Human rights and social standards at Henkel

One foundation of our corporate culture is our commitment to respect the personal dignity and privacy rights of all employees and adhere to the principles of equality and fairness. As long ago as 1994, in our corporate mission and principles, we declared our commitment to incorporate social values in a responsible manner in our corporate policy and to "respect the social values and standards of the countries where we operate." We thus also assumed responsibility to protect and promote human rights within our sphere of influence. We further emphasized this commitment when we introduced our Code of Conduct in 2000 and when we joined the United Nations Global Compact in 2003. Our Social Standards, which we introduced in 2006, express in concrete terms what we stand for. They are derived from the following internationally accepted guidelines:

  • 10 principles of the UN Global Compact
  • 8 core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO)
  • ILO Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration)
  • OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and
  • Social Accountability Standard (SA 8000).

In 2010, we revised our Social Standards. Our objective was to make them more precise and thus more easily applicable for our employees as they should be used for daily guidance. Moreover, we wanted to ensure that they are up-to-date, in view of the further development in international standards.

We use these Standards as a framework for decision-making and constructive engagement within our sphere of influence, while respecting local legal requirements as well as the responsibility of governments to protect and promote human rights. Our Social Standards also apply to our suppliers, who are assessed through our five-step "Responsible Supply Chain Process." This covers results and risks in regard to human rights as well as key commercial and operating indicators.

Working conditions

We provide working conditions for our employees that reflect both our own and globally recognized standards.

The health and safety of our employees and business partners are top priorities for us. We also respect the right to rest and recuperation and offer our employees fair compensation and benefits in keeping with local standards.

Regarding child labor and forced labor, Henkel resolutely follows a clear policy of "zero tolerance." Nor do we tolerate any form of discrimination.

We respect the rights of employees and freedom of association and are committed to an open and constructive dialogue with our employees and their representatives. At locations where there are no representatives, or the employees' right to elect employee representatives is restricted by law, we ensure an appropriate social dialogue between employees and management.

Communication and implementation

Through presentations, training and e-Learning modules, we ensure that our social standards are firmly anchored throughout the company. We place special emphasis on training the managing directors and human resources officers of our companies in each country, so that they can act as "local ambassadors" in raising awareness of the importance of our social standards. The Social Standards are made available to all employees, including those at the production level, in the form of bulletins, posters or brochures.

Cooperation and knowledge transfer with our partners throughout the value chain are decisive for the successful implementation of social standards. This is why we engage in international initiatives such as the Global Compact of the United Nations, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as well as different workshops, expert groups, and governmental initiatives. The exchange allows us to learn from others and share our own experience with our partners.

Monitoring and audits

Compliance with the SHE Standards was audited at 54 sites, resulting in the initiation of 413 optimization measures. Maintenance of our Social Standards and our Diversity & Inclusion Policy was an integral part of the audits carried out at 15 sites in different parts of the world.

The results of the audits provide clear evidence that our social standards are firmly established throughout our organization. It is only in rare cases that we detect gaps at the audited sites, such as incomplete recording of work hours or overtime. In general, we have noted that the documentation and communication of our social standards has been significantly strengthened since these were included in our internal audits. Our experience shows that the core requirements of our Social Standards, such as those relating to the minimum working age and the establishment of employee representation, are now also regulated by local legislation in many regions.

The audit results play a key role in identifying risks and making Henkel's operations even better, more efficient and safer. Due to the strategic importance of our Social Standards, the audit results are part of the Internal Audit department's annual report to the Henkel Management Board. We react forcefully to violations of laws, codes and standards. Where necessary, we initiate appropriate disciplinary measures or terminate the business relationship.

Last updated: March 6, 2013