Our responsibility to respect human rights
Human rights protect each and every person’s dignity. Respecting human rights in our business operations and business relationships is the foundation of our social responsibility. Our standards are aligned with internationally recognized principles and fulfill or exceed existing laws and regulations. As a founding member of the UN Global Compact, we support the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and work towards aligning our internal guidelines and processes accordingly.
As one result, our global Code of Conduct, updated in 2013, now also covers human rights as well as labor and social standards. By regulating the behavior of all BASF employees in working with business partners, officials, colleagues and society, our global Code of Conduct firmly embeds these standards into day-to-day business.
Our self-commitments comprise the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and both United Nations covenants on human rights, the ILO’s core labor standards and Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration), as well as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
The BASF Group’s Position on Human Rights from 2011 assembles these self-commitments as well as our operational standards and their implementation with regard to our employees, the communities around our sites, and our business partners into one document. Important aspects of human rights due diligence for BASF comprise safety, security and health, social and labor standards, as well as supply chain management. These aspects are – either explicitly or implicitly – integral part of different management systems.
Safety, Security and Health: We never compromise on the safety and security of our employees, contractors and neighbors as well as our facilities, transportation and products. We assess risks in all areas ranging from research and production to logistics, and how these could affect the surrounding community or the safety and security of our employees. BASF’s Responsible Care Management System comprises the global rules, standards and procedures for the various stations along our value chain. Concrete specifications for implementing these measures are laid out in binding directives. Regular audits help ensure that standards are met. Human rights aspects related to site security form a part of the global qualification requirements for our security personnel. This includes, for example, the concept of appropriate use of measures during security assignments. We have included the consideration of human rights as a mandatory element in all new contracts with contractors involved in site security.
Social & Labor Standards: We aim to harmonize our working conditions worldwide with our voluntary commitments as well as with local requirements such as industry standards. We conduct regional risk analyses for our businesses every year. We evaluate our adherence to our voluntary commitments using a three-pronged monitoring system implemented Group-wide, comprising external compliance hotlines, the annual survey of our Group companies to inspect the prevailing working conditions, and close dialog with our stakeholders, such as employee representatives and international organizations. If the survey evaluation indicates that our voluntary commitments are being insufficiently implemented, we investigate this information and introduce remedial measures. In countries where national laws, rules and customs deviate from international standards, we are challenged with finding appropriate solutions by engaging in dialog with the relevant stakeholders.
Supply chain management: Our Supplier Code of Conduct covers environmental protection as well as compliance with human rights, labor and social standards, and antidiscrimination and anticorruption policies. We participate in the “Together for Sustainability” (TfS) initiative of leading chemical companies for the global standardization of supplier evaluations and auditing. In implementing the TfS program, risk matrices help us identify suppliers with a high sustainability risk potential based on country and product risks. Using this risk analysis and other evaluations, we audit our raw material supplier sites on sustainability standards and initiate sustainability assessments through an external service provider. If we discover a need for improvement, we support our suppliers in the development of measures to fulfill our standards. We then check again according to a defined timeframe based on the sustainability risk measured. If we cannot find any improvement, we terminate the business relationship.
We systematically integrate human rights aspects into our corporate decision-making and take them into account in our investment decisions – for example, in the construction of new plants.
Our employees can consult their managers and numerous specialist departments and company compliance officers. We have also set up external hotlines worldwide which our employees and external persons can turn to anonymously. All reported incidents are investigated by our experts. We make sure that all concerns are processed within a determined time frame
We also set up Community Advisory Panels (CAPs), mostly at our larger production sites. A CAP consists of a group of individuals who live near or around a chemical facility and who represent the fabric of their community. The CAP meets regularly to discuss common issues of mutual interest. It is a forum for open and honest dialog between citizens and plant management. By encouraging a two-way flow of information, we hope to enhance communication with the communities in which we operate.
In 2012, we joined the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI), a unique network of businesses from diverse industries and geographies that aims to advance human rights in a business context around the world. GBI uses the UN Guiding Principles as the main reference point for its work. As member of GBI, we will continue our constructive contribution to the international discussion.