The Current Situation
Today, many people around the world are living in poverty or are vulnerable to exploitation. We believe that the global economy — and global businesses like ours — needs to do much more to ensure that work empowers people. When people thrive, they are better able to meet their own needs as well as the needs of their families and communities. We believe we can, and should, play a role in increasing opportunity for people to thrive in the workplaces and communities we touch.
Mars is committed to respecting human rights. Human rights are one of the five sustainability areas we prioritize, alongside income, climate action, land management and water stewardship. In the 78 countries where we do business and across our value chain, we’re making progress in respecting human rights.
Significant, complex and systemic human rights issues persist in the global economy and affect people in a number of extended supply chains that we ultimately rely on as a business.1 These challenges are often linked with poverty, weak rule of law or the vulnerability of migrant workers. For example, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that more than 85 million children are working under hazardous conditions, most in the agriculture sector, and that more than 21 million people are victims of forced labor around the world.2Mars does not control and has very limited influence over operations in our extended supply chains. Nevertheless, we believe these practices are unacceptable and that we must renew our individual and collective efforts to take action, boldly test new approaches and form new collaborations to drive sustained progress.
Approach Our global Human Rights Policy describes our commitment to respecting rights across our value chain in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The Policy is also informed by the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Our Supplier Code of Conduct is grounded in international human rights guidance and best practice and identifies the human rights standards we expect our first-tier suppliers to uphold.
Our approach to human rights reaches our workplaces, first-tier supplier workplaces and the extended supply chain. To bring our commitments to life across our value chain, we use a unique ‘CARE Framework’ that we developed based on the UNGPs. It is a step-by-step tool to guide our human rights decisions and actions. We are also building strong human rights partnerships, as we recognize that breakthrough solutions to these issues will require concerted collaboration across private and public sectors. In consultation with human rights experts and through thorough review of publicly-available data we have identified forced labor and child labor as the human rights issues that may pose the most severe risk to people in our extended supply chains. Even as we work to advance respect for all rights, we place special emphasis on these salient issues and we prioritize actions that reach the most vulnerable people. We start with a focus on high-risk extended supply chains which include, for example, cocoa, palm oil and fish.
Long-term Ambition From factory workers in Chicago to farmers in Cote D’Ivoire, our goal is for everyone touched by our business to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Achieving our goal will require us to take concerted action – and, it will require sustained and coordinated action from government, civil society and the private sector to holistically address the root causes of these issues.
Our Approach in Action
Our global human rights strategy includes action in our own workplaces, first-tier supplier workplaces and the extended supply chain.
- Responsible Workplace focuses on ensuring respect for rights in our own workplaces. Through our Responsible Workplace program, independent auditors assess our human rights performance – if issues are identified, we work to address them.
- Our Next Generation Supplier Program is our enhanced approach to first-tier supplier sustainability. We continue to align all of our suppliers with our social, environmental and ethical expectations through our Supplier Code of Conduct. We assess the sustainability performance and existing social compliance audit results of prioritized suppliers using the EcoVadis online platform, leveraging recognized third –party tools while also unlocking increased visibility and broader insights. We support strategic suppliers, as they advance performance through a new, longer-term collaboration model focused on driving systemic change and engagement of workers. This model leverages the expertise of external advisors including our global strategic human rights partner, Verité.
- Human Rights and Sustainable Sourcing focuses on advancing respect for human rights in our extended supply chains. We seek to understand the nature and extent of human rights issues and to support our suppliers and business partners as they take steps to identify, prevent and address them.
We focus on collaboration across sectors to drive long-term change, with a particular focus on root causes. Our “CARE Framework” is a step-by-step approach that supports our teams around the world as they prepare to take action on human rights, highlighting four key action areas – Commit, Assess, Respond, Engage:
- Commit: Forming a cross-functional team across all relevant functions with clear accountabilities and governance processes. Identifying or creating relevant policies, standards and practices. Allocating appropriate resources to support successful activation of the agreed plan.
- Assess: Conducting human rights due diligence to identify and understand relevant human rights impacts including, where possible, input from impacted and vulnerable people and local communities.
- Respond: Seeking to prevent, address and remediate human rights impacts, either directly or in collaboration with industry, government and civil society. Actions may include monitoring and verification systems, awareness raising and training or grievance mechanisms, remediation of individual cases, and addressing the enabling environment and root causes.
- Engage: Engaging externally to learn from and collaborate with others and to share our own progress and challenges transparently. Seeking to mobilize or join key coalitions and to drive collective action across sectors to meet shared goals.
We use this framework to generate Human Rights Action Plans for priority raw material supply chains, for example, our Thai Fish Supply Chain Human Rights Action Plan.
We work closely with a number of key global partners and platforms to share learnings, good practice and challenges across a range of human rights issues. Collaboration, partnership and transparency is critical to understanding human right risks, taking appropriate actions and building the broad-based coalitions needed for sustained progress.
Verité: Verité is a leading labor and human rights nonprofit organization with deep expertise in addressing the root causes of issues such as forced labor and child labor in global supply chains. In 2017, Mars and Verité launched a long-term, global strategic partnership focused on action, insight and dialogue to improve the lives of vulnerable people in global supply chains relevant to Mars operations.
Consumer Goods Forum (CGF): Mars co-chairs the Social Sustainability Committee of the Consumer Goods Forum, where we led the development of the Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labor in 2016. The Principles address three employment practices that have been identified as the most common indications of forced labor. The Principles state that every worker should have freedom of movement, no worker should pay for a job, and no worker should be indebted or coerced to work. We’re committed to upholding these principles in our own operations and to promoting their adoption across our supply chains. For example, we are playing a leading role in CGF sub-groups advancing these principles in the fishing and palm oil industries in Southeast Asia. AIM-PROGRESS: Mars serves on the Leadership Team of
AIM-PROGRESS, the manufacturing and supplier forum promoting responsible sourcing practices and supplier capability building. Through AIM-Progress, we work with peer companies to support awareness raising and select trainings related to forced labor. In 2017, we supported a supplier capability session in Dubai, including a focus on forced labor.
Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB): Mars is a supporter of IHRB, a leading international think tank on human rights and business. We are a member of the Circle of Innovators, a select group of companies that meet annually to discuss trends in business and human rights and inform the work of the Institute. We are also a member of the IHRB’s Leadership Group on Responsible Recruitment, a coalition of leading companies and human rights organizations advancing the “Employer Pays” principle that no worker should pay for a job.
Alliance 8.7: The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the Secretariat for Alliance 8.7, which catalyzes action on United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 to eliminate forced labor and the worst forms of child labor. Mars is a founding member of the ILO’s Child Labor Platform and an early supporter of the new Business Network on Forced Labor, two key business platforms supporting the mission of Alliance 8.7.
United Nations Global Compact (UNGC): Mars joined UNGC, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, in 2015. As signatories, we have committed to doing business in accordance with UNGC’s 10 core principles, which include a focus on human rights, as well as reporting annually on our progress.
1 Mars’ extended supply chain includes suppliers which supply products and/or services directly to Mars, as well as businesses which supply goods and/or services to others.
2 The International Labor Organization defines forced labor as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.” Hazardous child labor, which includes the worst forms of child labor is defined by the ILO as “work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.”