Global value chains depend on people, often from poor and marginalised backgrounds, and people depend on global value chains for their income, livelihoods, and well-being. However, the rights of workers, communities and other people affected by business activity are at risk, with alarming rates of forced labour, child labour and extreme poverty, amongst other challenges.
The abuse of workers’ rights was severe in 2022, with only 3 out of 148 countries showing improvements in this area1. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend, leading to a rise in the number of people living in extreme poverty and an increase in the number of working poor2. Additionally, limited resources like land, water and energy are under increasing pressure, impacting the conditions for how we live.
Social sustainability means putting people first and implementing business practices that contribute to the human dimension of sustainable development3. This has always been at the heart of our promise to protect what’s good: food, people and planet.
Our approach to social sustainability focuses on the people whose rights are impacted across our value chain. We’ve identified areas where we aim to have a lasting impact.
Protecting people in our workforce is underpinned by a companywide culture based on safety, health and well-being.
We continue to implement occupational health and safety (OHS) initiatives to ensure fair and safe working conditions everywhere for our employees and champion mental well-being through a companywide programme.
Through our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, we strive for a truly diverse workforce where every employee is respected, included, engaged, offered fair opportunities, and treated equally, irrespective of their backgrounds.
It is a priority for us to address severe risks to people in our supply chain, including workers in the extraction of raw materials as well as communities affected by them, and workers in our suppliers' production and at our logistics providers.
We collaborate with stakeholders to develop action plans to address the most severe risks to people and participate in initiatives such as AIM Progress Shift's Business Learning Program and the Nordic Network on Business and Human Rights to raise awareness and understanding of human rights issues.
We’re mapping our collection and recycling value chains, identifying potential impacts on people, and developing country-specific action plans based on engagement with informal waste sector workers.
By respecting collection & recycling workers’ rights, we aim to help increase incomes and livelihoods, provide protection in risky environments4 and give these workers a voice in the future of collection and recycling systems.
1Poverty, median incomes and inequality (2021). Source: https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/936001635880885713/pdf/Poverty-Median-Incomes-and-Inequality-in-2021-A-Diverging-Recovery.pdf
2UN Global Compact: Labour and Decent Work. Source: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc/our-work/social/labour
3Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Source: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/EN/legal-content/glossary/sustainable-development.html
4Risky environments refer to: "At landfills, waste pickers work in hazardous conditions, are exposed to potentially hazardous materials and toxic fumes, lack personal protective equipment (PPE), and are at risk of severe injury from heavy machinery and vehicles." Source: https://faircircularity.org/fair-circularity-principles/