Human rights due diligence

Our human rights due diligence in an ongoing process

Human rights due diligence is a fundamental element of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. To comply with these fundamentals, we have established a human rights due diligence programme which aims to ensure that we mitigate human rights related risks, track the effectiveness of our actions, and communicate our efforts internally and externally. The programme defines an ongoing process to assess our impacts on people and the potential risks. The process also comprises our supply chains’s corporate risk assessment process and compliance system.

Starting from supply chains

Our systematic work on human rights due diligence started in 2013. Our initial focus was on remediating potential human rights and labour related issues in our supply chain. Developing our own performance in safety was also high on our agenda.

Since 2013 we have evaluated our sourcing processes and ensured that respecting human rights are an integral part of our risk assessments as well as qualification and audit procedures for suppliers. Our Supplier and Third-Party Code sets the minimum requirements for our suppliers. We strongly believe our risk-based approach helps to prevent and remediate human rights abuses in our supply chain.

The number of audits based on our risk assessment has doubled and their geographical coverage is wider than earlier. We have also conducted audits together with qualified external auditors in China and India to benchmark our suppliers’  employment practices against the recommendations of authorities such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In 2018, we joined Together for Sustainability (TfS), a chemical industry initiative that promotes and improves sustainability practices within its supply chains.

Moving the focus back to own operations

Since 2017 our human rights work has been driven by a focus on our salient human rights issues. We want to put an ever-increasing emphasis on identifying and managing our salient issues and in this way ensure that respect for these issues is embedded throughout our own businesses and joint-ventures. Human rights topics are addressed and discussed on a senior management level on a quarterly basis.

In 2017, we conducted a human rights self-assessment at all of our 75 operational sites globally.  The self-assessment covered topics such as management systems, workforce demographics, working conditions, discrimination, local sourcing, contractor management, and community engagement. The work was conducted in collaboration with Shift, the leading centre of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles.

The due diligence assessment revealed no major or critical issues, but did identify common areas where practices can be improved. Contractor management, local sourcing and community engagement are areas that would benefit from a clear and more consistent approach. The findings of the self-assessments form the basis of our due diligence programme and ongoing improvement efforts including business specific definition of human rights assessment and mitigation plans. They also highlight any areas that require particular attention in our internal audits at UPM sites.

Raising concerns is encouraged

In line with our compliance system and human rights due diligence programme, we have a mechanism in place to report any cases relating to human rights through the UPM Report Misconduct channel. In 2018, in order to strengthen the speak-up culture and harmonise our procedures, principles, roles and responsibilities with regard to the reporting and investigation of misconduct and other concerns, we introduced an up-dated version of misconduct protocol.  During 2018 there were 20 cases reported related to human rights and people via our misconduct channel. In cases where violations are verified, preventive measures are determined, and remediation is actioned. These are specified case-by-case.