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Responding department: Sustainable Development, Corporate and Legal Affairs

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

A stand-alone human rights policy, publicly available at: [link]

Other documents:

  • Sustainable development report (pages 3 and 17): [link]
  • Annual report (page 40): [link]
  • Supplier code of conduct: [link] 

How are human rights governed in your company?

Our progress and performance on human rights and sustainable development are overseen by the corporate accountability and risk assurance committee of the board (CARAC). The SABMiller Executive Committee is responsible for approving policy and strategy as regards human rights, whilst divisional Excoms are responsible for the implementation of policy and strategy.

How are human rights managed within your company?

 The Sustainable Development (SD) team is responsible for guiding strategy on human rights in the context of: emerging external best practice; stakeholder and civil society concerns; and global policy dialogues. The SD team is responsible for collecting and reporting externally the group’s performance, including data, case studies, targets and goals. The Group Human Resources function and the Human Resources Executive Forum are responsible for taking an overview of the management of human rights issues within the group’s operations. The company's subsidiaries report performance and progress on human rights every six months as part of our sustainable development reporting. In addition to reporting in our annual Sustainable Development report, tracking can be viewed publicly at: [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?

Beer is a product with close local connections between sourcing, production and marketing. Each of our operations maintains a close dialogue with the communities of which we are a part, across many issues including human rights. Whistle-blowing systems are also in place.

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
  • Displacement and  community relocation
  • Access to water
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices
  • Product Misuse
  • Women
  • Children (including child  labour)
  • Indigenous peoples

Actions on access to water

On water rights, SABMiller recognises that water security is a risk we share with communities, farmers and other businesses. We work beyond our own fenceline to enable collective management of this shared risk, for example through the Water Futures Partnership, which we co-founded with GIZ and WWF: [link] For a local example of our work with others to tackle the root causes of water scarcity and hence secure water rights, see this case study from Neemrana, Rajasthan: [link]

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

We report these commitments, our approach and results annually in both our Annual Report and our Sustainable Development report:

  • Annual report (page 40): [link]
  • Sustainable development report (pages 3 and 17): [link]
  • We also have a more detailed publicly available reporting tool: [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?

Provisions are in place, developed locally in response to the wide variety of contexts across more than 80 countries. This is also an area we are reviewing and updating with our regional operations during the course of 2015.

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

As outlined in our human rights policy, SABMiller is an active participant in the United Nations Global Compact - both internationally and through UNGC country networks. We are committed to conducting its business with due observation of the principles of the UDHR, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and ILO Core Conventions on Labour Standards; and we participate in consultations and processes linked to these. We were actively involved in the UNGC- and FAO-led process to develop the sustainable agriculture business principles, which had significant human rights dimensions.

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.

We have strengthened our approach to human rights in our value chain within an updated Supplier Code of Conduct (Oct 2014) and this has been shaped by the UN Guiding Principles. The Supplier Code of Conduct is available at: [link]

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

As shown in the examples under water, SABMiller seeks to ensure we both comply with human rights obligations and go beyond a narrow "compliance" focus, to play a collaborative role in tackling the root causes that lead to the denial of rights. Scrutiny and challenge are welcome and often support improvements in a company's performance, but a narrow compliance focus can be reinforced by some forms of activism that presume there is an automatic tension between a company's interests and community rights. Our experience is the opposite: our business prospers where the society of which we are a part prospers, and human rights are central to that broad vision of prosperity. For example, we can only tackle our own business water risk through collaborative action starting from the recognition that sustainable solutions are those that help secure water for all who need it, for the long term. On land rights, security of tenure for the smallholder farmers who supply us enables both them and us to invest in raising the productivity of their land - there is a business value for us in progress for them on security of land tenure. Missing these kinds of win-win through a presumption of conflict is a lost opportunity and a challenge for companies and others to tackle together.