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Responding department: Sustainability Strategy

Stock Exchange symbol: (BAS:GR  XETRA)

Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?

Yes, we have a stand-alone Human Rights Position as well as a global Code of Conduct covering human rights.

Our self-commitments comprise the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and both United Nations covenants on human rights, the ILO’s core labor standards and Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration), as well as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

The BASF Group’s Position on Human Rights from 2011 assembles these self-commitments as well as our operational standards and their implementation with regard to our employees, the communities around our sites, and our business partners into one document.

LINK: [link]

Our global Code of Conduct also covers human rights as well as labor and social standards. By regulating the behavior of all BASF employees in working with business partners, officials, colleagues and society, our global Code of Conduct firmly embeds these standards into day-to-day business.

LINK: [link]

Update 2016:

Yes, we have a stand-alone Human Rights Position and our global Code of Conduct expresses our formal commitment to respect human rights.

LINK: [link]

BASF Group’s Position on Human Rights from 2011 assembles our self-commitments as well as our operational standards and their implementation with regard to our employees, the communities around our sites, and our business partners into one document.

LINK: [link]

We support the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and are constantly working to enhance our internal guidelines and processes in keeping with these principles.

Therefore, we are currently working on a revision of our Human Rights Position Statement from 2011. The update process involves the consultation of relevant internal and external stakeholders.   

How are human rights managed within your company?

Important aspects of human rights due diligence for BASF comprise safety, security and health, social and labor standards, as well as supply chain management. These aspects are – either explicitly or implicitly – integral part of different management systems.  

Safety, Security and Health: We never compromise on the safety and security of our employees, contractors and neighbors as well as our facilities, transportation and products. We assess risks in all areas ranging from research and production to logistics, and how these could affect the surrounding community or the safety and security of our employees. BASF’s Responsible Care Management System comprises the global rules, standards and procedures for the various stations along our value chain. Concrete specifications for implementing these measures are laid out in binding directives. Regular audits help ensure that standards are met. Human rights aspects related to site security form a part of the global qualification requirements for our security personnel. This includes, for example, the concept of appropriate use of measures during security assignments. We have included the consideration of human rights as a mandatory element in all new contracts with contractors involved in site security.

Social & Labor Standards: We aim to harmonize our working conditions worldwide with our voluntary commitments as well as with local requirements such as industry standards. We conduct regional risk analyses for our businesses every year. We evaluate our adherence to our voluntary commitments using a three-pronged monitoring system implemented Group-wide, comprising external compliance hotlines, the annual survey of our Group companies to inspect the prevailing working conditions, and close dialog with our stakeholders, such as employee representatives and international organizations. If the survey evaluation indicates that our voluntary commitments are being insufficiently implemented, we investigate this information and introduce remedial measures. In countries where national laws, rules and customs deviate from international standards, we are challenged with finding appropriate solutions by engaging in dialog with the relevant stakeholders.

Supply chain management: Our Supplier Code of Conduct covers environmental protection as well as compliance with human rights, labor and social standards, and antidiscrimination and anticorruption policies. We participate in the “Together for Sustainability” (TfS) initiative of leading chemical companies for the global standardization of supplier evaluations and auditing. In implementing the TfS program, risk matrices help us identify suppliers with a high sustainability risk potential based on country and product risks. Using this risk analysis and other evaluations, we audit our raw material supplier sites on sustainability standards and initiate sustainability assessments through an external service provider. If we discover a need for improvement, we support our suppliers in the development of measures to fulfill our standards. We then check again according to a defined timeframe based on the sustainability risk measured. If we cannot find any improvement, we terminate the business relationship.

We systematically integrate human rights aspects into our corporate decision-making and take them into account in our investment decisions – for example, in the construction of new plants.

All employees are required within a prescribed timeframe to take part in basic compliance training, refresher courses and special tutorials dealing with, for example, antitrust law or trade control regulations. Training takes place in different formats, including face-to-face training, e-learning or workshops. In addition, we introduced a new e-learning program on compliance in 2014.

Update 2016:

Important aspects of human rights due diligence for BASF comprise safety, security and health, social and labor standards, as well as supply chain management. These aspects are – either explicitly or implicitly – integral parts of different management systems.  

