AkzoNobel’s policies include principles on how its employees and business partners should respect human rights. Our Code of Conduct states that we will not tolerate abuses of human rights, whether at the company or across our value chain, and that we will take any adverse impacts on these rights very seriously and act accordingly. Our contracts with suppliers require compliance with all applicable laws. Policies are developed by experts at the company and signed off at Executive Committee level. For example, we 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. Each year, management in the organization needs to certify compliance with our Code of Conduct and policies. If deficiencies are noted, they must set and execute actions to remedy them.
We operate a whistleblowing mechanism known as SpeakUp! with supporting processes and staff. This mechanism is available for both employees and third parties, including suppliers and their employees. People are encouraged to report any concerns of wrongdoing, including human rights violations such as modern slavery. All reports are investigated, and appropriate action is taken.
All our business partners are required to sign and comply with our Business Partner Code of Conduct before engaging in business with us, including a commitment to avoid impacting people’s human rights, and to apply principles of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The code explains, for example, that people should not be employed against their will, transported for exploitation, engaged in slavery or servitude, nor deprived of their rights. In addition, legal minimum age requirements – as outlined in the relevant ILO conventions and the laws of the countries of operation – should be adhered to and children under the age of 16 should not be employed. The code is available in 22 languages.
A signing requirement of our Business Partner Code of Conduct was introduced and currently 98% of the product related (PR) spend and 89% of the non-product related (NPR) spend are covered.
We have a Business Partner Compliance Framework (“the Framework”) throughout the organization. The Framework provides for a company-wide, risk-based screening of business partners before engaging with them, both on the supply side and sales side. The scope for screening, which is supported by a third-party screening system, includes adverse media which covers human rights and modern slavery related issues.