Responding department: Public & Government Affairs
Stock exchange symbol: (XOM:US)
Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?
Answer: Yes. Our approach to human rights is consistent with the policy framework outlined in the 2008 report of John Ruggie, the United Nations Special Representative on Business and Human Rights.
Other relevant policies include Standards of Business Conduct; Statement on Labor and the Workplace and Statement on Security and Human Rights [link]
How are human rights governed in your company?
The ExxonMobil board of directors and board committees provide oversight of the corporation’s operations.
Relevant business lines and corporate support functions work together to develop our company’s positions and activities in the area of human rights. Our business presence can and should have a positive influence on the communities in which we operate. We believe that understanding and addressing the interests of societies and communities where we work, and the impacts of our work on them, is an important component of maintaining a successful and sustainable business. Responsibly managing our economic and social impacts on communities, maintaining a fundamental respect for their human rights and making valued social investments in their livelihoods help us maintain our license to operate.
How are human rights managed within your company?
Oil and gas-related projects have the potential to impact individuals, communities and the environment. Early identification, planning and engagement are essential to optimize opportunities for creating and enhancing positive socioeconomic effects and for successfully implementing appropriate avoidance and risk mitigation measures.
In 2012, we endorsed and implemented our Upstream Socioeconomic Management Standard for Projects. This Standard is designed to help ExxonMobil identify potential socioeconomic issues and risks early in the Upstream project life cycle and develop and implement appropriate avoidance and prevention, control, mitigation, compensation and monitoring measures.
The Standard outlines different expectations that are intended to be implemented based on the identification of relevant socioeconomic risks, including indigenous peoples, impact assessment and mitigation, human rights, transparency and corruption, cultural heritage and diversity, community relations, land use and resettlement, and economic development.
ExxonMobil provides a human rights awareness training program for personnel who work in high-risk areas, and we have done so for many years. The training includes information about the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, the requirements of ExxonMobil’s Statement and Framework on Security and Human Rights and expectations regarding the implementation of the Framework in a given country. In 2013, we provided security and human rights training to approximately 500 ExxonMobil employees and security personnel in Chad, Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. In 2014, we completed a pilot of a new, computer-based human rights training module aimed at further strengthening human rights awareness among employees and select business partners operating in sensitive environments. We plan to formally roll out the training module in 2015.
Our standard contract language requires adherence to all applicable laws and regulations related to safety, security, health and the environment. ExxonMobil’s procurement group includes clauses in requests for quotations that require our business partners to abide by the prohibition of child and forced labor and the payment of wages in accordance with local regulations. Over the past five years, the portion of our private security contracts containing specific requirements to uphold human rights has increased from 60 percent to approximately 99 percent.
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?
Consulting with communities during the early stages of a project allows us to identify opportunities and concerns and design effective risk management measures during the project planning phase. By endeavouring to avoid or mitigate as many concerns as possible at the onset, we are able to avert project disruptions, avoid delays, reduce costs and prevent the escalation of issues.
Our Best Practices in External Affairs (BPEA) governs our community awareness programs and government relations. The BPEA process helps us identify the specific needs, expectations and interests of host communities and align those needs with our community investment programs. Ensuring mutual understanding, trust and respect in our stakeholder relationships means that interested parties are represented as agreements are established. It also helps us establish constructive relationships with stakeholders who can provide valuable input into the decision-making process over the long term. Once a project starts, we provide local groups and individuals with a communication channel to voice and resolve concerns without fear of retribution.
In 2012, we endorsed and implemented our Upstream Socioeconomic Management Standard for Projects. This Standard is designed to help ExxonMobil identify potential socioeconomic issues and risks early in the Upstream project life cycle and develop and implement appropriate avoidance and prevention, control, mitigation, compensation and monitoring measures. The Standard outlines different expectations that are intended to be implemented based on the identification of relevant socioeconomic risks, including indigenous peoples, impact assessment and mitigation, human rights, transparency and corruption, cultural heritage and diversity, community relations, land use and resettlement, and economic development.
Priority human rights issues: What are some of the priority human rights issues for your company?
Human rights are fundamental to society. We strive to respect human rights everywhere we do business through training and compliance with guiding principles.
For an overview of our corporate practices that impact and demonstrate our commitment to human rights practices, please refer to ExxonMobil’s: Corporate Citizenship Report, Standards of Business Conduct; Statement on Labor and the Workplace and Statement on Security and Human Rights.
Actions on health
For an example of how our business supports health programs, please refer to: [link]
Actions on indigenous peoples
For an example of how our business works with indigenous peoples, please refer to: [link]
How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?
Externally, ExxonMobil includes information about its commitment to human rights and how the company addresses impacts in our Corporate Citizenship Report and on our website. For more information, please see: [link].
