Latest news & stories

Responding department: Global Human Resources

Stock exchange symbol: (HEIA:NA)

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

Yes, [link]

For more information about our Supplier Code, Global Occupational Health & Safety Policy and Speak Up Policy, see: [link]

Since 2013, the Employees’ and Human Rights Policy has become an underlying policy of the Code of Business Conduct. More information about our Business Code of Conduct can be found on: [link]

How are human rights governed in your company?

  • As an international brewer, sustainable growth requires that we act according to our core values; they are at the heart of our HEINEKEN Code of Business Conduct and its underlying policies, including our Employees’ and Human Rights Policy.
  • Employees’ & Human Rights at HEINEKEN is governed by the Global Human Resources function, which is led by the Chief Human Resources Officer (member of the Executive Committee). The Executive Board is informed of any relevant developments through the Integrity Committee and the Audit Committee.

Update 2016:

  • Where is the lead responsibility for human rights located, and why? Chief HR Officer, as most of Human Rights relevant to our business environment are labour rights 
  • Does any board member or board committee have oversight of human rights issues? The Chief HR Officer is member of the HEINEKEN Executive Team 
  • What is the relevance of human rights considerations to the company’s business model and strategy? It is included in our Business Code of Conduct.

How are human rights managed within your company?

  • Employees’ & Human Rights are managed by the Global Human Resources function, and coordinated per region by the Regional HR Directors. This in close alignment with
  • Procurement (Supplier Code), Corporate Relations (Stakeholder Engagement) and Legal (Business Code of Conduct).
  •  Regional management in all five HEINEKEN regions support local management and help them with the development of action plans aimed at full implementation and embedding of the policy.
  • A special e-learning module forms part of the overall communication programme that helps to introduce this policy to our employees.
  • We aspire only to do business with suppliers who share our values. By signing the HEINEKEN Supplier Code, our suppliers agree to comply with key elements of integrity, environmental and human rights, which are based on a specific number of relevant International Labour Organisation standards. This topic is also part of a related 4-step governance procedure, which includes risk analysis, monitoring and audit. The intensity with which we monitor compliance against our Supplier Code depends on the risk profile of a supplier.
  •  In each Operating Company and at Head Office a Speak Up service is available through which employees can raise their concern in confidence and in their own language. It is also open to any external parties with whom we have had some type of business relationship (such as business partners, suppliers, shareholders, agents, distributors, representatives and customers) and who wish to raise a concern about misconduct within HEINEKEN.
  • For more information on the supply chain also see our contribution to a publication of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): titled Scaling up Action on Human Rights: Operationalizing the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights

Update 2016:

Our Employees’ and Human Rights policy is part of the Code of Business Conduct and are Operating Companies are expected to comply. We check compliance through the yearly Sustainability Survey, which includes a number GRI questions related to Human Rights.

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?

  • Crucial to our Sustainability journey, including human rights, are our stakeholders. They help us to stay focused and tell us when they feel we are moving off-track. Overall we communicate and engage with stakeholders in three ways: reputation research, expert meetings and ongoing stakeholder dialogue.
  • Engaging with stakeholders on human rights topics are both on a reactive and pro-active basis. Examples of topics and how we engaged with stakeholders can be found in our 2013 Sustainability Report
  • We also share our experiences internally and externally for feedback, on a regular basis. Internally for example through the HEINEKEN European Works Council and externally at the 2014 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva

Update 2016:

On a case by case basis, depending by the issue. 

Actions on 'other' issues

There are no specific human rights issues that is given ‘priority’. Any (potential) issue is important to us and dealt with on a case to case basis. For specific examples and steps taken see our 2013 Sustainability Report [link]

Update 2016:

When we developed our Employees’ and Human Rights policy we identified the following priorities and related standards:

  • Non-discrimination
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
  • Forced labour
  • Child labour
  • Working hours
  • Remuneration
  • Health and safety
  • Harassment
  • Training and personal development
  • Security
  • Non-complicity in human rights violations

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

  • We report about human rights topics through our Sustainability Report
  • Internally we communicate extensively about our Code of Business Conduct (including Employees’ and Human Rights), our Speak Up procedure and services. All information can be found on our website as well for external audiences.
  • Anyone inside and outside our company can access our Speak Up service

Update 2016:

Our Sustainability Report contains a section on Human Rights.

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?

Employees with concerns or who are affected have various options to speak up:

  • Contact a trusted representative;
  • Send an email to our Business Conduct team;
  • Call the Integrity Line managed by an external and independent party;
  • Go online to our Speak Up service and file a report.

Anyone outside the company can access the Speak Up service as well and file a report.

Appropriate corrective and preventative actions are taken depending on the nature and outcome of each case. These actions may take the form of process and control improvements, recollection of any financial loss and/or disciplinary measures.

Another example is the work we do for a specific group: beer promoters. The promotion and sale of beer in bars and restaurants by professional, female beer promoters is an accepted practice in some Asian countries. However, beer promoters are also subjected to potential health and safety risks, which include harassment, drinking alcohol with customers or even violence. As founding member of the Beer Selling Industry Cambodia (BSIC) (with the support of NGO Care Cambodia) we actively support the health, safety and working conditions of beer promoters via an industry code of conduct for both promoters and external parties such as their employees and bar owners. This includes:

  • A written employment contract
  • Fixed salary
  • Clear supervision structures and grievance procedures
  • Decent, branded uniforms
  • Transportation and driver policies
  • ‘Selling Beer Safely’ and life skills training
  • Zero tolerance approach and policies towards harassment
  • No alcohol during working hours and training in why and how to avoid this

Compliance and impact is being monitored on an annual basis by an independent party.

Update 2016:

Our Speak Up gives employees and external stakeholders to put forward grievances related to employees and human rights. All reports are handled by the HEINEKEN Speak Up Review Team and assigned to the appropriate case handler. The outcomes of the cases are not shared externally. [link] 

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

  • We are a member of the UN Global Compact;
  • We are a signatory of the UN CEO Water Mandate;
  • We are member of AIM-PROGRESS, a forum of consumer goods manufacturers and suppliers assembled to enable and promote responsible sourcing practices and sustainable production systems;
  • In Cambodia we are founding member of the Beer Selling Industry Cambodia (BSIC).

Update 2016:

UN Global Compact, The Consumer Goods Forum [link]  

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.

  • A global Employees’ & Human Rights Policy
  • Speak-up policy and procedure
  • Supplier Code and related 4-step governance procedure

Update 2016:

End of 2015 we started to develop the HEINEKEN Due Diligence process with the expert support of Shift. 

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

We are in the process of further developing our due diligence process, which we want to do in a phased way. Part of the challenge we – and many multinational organisations – are facing is the complexity of the value chain and the extent to which we can take responsibility.