Latest news & stories | View response in: Português

Responding department: Sustainability

Stock exchange symbol: (ITUB3:BZ)

Note: English-language translation of Itau Unibanco's Portuguese original.

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

Yes, Itaú Unibanco has made a public commitment to respect human rights. This commitment is formalised in document available at [link], the aim of which is to reinforce Itaú Unibanco Holding S.A.’s commitment to respecting human rights in its relationships with employees, clients, suppliers and the communities in which it operates. This commitment is guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in accordance with the "Protect, Respect and Remedy" framework set out in the Final Report by John Ruggie, approved by the UN Human Rights Council on 16 June 2011. Respect for human rights permeates all of Itaú Unibanco’s business policies and is associated with best practices relating to corporate governance, sustainable development and social responsibility. The institution’s concern over human rights is reflected in a number of documents, such as its Code of Ethics (available at [link]), Diversity Appreciation Policy, Sustainability Policy (available at [link]), Anticorruption Policy, Socio-Environmental Risk Policy (available at [link]), Personnel Policies, Corporate Governance Policy, Policy on the Contracting of Materials, Goods and Services (available at [link]), Corporate Safety Policy, Information Security Policy and Policy on Voluntary Commitments.

How are human rights governed in your company?

Bearing mind that Itaú is committed to respecting human rights in its relationships with employees, clients, suppliers and with the communities in which it operates, the management of the topic is shared by the Departments of Ethics, Sustainability, Compliance, Diversity and Socio-Environmental Risk. The topic is dealt with in a cross-disciplinary manner by several committees that the aforementioned departments organise or form part of, among which are the Executive Committee for Sustainability and the Socio-Environmental Risk Committee. The consideration of human rights forms part of the institution’s strategy, as the concept of sustainable performance is an integral part of the bank's vision and business decisions.  A practice that exemplifies this is the credit evaluation procedure for granting loans, which, besides conventional aspects such as finances, management and governance, takes into account our potential clients’ practices relating to human rights, the environment and biodiversity.

How are human rights managed within your company?

The process for managing human rights issues began by identifying critical target audiences and the real and potential impacts on each one. The points identified were included in the corporate policies, which are regularly monitored and revised. Furthermore, Itaú has internal and external channels for reporting situations that are not compliant with the corporate policy and Code of Ethics guidelines, legislation, etc. To prevent negative impacts on employees, Itaú offers training (seminars, courses and other communication activities, such as lectures and videos) to show the importance of human rights issues, such as the inclusion of people with physical disabilities, the promotion of women to leadership positions, and combating sexual, religious and racial discrimination. In addition, it guides employees to seek advice from the Ethics and Ombudsman Department to clarify doubts and resolve interpersonal conflicts. Regarding business partners, the importance of human rights is made clear from the start of the relationship. The bank does not grant loans to firms involved in activities directly or indirectly connected with prostitution or child labour, or those on the  Black List of the Ministry of Labour and Employment. These activities form the list of forbidden activities for Itaú Unibanco. Checking against the Forbidden List is complemented by the Know Your Customer (KYC) credit evaluation procedure, based on the procedures described in the sectoral policy on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism.

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?

The engagement of stakeholders on human rights issues takes place via participation in external forums to develop issue-related knowledge and to share and disseminate practices. Itaú is present in networks such as UNEP FI, the Global Compact and the National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labour Institute, among others, and operates in conjunction with public organisations in all spheres of government to support issue-related Bills and to develop partnerships that promote societal benefits.

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

  • 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  
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights  
  • Freedom of expression and/or right to privacy / digital rights  
  • Relations with security forces
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices  
  • Product Misuse
  • Women
  • Racial and ethnic minorities  
  • Children (including child labour)

Actions on 'other' issues

Other issues: Prostitution, people with physical disabilities. The bank does not grant loans to firms involved in activities directly or indirectly connected with prostitution or child labour, or those on the Black List of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

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

Human rights information is communicated to the various stakeholders mainly via Itaú Unibanco’ Annual Report and Integrated Report.  Furthermore, employee awareness is raised via institutional communications, flyers and training courses on diversity, the Code of Ethics and issues relating to the Socio-Environmental Risk Policy. For suppliers and clients, Itaú Unibanco has specific contractual clauses relating to compliance with human rights issues. When granting Project Finance loans, criteria relating to working conditions, indigenous peoples, biodiversity conservation, the community’s health and safety, and the protection of cultural and archaeological heritage are considered at the time of when such loans are contracted and during the performance of the contract.  In addition, all employees and suppliers must adhere to Itaú Unibanco’s Code of Ethics.

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?

Itaú Unibanco has an Ombudsman to whom grievances can be submitted. The Ombudsman can also offer guidance on the issue. The channel provides employees with a confidential service on interpersonal conflict issues. Qualified persons receive the grievances and deal with them appropriately, through advice, conflict mediation and even investigation of the most serious grievances. Decisions about disciplinary measures are always taken in a collegiate manner by the Ombudsman, the Human Resources Department and the manager involved. In 2013, Itaú Unibanco recorded five cases of discrimination, all of which were considered unfounded. In all situations considered founded,  disciplinary measures are applied. These measures are set out in Itaú Unibanco’s Disciplinary Measures Enforcement Policy, which is available to all employees. More information on the issue is available in the Annual Report.

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

Itaú Unibanco is a signatory to the following human rights commitments and voluntary initiatives:

  • Equator Principles III: Itaú Unibanco is a member of the Steering Committee.
  • Business Contributions to the Promotion of a Green and Inclusive Economy (RIO+20)
  • Global Compact: Itaú Unibanco is a member of the Brazilian Committee of the Global Compact
  • UNEP – Finance Initiative: Itaú takes part in the Task Force Latin America
  • National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labour
  • Business Charter for Human Rights and the Promotion of Decent Work

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.

The UN Guiding Principles guided the making of Itaú Unibanco’s Public Commitment to Human Rights and steered the development of the human rights management process (policies, procedures and audits) within the organisation.

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

Some of the obstacles that the organisation encounters are connected with the prioritisation of  the most significant issues for the sector in which it operates, the evaluation of the impact of human rights issues on business and the continuous monitoring of partners’ (suppliers’ and clients’) adherence to commitments made.