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H&M

Latest news & stories

Responding department: Sustainability Department (also with input from Communications Department, Human Resources)

Stock exchange symbol: (HMB:SS)

Update 2016:

H&M's Corporate Human Rights Benchmark disclosure

H&M's KnowTheChain disclosure

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

Yes.  A stand-alone Human Rights Policy available publicly

- Website: [link]  

Other relevant policies include:

1. Code of Conduct: [link]  

2. Discrimination and equality policy: [link]

3. Code of Ethics: [link]

4. Diversity Policy: [link]

5. Harassment Policy: [link]

6. Material Ethics Policy: [link]

7. Human Right to Water and Sanitation Position Paper: [link]

8. Sustainability Policy: [link]

9. Framework agreement with UNI Global Union: [link]

Note: Other relevant policies that also exist but not publicly available include Child Labour Policy, Privacy Policy- Employee, and Complaint Procedure Policy

How are human rights governed in your company?

The responsibility to respect and support human rights is integrated into all business functions within H&M. It is endorsed at CEO-level, but H&M actively works with integrating the aspect into all business functions. The lead responsibility lies with the Head of Sustainability, who reports directly to our CEO and our Board of Directors. In addition, in order to implement our Human Rights Policy and provide operational support, we have expertise as a support function at the Sustainability department, when complex situations arise and additional capacity is needed to interpret, define, implement, and remediate human rights related issues. For H&M it is important that the lead responsibility for human rights is anchored at the top level to be able to effectively and efficiently resonate through all the various levels and departments of the entire organization, making it an integrated business culture for all employees and business partners.

Board member oversight: The sustainability department is obliged to report to the members of our Board of Directors twice a year on global sustainability goals and implementation, as an explicit procedure initiated by the Board. Human rights constitute an integral part of H&M’s business model. H&M is committed to respecting fundamental human rights in our operations, our value chain, and in the communities where we operate. We seek to avoid complicity in human rights abuses and to use our influence to promote the fulfilment of human rights. In addition to the Human Rights Policy we also follow our Human Rights Management Strategy for how to integrate Human Rights in all our business functions in a systematic and continuous manner.

How are human rights managed within your company?

Identify/Assess:

  • Country human rights and environmental risk assessment
  • Supply chain monitoring program (Full Audit Program): All our suppliers’ factories are part of our Full Audit Program where we continously visit factories to ensure that they follow our minimum standard requirements which entails a clarification of our social and environmental responsibilities. It is necessary to fulfil our minimum requirements in order to be approved as a business partner to H&M. We conduct thousands of factory audits every year, mostly unannounced, and help our suppliers make important improvements. We are continously working to scrutinize our methods and systems to make sure we stay at the forefront to most efficiently and thoroughly be able to fulfil our social and environmental responsibilities. Hence, we are now creating an updated audit program as we want to promote genuine partnership with our business partners, called Sustainable Impact Partnership Program (SIPP). The aim of SIPP is to drive business partner sustainability performance further and enable better progress measuring to go beyond mere compliance involving an active approach to promote sustainability issues,- including human rights. In order to be a good partner to us, we need to be a good partner ourselves.We therefore provide training and support and reward good sustainability performance with better business. As a result, our 162 strategic partners make around 60% of our products.

Integrate/Implement:

  • Commitment: All concerned  H&M employees who are in regular contact with external business partners sign our Code of Ethics.
  • Business partners: All concerned business partners sign our “Code of Ethics” and “Code of Conduct” to ensure ethically acceptable methods of operating.
  • Internal trainings: We have a sustainability training that is provided to all employees, which includes a Human Rights aspect (e-learning). Targeted trainings with a Human Rights element are provided continously to relevant staff. For example, we have partnered with SHIFT to develop a training for relevant staff on how to implement the UN Guiding Principles in practice.
  • Capacity Building: Trainings and capacity building are provided for our business partners, and constitutes a key element to our Full Audit Program.
  • Learning case log: We have an online case log where we gather information about any situation that might arise in our value chain. The purpose is to systematize these learning outcomes to prevent re-currence of situations in the future.  
  • Fair Living Wage roadmap: Working with fair living wages is one of our key initiatives to drive improvements linked to the fulfilment of human rights (for more details see: [link])
  • Industrial relations: Another example is our work to promote well-functioning industrial relations and collective bargaining through our partnership agreement with ILO and collaboration with Sida, unions and suppliers (for more details see: [link] p.36-37)
  • Building & fire safety is another area which has been a major focus for many years. Our involvement in the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is today one of the most important initiatives (for more details see: [link] p.30)

