Salient human rights issues

Focus on salient human rights issues

As part of our commitment to respecting and promoting human rights, we aim to report on our efforts and challenges in this area. Together with external experts we have identified the most serious human rights risks which our operations or business relations could lead to. These are what we call our most salient human rights issues. Both the severity and likelihood of any potential violations and their impacts are evaluated and finally validated together with our businesses. Currently, our focus is on validating the most salient issues at a local operational level.

We have assessed environmental pollution, occupational health and safety (OHS), working conditions, protection of children, and forced labour to be the salient human rights issues within our sphere of influence.  In assessing human rights, the rights of the following vulnerable groups are specially taken into account: children, minorities, migrant workers and indigenous people.  Some issues are more easily identified and addressed than others. For example, today we already measure and report extensively on our occupational health and safety performance and our impacts to the environment. For other issues we are  developing our ability to report as our understanding evolves. 

We know our direct and indirect environmental impacts

All our operations have the potential to impact the environment both directly and indirectly and can, thus, have an impact on people in our sphere of influence. We recognise our impacts on climate, water, land and biodiversity and aim to minimise any adverse effects of our operations.

We have ambitious targets to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations and products throughout the entire value chain; from raw material sourcing, production, delivery and product use, to the recycling and reuse of products. Both the direct and indirect environmental loads and impacts of UPM’s our operations are measured and assessed continuously.

We are committed to transparency regarding the environmental impacts of our operations and to minimise these by setting ambitious targets to improve our performance and through the use of certified management systems in our operations.

Safe and healthy work environment is a top priority for us

Ensuring the right to a safe and healthy working environment is one of the top priorities of our social responsibility agenda. Our commitment to safety applies to all our employees, visitors, contractors and all people impacted by our operations.

Safety is integrated throughout; in our operations, organisational culture, and our mills’ management systems. The same safety requirements are applied to all employees, visitors and contractors working at our premises. We have a corporate wide safety management system in place complemented by safety standards and global safety reporting.

Strict safety requirements are applied to contractors working on our premises. They receive comprehensive safety induction before entering the site to perform their work. Contractor safety was also one of the focus areas identified in our human rights work in 2018 from findings of a due diligence assessment carried out across all our sites.

We want to ensure that the working conditions are also safe in our suppliers’ own premises. Occupational safety is a fixed agenda topic in almost every supplier audit we undertake, particularly in high risk countries.

Strong commitment to decent work and working conditions

We are committed to promoting decent work and working conditions as well as fair employment in our own operations and across our value chain. These are an integral part of our corporate responsibility and defined by our values and the Code of Conduct. Our global Human Resources Rules detail the principles we apply to working conditions, labor practices and decent work as described by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and enable fair employment. We comply with international, national and local laws and regulations, and respect international agreements concerning human and labour rights and freedom of association.

Since 2013 we have focused on evaluating our sourcing processes and have taken necessary steps to address working conditions related to our sourcing activities. At the same time, we have enhanced our supplier risk assessment and doubled the number of supplier audits in high-risk countries, some of them covering the entire supply chain. We also aim to develop and build our capabilities by participating in the UN Global Compact Action Platform on Decent work in global supply chains.

Respecting and supporting children’s rights in our value chain

We acknowledge our responsibility in respecting and supporting children’s rights in our value chain. This means not only preventing harm but also aiming to actively safeguard children’s best interests in our sphere of influence.

We respect children’s rights and have a zero tolerance to the use of child labor. Our Code of Conduct and the complementing policies are in place to ensure that our businesses and supply chain do not employ anyone under the legal working age. We continuously work with our suppliers to identify and remediate any potential risks of child labour. Should we identify a risk in any of our own operations or within our supply chain, a remediation plan will immediately be put in place in accordance with our Child labour Remediation statement and its principles.

Based on the human rights assessment conducted in 2017 we did not identify any potential risks of child labour or employment of young workers in our own operations. Despite this, we want to pay particular attention to providing decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers. Our aim is to develop our workplace practices so that they enable a balanced combination of work and family life.

We do not use or tolerate use of forced labor in any form

We do not use or tolerate the use of forced labor in any form in our own operations or in our supply chain. We have identified force labor a salient human rights risk in our supply chains. and recognise migrants a particularly vulnerable group of workers.   

Zero tolerance of forced labour is one the fundamental principles of our Supplier and Third-Party Code. We aim to mitigate the potential risks by focusing our audits on high risk-countries and continuously assessing and co-operating with our suppliers.