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Responding department: Communications (with input from Group Corporate Sustainability; Procurement; HR)

Stock exchange symbol: (HSBC:US)

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

  • Reference within another corporate document: See p34, 2013 Annual Report and Accounts which can be found at [link] “HSBC expects suppliers to respect the human rights of their employees and to comply with all relevant legislation, regulations and directives in the countries and communities in which they operate.”
  • Link to Ethical and Environmental Code of Conduct for Suppliers of Goods and Services: [link]
  • HSBC applies the Equator Principles which are underpinned by the IFC’s Performance Standards on labour issues which include notes on child labour, and HSBC’s own sustainability risk policies.
  • Link to sustainability risk framework: [link]
  • Link to Diversity and Inclusion: [link] 

How are human rights governed in your company?

Human rights fall under the auspices of the Conduct and Values Committee ('CVC'), a sub-committee of the Board of Directors of HSBC Holdings plc made up of independent non-executive directors. Link to terms of reference of CVC: [link]

How are human rights managed within your company?

Human rights issues are ultimately the responsibility of the HSBC Holdings plc Board. Management of these issues falls to the head of the relevant global business or function. As referenced in the 2013 Sustainability Report, p21, HSBC Values, we require high standards of behavior from all our employees. 103,000 employees received values training in 2012 and a further 135,000 in 2013. Our Behavioural Guide outlines what is expected of employees in terms of adhering to HSBC values and business principles and in 2013 a number of employees left the Group for breaching our values. 6,700 employees completed online training in sustainability risk between 2011 and 2013.

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?

HSBC’s values are to be dependable to do the right thing, be open to different ideas and cultures; and to be connected with our customers, communities, regulators and each other. We value the information that NGOs and other interested parties can provide to help us improve our policies, and we welcome constructive engagement with NGOs and other stakeholders. As referenced in the 2013 Sustainability Report, p21, Whistleblowing, HSBC maintains a Compliance Disclosure Line (telephone and e-mail) “which is available to allow employees to make disclosures when the normal channels for airing grievances or concerns are unavailable or inappropriate. The Compliance Disclosure Line is

available to capture employee concerns on a number of matters, including breaches of law or regulation, allegations of bribery and corruption, failure to comply with Group policies, suspicions of money laundering, breaches of internal controls and fraud or deliberate error in the financial records of any Group company.”

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
  • Displacement and community relocation
  • Access to water
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Freedom of expression and/or right to privacy / digital rights
  • Relations with security forces
  • Conflict minerals
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices
  • Women
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Children (including child labour)
  • Indigenous peoples

Actions on 'other' issues

Diversity and Inclusion – including extensive LGBT support with e.g. #HSBCPride and CEO statements in support thereof; this is an extract from a speech to Out on The Street Hong Kong (December 2014): . “From a commercial perspective embracing diversity is simply good for business. You want the best people for the jobs you need to fill regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference: why limit access to talent because of prejudice? It makes no sense.” The 2013 Sustainability Report, pp21-24, provides further details on diversity and inclusion.

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

HSBC is currently reviewing the issue of Human Rights, including internal governance requirements, and any updates will be communicated in due course. We provide an annual Communication on Progress to a number of UN organisations including the UN Global Compact, UN Principles for Responsible Investment and UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance.

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 Q6. Additionally, see 2013 Sustainability Report (p21) on Whistleblowing which includes reference to ‘failure to comply with Group policies’ – and would therefore cover any failure to adhere to existing Human Rights commitments, policies and procedures.

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

  • UN Global Compact - signatory and report annually
  • UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative Principles for Sustainable Insurance – signatory and report annually
  • UN Principles for Responsible Investment – signatory and regular reporting
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights – signatory
  • Global Sullivan Principles – signatory
  • Equator Principles – member, and report annually on our application
  • Forest Stewardship Council – member RSPO – board member

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.

  • Review of certain Sustainability Risk Policies
  • Signing up to UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance
  • Joined Forest Stewardship Council
  • Human rights are under review (as above)