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Responding department: Sustainability (also with input from Legal, Sourcing)

Stock exchange symbol: (GIS:US)

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

Yes.  We address human rights in our Supplier Code of Conduct: [link]  

We address human rights in our annual Global Responsibility Report (2014 Global Responsibility Report, p. 66) and are members of the UNGC: [link]

We are leaders in AIM-PROGRESS, a responsible sourcing forum focused on the packaged goods supply chain: [link]

Update, June 2015: In June 2015 General Mills published its Policy on Human Rights - a blog about the new policy is here

Update 2016:

In addition to our Policy on Human Rights released in May 2015 (link), we address human rights in our annual Global Responsibility Report (please refer to pages 8 and 58 in our 2016 report - link) and recently published a Slavery and Human Trafficking statement (link)

 

How are human rights governed in your company?

The General Mills leadership team has ultimate responsibility for the company’s social responsibility efforts. The team includes: Ken Powell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Kim Nelson, Senior Vice President of External Relations and President of the General Mills Foundation; Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer; and John Church, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain. Our Responsible Sourcing program is part of the Global Supply Chain and is overseen by the VP, Global Sustainability and Grain Operations. The Public Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors provides oversight. [link], p. 8 [link]

We believe that the protection of human rights through responsible sourcing is a critical part of our Nourishing Lives mission. As a global food company, General Mills is positioned not only to create economic value in the countries where we operate, but to create social and environmental value as well. To sustain our business for the long-term, we continue to improve our practices, our products and our supply chains as we work to fulfill our mission of Nourishing Lives.

How are human rights managed within your company?

Please reference the 2014 Global Responsibility Report, p. 66 [link]

Update 2016:

Please reference our Policy on Human Rights (link) and p. 58 of our 2016 Global Responsibility Report (link)

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?

Please reference our 2014 Global Responsibility Report, pp.48-66 and pp. 94 and 97. [link]

Update 2016:

Please reference our 2016 Global Responsibility Report, pp.37-50, p. 97 and pp. 100-101 (link)

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

The company selected the following from a check list:

  • Health (including environmental health, workplace health & safety)
  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination
  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Women
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Children (including child labour)

Actions on 'other' issues

Please see our 2014 Global Reponsibility Report: Health: pp.10-33 Workplace: pp. 68-87 Forced labor and human trafficking: p. 66 Women, pp.97 Children, pp.48-56 Racial and ethnic minorities, pp.74-76 [link]

See also Supplier Code of Conduct [link]

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

Please reference our 2014 Global Responsibility Report: [link]

See also blogs that provide examples of our stories, as told by General Mills employees: [link] [link] [link] [link]

And, a blog from the Human Rights Campaign [link]

Update 2016:

Please reference our 2016 Global Responsibility Report, p. 8 and 58 (link)

See also recent blogs on human rights (link) (link) (link)

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?

See 2014 Global Responsibility Report, p. 66 [link]

Update 2016:

See 2016 Global Responsibility Report, p. 58 (link)

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

General Mills is a signatory to the UNGC. We are a leader in AIM-PROGRESS. And, we are members of the following multi-stakeholder initiatives/roundtables: The World Cocoa Foundation, RSPO, Bonsucro.

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.

In 2013, we made a public-facing commitment to sustainably source 100% of our 10 priority ingredients by 2020. For more information on this commitment, see 2014 Global Responsibility Report, pp. 48-67. Because our sustainable sourcing strategy focuses on creating economic, environmental and social value, we are working with smallholder farmers in developing economies and larger scale-growers in developed economies to address challenges and pursue opportunities unique to each growing region. We are also advancing responsible sourcing practices across our supply chains to respect human rights and protect animal welfare. These actions were in response to our assessment of risks and opportunities in our supply chain. In 2014, we developed climate and water policies that publicly acknowledge the human rights impacts of these environmental challenges. [link] [link] Blogs about the policies: [link] [link]

Update 2016:

During 2015, we launched our Policy on Human Rights (link), which describes our broad approach and commitments in this area. Our supply chain is a primary focus. We also signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP), to reaffirm our commitment to promoting equal opportunity for women. This aligns with our programs and initiatives worldwide to advance diversity and inclusion within our workplace, our supply chain and our communities.

In 2013, we made a public-facing commitment to sustainably source 100% of our 10 priority ingredients by 2020. Because our sustainable sourcing strategy focuses on creating economic, environmental and social value, we are working with smallholder farmers in developing economies and larger scale-growers in developed economies to address challenges and pursue opportunities unique to each growing region. We are also advancing responsible sourcing practices across our supply chains to respect human rights and protect animal welfare. These actions were in response to our assessment of risks and opportunities in our supply chain. In 2014, we developed climate and water policies that publicly acknowledge the human rights impacts of these environmental challenges.

More information on all of these can be found in our 2016 Global Responsibility Report (link)

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

  • There are a large number human rights challenges that civil society is seeking corporate help to address. These challenges are amplified in the absense of appropriate government structure and enforcement.
  • Today, there is limited human rights expertise in supplier organizations. Building this muscle will be critical to progress on the issue. Thanks for considering our responses - please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions.