are:

  1. Health and safety in our value chain
    The health and safety of our people and those we work with, or offer our products to, is our first priority. We have a robust health and safety program, which is explained in Note 6. With our priority substance program, we screen thousands of raw materials. We have also initiated due diligence on the impact we have on the communities around our sites. That work will continue in 2020.
  2. Working conditions for our employees
    We are committed to providing good working conditions for our employees and those working at, or visiting, our sites. We have conducted due diligence and issued company-wide standards for working hours. These are being implemented throughout the company. In addition, we have conducted due diligence on the compensation we offer to our employees versus international living wage standards for the ten high risk countries. The initial results have shown us that while we comply with legal requirements, there are certain gaps between our compensation and international living wage standards that merit further due diligence. This due diligence work is ongoing.
  3. Discrimination and harassment
    We are committed to offering a working environment in which people feel treated with dignity and respect, and where we foster diversity and inclusion (see Note 7). We have clear rules in place and apply strict consequence management in case of violation of these rules. In 2019, we started the implementation of a global training program for all our employees on diversity and unconscious bias. In addition, we started the implementation of a global Trusted Person network, offering employees a person to go to if they have concerns about their work environment.
  4. Modern slavery in our supply chain
    We have zero tolerance for modern slavery, such as child labor or forced labor. We have conducted due diligence into our supply chains, initially focusing on mica, cobalt and tin (for more details, see Note 5). As a result of this due diligence, we have greater visibility of the risks and areas for improvement. We strengthened the (EcoVadis) self-assessment process for our suppliers in this area, have provided support to certain suppliers on how to improve and have taken steps to phase-out certain suppliers where necessary. We have also introduced a balanced scorecard to monitor the performance of key suppliers, of which human rights is a component.

For full details and progress information on our human rights framework, please visit: www.akzonobel.com/humanrights

SpeakUp! Grievance mechanism

SpeakUp! offers employees and people from outside the company a way of reporting any concerns they have relating to compliance with our Code of Conduct.

Reports are investigated objectively, confidentially and with a strict policy of non-retaliation. This helps us improve controls and processes and correct behavior where necessary.

For more details, visit our website.

Code of Conduct

Our Code of Conduct defines our core principles and how we work. It incorporates fundamental principles on issues such as business integrity, labor relations, human rights, health, safety, environment and security and community involvement.

Business Partner Code of Conduct

Explains what we stand for as a company, what we value and how we run our business. It brings our core principles of safety, integrity and sustainability to life and shows what they mean in practice.