Nestlé has become the first major multi-national company to report publicly on its human rights impacts across seven countries, and what it is doing to address them.
Ahead of international Human Rights Day tomorrow, the company has published a white paper (pdf, 910Kb) using information from human rights impact assessments performed in collaboration with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) in Angola, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan.
The paper, launched at the Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva last week, focuses on actions Nestlé has taken to improve its human rights performance at both country operations and corporate level.
"This is a breakthrough in the field of human rights and business," said Allan Lerberg Jorgensen, Director for Human Rights and Business, Danish Institute for Human Rights.
This is a breakthrough in the field of human rights and business.Allan Lerberg Jorgensen, Director for Human Rights and Business, Danish Institute for Human Rights
"Human rights impact assessments are an emerging science. No one knows quite what they are or should be," he continued.
"By sharing the lessons we have learnt we hope to move practice forward. What we've done is by no means perfect and there will be things we may have missed.
"Whereas corporate human rights impact assessments are still a rare best practice, publicly sharing the results takes it one step further. Nestlé deserves a lot of credit for being perhaps the first multinational company to take this step," he added.
Nestlé and the Danish Institute for Human Rights
The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) works with companies to address negative as well as positive impacts their businesses may have on human rights.
Nestlé has been working with the DIHR since 2008, when it asked the organisation to conduct a gap analysis of its corporate policies and procedures relating to human rights.
In 2010 Nestlé signed a partnership agreement with the DIHR, to support the company in its commitment to respect human rights as stated in its Corporate Business Principles.
As part of this commitment, Nestlé has developed and implemented an eight pillar Human Rights Due Diligence Programme, of which human rights impact assessments are an important part.
Conducting human rights assessments involves engaging with employees, contractors, suppliers, farmers, local community members and external stakeholders to better understand the scope and magnitude of the human rights impacts resulting from a company's business activities.
Nestlé Human Rights White Paper - English (pdf, 910Kb)
Nestlé's Human Rights Due Diligence Programme
Danish Institute for Human Rights
2013 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights
United Nations Framework and Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights