According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, 40.3 million people are in some form of modern slavery in 167 countries. These people experience situations of exploitation they cannot refuse or leave due to of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception. Because of poverty and pressing economic needs, many people become easy victims for these crimes. Particularly vulnerable groups include children, women and refugees.
Modern slavery should be eradicated from a moral, political, logical and economical point of view. That is why we have a zero tolerance for modern slavery of any kind and feel highly motivated to combat it. As an outcome of the human rights risk assessment which resulted in our salient issues, we recognize that there is an inherent risk of modern slavery in global supply chains, including our own, and particularly in the case of indirect suppliers.
Definitions of modern slavery often vary, but at AkzoNobel, we have defined modern slavery as child labor, debt bondage, forced labor, human trafficking, servitude, slavery and slavery-like practices.
Our policies include principles on how our employees should respect human rights. Our Code of Conduct states that we will not tolerate abuses of human rights and will take any infringements of these rights very seriously and act accordingly. We also have a specific policy on child labor and do not employ people under the age of 16, irrespective of whether local laws provide for a lower minimum age. Training on our Code of Conduct and grievance mechanism are provided globally in 24 languages. Each year, management throughout the organization needs to certify compliance with our Code of Conduct and policies.
We expect our business partners to provide decent working conditions to their employees. In our role as business partner, we screen and monitor our business partners through formal processes, of which modern slavery is an integral part. Read more about our processes here.
Supply chains of high-risk raw materials
We are aware that multiple risks come with complex and long supply chains, including the risk that modern slavery may occur in these supply chains. As an outcome of the human rights risk assessment which resulted in our salient issues, we recognize that there is an inherent risk of modern slavery in global supply chains, including our own, and particularly as we move into tier two and onwards (indirect) suppliers.
In 2017, we started due diligence into several raw material supply chains that are identified as high-risk in impacting human rights, particularly in terms of (salient issues) health and safety, working conditions and modern slavery. The current raw materials in scope – which we mostly procure indirectly – are barite, cobalt, copper, cotton linters, mica minerals, palm oil, talc and tin. These materials are prioritized and brought in scope with the help of information provided by NGOs. The objective of this due diligence is to increase the traceability of the materials in scope back to the smelter, refinery or mine of origin and assess whether our procured materials are sourced in a sustainable manner.
With regard to mica minerals, we mostly engage with Terre des Hommes about the situation in the mica mines in India. We carried out due diligence for their report Beauty and the Beast and meet regularly.
This work supports the following SDG’s :