Remediate:

  • Remediation of findings identified through our full audit program takes place continously, by the implementation of corrective action plans, such as for example by capacity building activities.
  • Grievance channel: In all our production markets we have a hotline directly to our local production offices.
  • Remedy Guide: In partnership with SHIFT a Human Rights Remedy Guide has been developed, based on the UN Guiding Principles. It specifies a system of how to identfy, manage and remediate human rights violations should this occur in our value chain or in our own operations. It provides support in the analysis for both actual and potential impacts.

Stakeholder Engagement:

  • We are part of various relevant iniatives and networks and aim to engage on all relevant levels: global, local, industry-wide, cross-industry constellations and and mulitstakeholder initatives such as BCI, BSR, UNGC, ETI, CEO Water Mandate, WWF, FLA, Fair Wage Network, SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition), SHIFT, ILO, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, etc. For more information see: [link]).
  • Advocacy efforts: It is important for H&M to keep continus dialogue with government representatives on key human rights issues such as wage levels which we have done for many years. Please see links to our most recent CEO visit to Cambodia and Bangladesh: [link] and [link] and to our joint letter to the Cambodian government ahead of the last minimum wage review [link]).

Communicate:

  • Company Annual Report containing a summary of our sustainability work
  • Annual Sustainability Report containing detailed information about our sustainability work
  • H&M Sustainability website
  • Continous dialogue with selected stakeholders, both globally and locally
  • Systematic communication to various stakeholders in case of incidences and news updates

Tracking of results:

  • All H&M Business functions are involved in defining their targets regarding sustainability issues annually, including human rights related issues, with support and follow-up from the Central Sustainability department.
  • We continously work to develop and systematize indicators to best measure impact and progress and guide the work of all business functions. Most indicators are reported publicly in our annual Sustainability Report.
  • Supplier compliance data: H&M has a comprehensive follow-up mechanism of our audits results, which includes measuring compliance progress on individual issues as well as in aggregated form through our compliance index, ICoC (Index Code of Conduct).

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?

H&M aims to engage stakeholders, both local and global, in a systematic and continuous manner. Stakeholder engagement is a key part in identifying what human rights impact H&M has as a company, and the engagement inform our practices going forward. We have appointed roles (called “Sustainability Relations Responsible”) in our local offices which actively engage with stakeholders as part of their professional work tasks. Specifically for workers, we engage actively with global and local trade unions. In addition, worker interviews have been an integrated part of our auditing program since 2002.

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 workplace health & safety, prevention of pollution)
  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination
  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Access to water
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices
  • Women
  • Children (including child labour)
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Migrant workers

Actions on 'other' issues

  • We have created a specific human rights policy that identifies salient human rights impacts such as labor conditions, women’s rights and the right to water.
  • All of the above indicated prioritized human rights for H&M are included in our due diligence processes, including in-country country risk assessments, supplier risk assessments, product evaluations and testing, etc.
  • BCI: we are members of Better Cotton Initiative to improve the production of conventional cotton, taking into account both social and environmental aspects. By 2020, our goal is to have 100% of our cotton from fully traceable sources such as BCI and organic allowing better ability to manage human rights impacts further back in the supply chain.
  • Labour conditions: we are implementing a fair living wage roadmap which includes advocacy towards government, evaluating internal procedures related to purchasing practices, improving employee skills and social dialogue on factory level and enabling improved wage structures at suppliers (for details, see: [link]).
  • Our ambition is to become a leader in our industry on water management, through the implementation of our water strategy. In line with this we have developed a position paper on water and sanitation, which will guide us to integrate the human rights elements into our water strategy moving ahead.     