Safety, Security and Health: We never compromise on the safety and security of our employees, contractors and neighbors as well as our facilities, transportation and products. We assess risks in all areas ranging from research and production to logistics, and how these could affect the surrounding community or the safety and security of our employees. BASF’s Responsible Care Management System comprises the global rules, standards and procedures for the various stations along our value chain. Concrete specifications for implementing these measures are laid out in binding directives. Regular audits help ensure that standards are met. Human rights aspects related to site security form a part of the global qualification requirements for our security personnel. This includes, for example, the concept of appropriate use of measures during security assignments. We have included the consideration of human rights as a mandatory element in all new contracts with contractors involved in site security.

Social & Labor Standards: We aim to harmonize our working conditions worldwide with our voluntary commitments as well as with local requirements such as industry standards. We conduct regional risk analyses for our businesses every year. We evaluate our adherence to our voluntary commitments using a three-pronged monitoring system implemented Group-wide, comprising external compliance hotlines, the annual survey of our Group companies to inspect the prevailing working conditions, and close dialogue with our stakeholders, such as employee representatives and international organizations. If the survey evaluation indicates that our voluntary commitments are being insufficiently implemented, we investigate this information and introduce remedial measures. In countries where national laws, rules and customs deviate from international standards, we are challenged with finding appropriate solutions by engaging in dialogue with the relevant stakeholders. In order to further improve inspection of compliance with international labor and social standards around the world, we began restructuring our management process in 2015. Step by step, the annual survey of our Group companies will be replaced with a process through which we can more efficiently monitor worldwide adherence to international labor standards based on a globally applicable BASF guideline. The management process is geared toward internal regulations on compliance and risk management, as well as requirements with respect to the U.N.’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Supply chain management: Our Supplier Code of Conduct covers environmental protection as well as compliance with human rights, labor and social standards, and antidiscrimination and anticorruption policies. We participate in the “Together for Sustainability” (TfS) initiative of leading chemical companies for the global standardization of supplier evaluations and auditing. In implementing the TfS program, risk matrices help us identify suppliers with a high sustainability risk potential based on country and product risks. Using this risk analysis and other evaluations, we audit our raw material supplier sites on sustainability standards and initiate sustainability assessments through an external service provider. If we discover a need for improvement, we support our suppliers in the development of measures to fulfill our standards. We then check again according to a defined timeframe based on the sustainability risk measured. If we cannot find any improvement, we terminate the business relationship.

We systematically integrate human rights aspects into our corporate decision-making and take them into account in our investment decisions – for example, in the construction of new plants.

All employees are required within a prescribed timeframe to take part in basic compliance training, refresher courses and special tutorials dealing with, for example, antitrust law or trade control regulations. Training takes place in different formats, including face-to-face training, e-learning or workshops. 

What is the company’s approach to the engagement of stakeholders (including workers, and local communities impacted by the company’s activities), on human rights issues?

Workers: The Global Employee Survey and its follow-up process have been established for the entire BASF Group ever since the first global survey in 2008. We conducted the second Global Employee Survey in 2012. The results were presented to the Board of Executive Directors and the Supervisory Board. Employees and leaders then discussed the results together, and developed and implemented measures for improvement in all regions. Example topics included supporting employees in their career development, work-life balance, and dealing with change. We conduct this survey on a regular basis. The next Global Employee Survey is planned for 2015.

Open dialog with employee representatives is an important component of our company’s actions. If restructuring leads to staff downsizing, we work with employee representatives to develop socially responsible implementation measures. This is done in accordance with the respective legal regulations and the agreements reached. For cross-border matters, the BASF Europa Betriebsrat (European Works Council) has been responsible for employees in Europe since 2008. Our German employee representatives and leaders met in the “Wittenberg Dialogs” once again in 2014 to discuss the Code of Responsible Conduct for Business in the Social Market Economy.

Communities: We also set up Community Advisory Panels (CAPs), mostly at our larger production sites. A CAP consists of a group of individuals who live near or around a chemical facility and who represent the fabric of their community. The CAP meets regularly to discuss common issues of mutual interest. It is a forum for open and honest dialog between citizens and plant management. By encouraging a two-way flow of information, we hope to enhance communication with the communities in which we operate.

Supply Chain: In the past two years, we have trained over 900 procurement employees worldwide on sustainability-oriented supplier management. This enables them to enter in a dialog with our suppliers to raise awareness and minimize possible risks along the supply chain.

