The respect of human rights is one of our top priorities. As an automotive manufacturer, we attach great importance to employee rights, fair working conditions, and rejecting all forms of discrimination, forced labor, and child labor. The responsibility for human rights issues belongs to the Board of Management division “Integrity and Legal Affairs” and is essentially based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In line with the requirement for a human rights policy formulated there, we have specified operational responsibilities and approaches in our Integrity Code, the Supplier Sustainability Standards, and our supplier agreements as a key requirement for all employees and business partners.
Our principles and guidelines
In our approach to the respect of human rights, we differentiate between our own production locations, for which we are currently developing a comprehensive “Human Rights Respect System” extend beyond the existing risk reviews, Sales & Marketing, where we conduct mainly individual reviews, our direct suppliers (Tier 1), and other business partners and downstream suppliers (indirect influence).
Due diligence reviews at the production sites. Our concrete human rights approach at our production facilities includes a risk assessment conducted in form of a due diligence process in keeping with the UN guiding principles, which facilitates the identification of country-specific risks. Among other tools, we use the instrument of the Human Rights Compliance Assessment (HRCA) of the Danish Institute for Human Rights for this purpose. We have almost achieved our goal of conducting a total of 19 country analyses by the end of 2015, and had examined 16 countries using the HRCA method by the end of 2014:
- 2012: Germany, Mexico, and Egypt.
- 2013: Japan, France, Hungary, South Africa, Brazil, India, Spain, and the U.S.
- 2014: Czech Republic, Turkey, Argentina, Canada, and Indonesia.
- In 2015, the countries Portugal, Romania, and the United Kingdom are still to follow.
Results of the assessments. The country analyses do not indicate significant need for action for the Daimler units in majority shareholdings, but have identified optimization potential in individual locations with regard to special financial benefits of the company (such as special payments during maternity leave or social benefits for socially disadvantaged groups), background checks for high-risk service providers or information gaps relating to the awareness of integrity-promoting instruments. We have closed the identified gaps. Consequently, our regulations extend beyond the locally applicable legal requirements. In addition, based on our analyses, in the reporting year Daimler did not have any cases of child or forced labor, violations against the right to collective bargaining or freedom of association. Indigenous peoples are not affected by the corporate activities at our production locations under review.
From HRCA to the “Daimler Human Rights Respect System.” Based on the experience gained from the compliance assessments, which will be completed by the end of 2015, we began to develop a concept for a systematic and continuous “Daimler Human Rights Respect System” during the reporting year that is to replace the Human Rights Compliance Assessments starting in 2016. The concept for this system comprises four key process steps:
- Risk identification: The following constituent parameters are decisive for the identification of potential human rights risks, among others: the general human rights situation in defined countries with operating Daimler units, the business model of these units, and the possibility of exercising influence.
- Program management: To enable systematic management of potential human rights risks for Daimler, a variety of different measures is already available or will still be developed as part of our program management.
- Monitoring: A monitoring system oriented primarily to high-risk units supports the regulatory process of Daimler’s human rights approach. The adequacy and effectiveness of the system can be reviewed and improved on a continuous basis.
- Reporting: The fourth process step of the “Daimler Human Rights Respect System” calls for extensive regular reporting aimed at providing information on critical issues and fulfillment of external reporting requirements.
Daimler Human Rights Respect System
Because the development of this concept could not draw upon existing systems, the concept was developed in a cross-functional process. In addition, feasibility and requirements analyses were carried out and key issues were discussed with external stakeholders at the “Daimler Sustainability Dialogue” 2014, whose recommendations we are gradually integrating.
Training programs. We also address human rights issues in our employee training programs, and with more intensive advanced training provided for selected target groups (e.g. internal and external security staff).
Investigating suspicious behavior: In the event of suspected human rights violations our whistleblower system BPO is available internally and externally to provide “access to remedial action” also in line with the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. An established complaints management process is also established with respect to our suppliers via the World Employment Committee.
Human rights and suppliers. Human rights are an integral part of the Supplier Sustainability Standards and the contract terms for direct Daimler suppliers. We rely on appropriate communication and training measures to enable addressing human rights in the highly complex supplier chain, on which we have only an indirect influence. We examine the observance of sustainability standards by our suppliers in a multi-step process on the basis of a risk analysis, that we carry out by country and merchandise category.