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

  • Annual Sustainability Report: reporting in accordance with GRI framework (core)
  • H&M Sustainability website
  • Continous dialogue with selected stakeholders, both globally and locally
  • Systematic communication to various stakeholders in case of incidences and news updates
  • RAFI: We have been consulted in the development of the RAFI and will explore opportunities to integrate the RAFI approach into existing reporting during 2015.
  • When Human Rights concerns are raised by civil society or Governments we find it important to talk about the issues at hand through dialogue and joint actions where appropriate and we always have the ambition to have an open and transparent dialogue. Example 1: At the Olympic Games in Sochi we joined forces with Civil Right Defenders and produced a bracelet symbolizing inclusion and non-discrimination related to a person’s sexual orientation which was sold in our stores. Example 2: We have dialogues with various civil society organizations should an incident or a compliance violation occur in our supply chain to find the best solution for remediation. Depending on the situation we sometimes choose to publish our response on our webpage.

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?

  • Grievance channel: In all our production markets we have a hotline directly to our local production offices. Our global and local sustainability teams are also in continous dialaogue with various stakeholders and are open to dialogue should any concerns be raised related to our operations or supply chain.
  • Remedy Guide: In partnership with SHIFT a Human Rights Remedy Guide has been developed, based on the UN Guiding Principles. It specifies a system of how to identfy, manage and remediate human rights violations should this occur in our value chain. It provides support in the analysis for both actual and potential impacts.
  • Remediation of findings identified through our full audit program takes place continously, by the implementation of correction plans, such as for example by capacity building activities.
  • Even though we neither caused nor contributed (according to analysis through UNGP) to the terrible accident and did not have any business relationship with the factories operating in Rana Plaza, we chose to engage in forward-looking remedy by being the first brand signing up to the Accord created thereafter with other actors in the industry ensuring prevention of future similar accidents. The H&M Conscious Foundation also chose to contribute to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund managed by the ILO.
  • Learning case log: We have an online case log where we gather information about any situation that might arise in our value chain. The purpose is to systematize these learning outcomes to prevent re-currence of situations in the future.  

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

  • We are part of various relevant iniatives and networks and aim to engage on all relevant levels: global, local, industry-wide, cross-industry constellations and and mulitstakeholder initatives such as BCI, BSR, UNGC, ETI, CEO Water Mandate, WWF, FLA, Fair Wage Network, SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition), SHIFT, ILO, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, etc. For more information see: [link]).
  • The nature of our involvement varies, for example we have chaired BCI, we are on the steering committee of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, on the board of SAC and we are a collaborating partner to WWF and ILO. Wherever we participate we aim to actively drive the intiative and issues forward.

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.

  • Adoption of our Human Rights Policy based on the UNGP and development of a UNGP analysis Guide, resulting in a tool called the Remedy Guide (see more information under “remediation processes” above).
  • Development of and implementation of a holistic human rights management strategy, including internal human rights training and strengthening of country level HRDD.
  • Expanding our supplier assessment scope further back in our supply chain, e.g. including fabric/yarn mills and additional non-commercial goods

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

  • The interpretation of the UNGP varies a lot, hence, expectations on what we as a company are accountable for will also vary considerably. This requires improved UNGP analysis skills within all relevant actors.
  • Tracking the effectiveness on our responses to human rights impacts continues to be a challenge.
  • Although we absolutely welcome RAFI as an important initiative that can provide important progress within the human rights agenda, this will imply a demand for further resources in compiling the facts and information on our human rights reporting.
  • UNGP emphasizes the use of leverage as a company to influence the human rights agenda positively, but this continues to be a complex exercise in practice in many settings.
  • Adopting, implementing and developing new and existing processes continuously to support the implementation of our human rights commitments can prove challenging for any large company/organization.