Update 2016:

Workers: The Global Employee Survey and its follow-up process have been established for the entire BASF Group since the first global survey in 2008. We conducted this survey for the third time in 2015, with a survey design that was even more closely aligned with the corporate strategy. Overall, 74% of employees in around 80 countries took part in the survey. Good results were returned with regard to team collaboration, occupa­tional safety, and satisfaction with BASF as an employer. In some cases, employees saw room for improvement in areas such as supporting individual development, recognizing per­formance, and communicating change. The results of the survey were presented to BASF’s Board of Executive Directors and its Supervisory Board. Employees and leaders subsequently discussed the results together and are developing necessary measures for improvement. The next Global Employee Survey is planned for 2018.

Open dialogue with employee representatives is an important component of our company’s actions. If restructuring leads to staff downsizing, we work with employee representatives to develop socially responsible implementation measures. This is done in accordance with the respective legal regulations and the agreements reached. For cross-border matters, the BASF Europa Betriebsrat (European Works Council) has been responsible for employees in Europe since 2008. Our German employee representatives and leaders met in the “Wittenberg Dialogs” once again in 2014 to discuss the Code of Responsible Conduct for Business in the Social Market Economy.

We have a particular responsibility toward our production sites’ neighbors. Through our established community advisory panels, we aim to promote open exchange between citizens and our site management, and strengthen trust in our activities. In 2015, for example, we tackled a concrete recommendation made by the Stakeholder Advisory Council in 2014 and developed global recommendations for the community advisory panel system.

Priority human rights issues: What are some of the priority human rights issues for your company?

Update 2016:

Important aspects of human rights due diligence for BASF comprise safety, security and health, social and labor standards, as well as supply chain management. These aspects are – either explicitly or implicitly – integral part of different management systems.

  • Health (including environmental health, workplace health & safety)

Safety and health is a major concern for us. It is our long-standing practice to promote safe work by using specific qualification measures, e.g. we provided more than 77,000 participants around the world with training on occupational safety in 2015.

  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination

BASF has been promoting Diversity and Inclusion for many years. The first training sessions and initiatives started in North America in the early 1980s, and the first "Women in Business" staff network was formed there in 1989. We have a number of measures in place to establish Diversity and Inclusion worldwide. For example, D+I training programs have been developed and introduced for senior managers in every region. (Link: https://www.basf.com/en/company/sustainability/employees-and-society/employees/diversity.html )

  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains)

We do not tolerate any form of forced labor or modern slavery. Our Code of Conduct as well as our Supplier Code of Conduct covers the prohibition of forced labor.

  • Sexual harassment

Covered by our Code of Conduct; Compliance hotlines

  • Freedom of association and trade union rights

Covered by our Code of Conduct;

  • Access to water

Many of our products help to prevent pollution in areas where water is scarce. Furthermore, they help save water and conserve the resource during their manufacture and their use. The product range of BASF’s Water Solutions business includes products used in the key processes of municipal and industrial water treatment: Products to clarify the raw water used to produce drinking water, treating the waste water stream and reducing sludge volumes as well as for the treatment of industrial process water and the protection of cooling towers and boilers.

(Link: https://www.basf.com/en/company/sustainability/environment/water.html ; http://www.performancechemicals.basf.com/ev/internet/watersolutions/en/)

  • Freedom of expression and/or right to privacy/ digital rights

Covered by our Code of Conduct;

  • Relations with security forces

Site security-relevant human rights issues, such as the right to liberty and personal safety, have been globally binding since 2011 and added to the training of safety staff. Respect for human rights is a binding element in all new agreements with contractors working in site safety.

  • Conflict minerals

We procure a number of mineral raw materials, like precious metals, that we use to produce process and mobile emissions catalysts. In suspected cases, we investigate the origins of minerals – as defined in the Dodd Frank Act – to evaluate whether they come from conflict mines. We reserve the right to conduct an external audit and, if necessary, terminate our business rela­tionship.

  • Children (including child labour)

Covered by our Code of Conduct; Supplier Code of Conduct

How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?

Internal and external communications about our integrated company report ([link]) and via our corporate website at [link], in English as well as in German.

Update 2016:

Internal and external communications about our integrated company report ([link]) and via our corporate website at [link], in English as well as in German.

