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Engineering & construction co. Jacobs commits to enhancing human rights program following acquisition of CH2M


On 26 February 2018, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre wrote to Jacobs Engineering Group, inviting the company to share information on its human rights due diligence following its acquisition of CH2M on 18 December 2017. Jacobs' Chairman & CEO, Steve Demetriou, responded in a letter on 6 March 2018. The letter is summarised and link to in full below.

Background and invitation

CH2M has previously been linked to allegations of labour rights abuse in Qatar through its business partnerships following its appointment as the programme management consultant for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including:

  • Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘slaves’ (link)
  • CH2M Hill: Speak out for Qatar’s modern slaves (link)

Since these revelations, CH2M has taken concrete action to advance worker welfare in the construction sector, developing a Worker Welfare Policy and launching Building Responsibly, a new industry group to protect the rights and welfare of workers worldwide.

Given CH2M’s leadership on workers’ rights, and in light of Jacobs acquisition of the company, we wanted to give Jacobs an opportunity to provide a public statement on its approach to human rights within the engineering and construction sector. In particular, we asked the company to clarify:

  1. How and to what extent do you consider human rights in your business relationships and decision-making, including whether you have a human rights policy statement (or equivalent)?
  2. Do you require subcontractors and suppliers to submit to the same standards on human rights and if so, what measures do you have in place to ensure compliance within your supply chain/on the projects you manage?
  3. Your role on CH2M’s ongoing and recently awarded projects and how you plan to incorporate human rights
  4. How and to what extent you plan to absorb CH2M’s leading worker welfare policies, and to continue to build on its work with the Building Responsibly group?
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Company response
13 March 2018

Jacobs response re: human rights commitment following acquisition of CH2M

Author: Steven J. Demetriou, Jacobs Engineering Group

...While we have strong systems in place, we consider the acquisition of CH2M an opportunity to enhance our human rights program even further... Jacobs recognizes the significance of CH2M's leadership on human rights and has already begun working to harmonize the companies' programs, leveraging the strong groundwork established by CH2M. Organizationally, Jacobs has named CH2M's former human rights lead as Jacobs' Director of Social Impact, responsible for overseeing strategy and implementation of Jacobs' worker welfare program globally. This position reports into our Vice President for Ethics & Compliance, and our Chief Administrative Officer serves as Executive Sponsor.

We are currently in the process of updating Jacobs' Code of Conduct and Supplier Code of Conduct to provide an integrated policy framework for our combined company and reflect international best practices. Additionally, we will be introducing a new human rights policy for Jacobs based upon CH2M's industry-leading Worker Welfare Policy...

...Externally, Jacobs will continue to play a leadership role in the Building Responsibly business coalition, with our Director of Social impact currently serving as Chair of the Steering Committee. While there is much we can accomplish internally, we know that no single company can address these complex challenges alone, and thus believe that it is essential to collaborate with peer companies to establish and disseminate common standards, practices, and tools across the industry...We also understand the importance of considering a diversity of perspectives, and thus will continue to operate with a commitment to multi-stakeholder engagement across the business, government, civil society, and academic sectors. 

Download the full document here