Internally, our commitment to human rights extends to our workforce and is supported by our Standards of Business Conduct and Statement on Labor and the Workplace, which articulates our support for the principles of the ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, namely the elimination of child labor, forced labor and workplace discrimination. For more information, please see:
We also communicate about human rights with ExxonMobil’s External Citizenship Advisory Panel (ECAP), as well as in our training program for relevant personnel.
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?
We strive to work collaboratively and transparently with local communities, including indigenous peoples, to foster ongoing support for our activities. We endeavor to avoid or minimize involuntary resettlement through consultations with local communities and project design and implementation.
When resettlement is unavoidable, like for our Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas Project, we seek to ensure restoration of the livelihoods of displaced persons, and we apply international best practices aligned with the IFC’s Performance Standards. All of our activities are authorized by law and are conducted in consultation with and subject to approval by appropriate government agencies. When physical and economic displacement occurs, we develop and implement Resettlement Action Plans that are informed by landowner consultation and surveying and mapping of housing structures, gardens and other assets. If it is determined a household does not want to move,
or wants to move but may have some reservations related to moving, ExxonMobil works to identify alternatives or provide additional assistance, as needed. There are several cases where we have rerouted infrastructure or chosen an alternative site for a facility to address resettlement-related concerns.
As part of this process, we work with the landowners to confirm what assets are to be compensated, agree to the rates and establish the final compensation amount. In Papua New Guinea, the process also included the presence of an independent advocacy professional who ensured the landowner understood his or her rights, what would be compensated and the rates of compensation. In developing countries, resettled landowners or users then identify a location to build their new home, and we provide assistance to re-establish their household at the new location. We also monitor and evaluate their livelihood restoration progress for up to two years. We have an assessment team identify resettled individuals or groups who may be more vulnerable to not being able to re- establish their livelihoods than others, such as single-parent households, handicapped individuals or the elderly. We provide special assistance to these vulnerable households.
Example: Papua New Guinea
The Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas Project spans a large geographic area of challenging terrain, including remote locations with either limited or no forms of telecommunication, electricity or infrastructure. In addition, there are approximately 800 different languages spoken in Papua New Guinea, along with a wide range of culturally acceptable engagement protocols that apply to tribal clans. We have found the use of nontraditional methods of stakeholder engagement to overcome geographic, language and cultural boundaries is advantageous in Papua New Guinea. This approach has helped us identify new opportunities and adjust field activities to better meet the needs of our stakeholders.
To engage effectively with landowners, community organizations, NGOs, multiple levels of government and other interested stakeholders, we use diverse methods of stakeholder engagement, including a combination of both formal group meetings and informal engagements as we encounter members of the community along roads and in villages near project sites. We learned about the value of using a variety of engagement methods — such as drama, a common form of learning in Papua New Guinea — to deliver important construction and safety messages to communities more effectively.
We also give community members the opportunity to provide input. In some cases, communities have raised concerns about project activities, so as part of our stakeholder engagement we have implemented a grievance mechanism that allows stakeholders to register their concerns with field officers, who then enter the details into a central information management system. The grievance
mechanism features a five-step process: publicizing the process; receipt and registration of grievances; grievance review and investigation; resolution and response; and monitoring and evaluation. Through the grievance mechanism and the project’s broader stakeholder engagement process, we have been able to identify trends and work with people to find solutions. Issues and grievances received during the construction phase related mainly to concerns about compensation for land use, the resettlement of some residents, access to land, impacts on food resources and perceived threats to the environment and cultural sites.
The project’s stakeholder engagement process, including its related grievance mechanism process, has also helped us learn about what we did well in communities and where people wanted us to extend community-based programs. It has also enabled stakeholders to contribute to continuous improvement.
Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?
Since 2002, ExxonMobil has actively participated in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
We participate in IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, which provides a forum for 38 oil and gas companies to work together to operationalize UNGPs for the industry. In this work, ExxonMobil has contributed to progressing industry knowledge on managing complex human rights issues through collaborative learning and peer exchange, together with the development of technical guidance publications, including:
• Community grievance mechanisms in the oil and gas industry. A manual for implementing operational-level grievance mechanisms and designing corporate frameworks (January 2015)
• Integrating human rights into environmental, social and health impact assessments (December 2013)
• Human rights due diligence process: a practical guide to implementation for oil and gas companies (November 2012)
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.
Please see above answers, which detail ExxonMobil’s approach to human rights as well as its activities and progress.
What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?
Oil and gas-related projects have the potential to impact individuals, communities and the environment. Early identification, planning and engagement are essential to optimize opportunities for creating and enhancing positive socioeconomic effects, and for successfully implementing appropriate avoidance and risk mitigation measures.
Understanding and addressing the interests of societies and communities that may affect, or be affected by, our business is critical to our success. As our work continues to extend to remote locations, we must constantly find new ways to engage these stakeholders, identify priority issues and develop solutions that are beneficial for communities and our business.