What provisions does your company have in place to ensure that grievances from workers and affected communities or individuals are heard, and can you provide examples of remedies provided?

Our employees can consult not only their managers but also numerous specialist departments and company compliance officers. We have also set up external hotlines worldwide which our employees can turn to anonymously. All reported incidents are investigated by our experts. We make sure that all concerns are processed within a determined time frame.

We also set up Community Advisory Panels (CAPs), mostly at our larger production sites. A CAP consists of a group of individuals who live near or around a chemical facility and who represent the fabric of their community. The CAP meets regularly to discuss common issues of mutual interest. It is a forum for open and honest dialog between citizens and plant management. By encouraging a two-way flow of information, we hope to enhance communication with the communities in which we operate.

Update 2016:

Our employees can consult not only their managers but also numerous specialist departments and company compliance officers. We have also set up external hotlines worldwide which our employees can turn to anonymously. All reported incidents are investigated by our experts. We make sure that all concerns are processed within a determined time frame.

We also set up Community Advisory Panels (CAPs), mostly at our larger production sites. A CAP consists of a group of individuals who live near or around a chemical facility and who represent the fabric of their community. The CAP meets regularly to discuss common issues of mutual interest. It is a forum for open and honest dialogue between citizens and plant management. By encouraging a two-way flow of information, we hope to enhance communication with the communities in which we operate.

Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?

We are a founding member of the United Nations Global Compact, and are committed to our responsibility in accordance with the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As a member of Transparency International Deutschland and the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) of the World Economic Forum, we assist in the implementation of these organizations’ objectives. As a member of the U.N. Global Compact LEAD, we report in accordance with the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership.

In 2012, we joined the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI), a unique network of businesses from diverse industries and geographies that aims to advance human rights in a business context around the world. GBI uses the UN Guiding Principles as the main reference point for its work. As member of GBI, we will continue our constructive contribution to the international discussion.

BASF is a founding member of the Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative of leading chemical companies for the global standardization of supplier evaluations and auditing. This initiative aims to develop and implement a global program for the responsible supply of goods and services and improve suppliers’ environmental and social standards.

Also we are members of business driven sustainability networks such as econsense, CSR Europe and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Update 2016:

We are a founding member of the United Nations Global Compact, and are committed to our responsibility in accordance with the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As a member of Transparency International Deutschland and the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) of the World Economic Forum, we assist in the implementation of these organizations’ objectives. As a member of the U.N. Global Compact LEAD, we report in accordance with the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership.

In 2012, we joined the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI), a unique network of businesses from diverse industries and geographies that aims to advance human rights in a business context around the world. GBI uses the UN Guiding Principles as the main reference point for its work. As member of GBI, we will continue our constructive contribution to the international discussion.

BASF is a founding member of the Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative of leading chemical companies for the global standardization of supplier evaluations and auditing. This initiative aims to develop and implement a global program for the responsible supply of goods and services and improve suppliers’ environmental and social standards.

We are also members of business driven sustainability networks such as econsense, CSR Europe and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Which are the key one, two or three elements of your approach to human rights that been developed or amended since June 2011? Please indicate if these actions were in response to the UN Guiding Principles.

As one result, our global Code of Conduct, updated in 2013, now also covers human rights as well as labor and social standards.

Update 2016:

For example, our global Code of Conduct also covers human rights as well as labor and social standards; our investment decision-making for property, plant and equipment and financial assets is supported by expert appraisals that also assess potential impacts on human rights based on the UN Guiding Principles; in line with the UN Guiding Principles we developed global recommendations for the minimum requirements of our Community Advisory Panels. We continuously work to further develop and strengthen our efforts to respect and promote human rights, e.g. in order to better inspect compliance with international labor and social standards around the world, we began restructuring our management process in 2015. Step by step, the annual survey of our Group companies will be replaced with a process through which we can more efficiently monitor worldwide adherence to international labor standards based on a globally applicable BASF guideline. The management process is geared toward internal regulations on compliance and risk management, as well as requirements with respect to the U.N.’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?

In countries where national laws, rules and customs deviate from international standards, we are challenged with finding appropriate solutions by engaging in dialog with the relevant stakeholders.

Update 2016:

In countries where national laws, rules and customs deviate from international standards, we are challenged with finding appropriate solutions by engaging in dialogue with the relevant stakeholders.