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Responding department: External Communications (with input from Human Resources, Security, Legal, Contract and Procurement, Social Performance)

Stock exchange symbol: (RDSB:LN)

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

Human Rights Policy:


Additional policies:

How are human rights governed in your company?

Our approach to human rights is informed by general concepts from the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We built on the strength of our experience and integrated human rights into existing governance and business management systems.

 The Shell General Business Principles, Shell Code of Conduct and relevant policies in the areas of human resources, security, contracting & procurement, and social performance support our work to meet society’s expectations around human rights.

We focus on four areas across Shell’s activities where respect for human rights is especially critical to the way we operate: communities, labour, supply chains and security.

A human rights working group (HRWG) of experts co-ordinates our activities in this area across the company which is overseen by the Health, Security, Safety, Environment and Social Performance (HSSE SP) Executive.

The Corporate and Social Responsibility Committee (CSRC) of the Board of Royal Dutch Shell plc reviews policies and performance with respect to the Shell General Business Principles, Code of Conduct, HSSE & SP standards and issues of public concern on behalf of the Board.

We seek to work with contractors and suppliers who contribute to sustainable development and are economically, environmentally and socially responsible. The Shell Supplier Principles provide a simple and consistent framework of our expectations for all our suppliers.

The Shell General Business Principles are designed to ensure that our employees respect the human rights related to their activities and seek business partners and suppliers to observe standards similar to our own.

Our Code of Conduct informs staff how to apply our Business Principles, including respect for the human rights of our employees and support for human rights in line with the legitimate role of business.

In this code we recognize that conducting our activities in a manner that respects human rights as set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core conventions of the International Labour Organization supports our licence to operate.


How are human rights managed within your company?

We provide training on our Business Principles for new staff and for those moving to new positions.

Our Code of Conduct informs staff how to apply our Business Principles, including respect for the human rights of our employees and support for human rights in line with the legitimate role of business.

We train individuals on how to comply with the code and we offer on-line human rights training.

We provide more intensive training in operational areas that have poor human rights records.

We have, for example, worked with the Danish Institute for Human Rights to train staff and contractors in Nigeria since 2005 in managing difficult situations, like responding to conflict in local communities.

With CLEEN Foundation a leading Nigerian NGO we are also training security staff on our security standards.

We provide a training supplement called Human Rights Dilemmas to help managers to understand their responsibilities and take action to support human rights.

Our work with the Danish Institute for Human Rights has helped us to understand and address the human rights risks we face when entering or operating in politically sensitive countries and regions.

The institute’s country risk assessments compare local laws and practices with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and more than 80 other international treaties.

It identifies the main risk areas in a country, like labour rights for foreign labourers or the behaviour of security forces.

Companies can use the tool to test the procedures and practices they have in place for respecting these rights and work to close any gaps.

We began working with the Human Rights Compliance Assessment tools in 2001.

The tools complement existing risk processes and provide systematic measuring and monitoring of human rights risks.

They also raise awareness among our staff and help them to develop their skills, making it easier to enter into external dialogue.


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?

We carry out impact assessments before making any major change to an existing operation or starting a new project. This includes listening to the local community as part of considering potential positive and negative effects of a project and we can adapt its design if appropriate. At every review stage of the project we consider environmental, social and health impacts and mitigations – in consultation with local communities – as we decide how, or whether to, move ahead. [link]

We aim to encourage economic and social development while mitigating (potential) negative impacts of our operations. The benefits we bring to local people can include jobs, capacity building, technology, contracting and business opportunities, ecosystem restoration and social investment. [link]

Impact assessments: [link]

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

Given the sheer size and diversity of our global operations, Shell is potentially confronted with myriad issues on a regular basis. Shell has strong policies and procedures, as outlined above, that ensure that we remain in the best position possible to avoid such issues of occurring, or reduce the impact of such issues on our staff.

Examples elaborated below.

Actions on health

  • Health (including workplace health & safety, prevention of pollution) [link]  

Actions on workplace diversity / non-discrimination

  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination [link]

Actions on forced labour and human trafficking

  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains) [link]

Actions on sexual harassment

Actions on freedom of association and trade union rights

  • Freedom of association and trade union rights [link] 

Actions on displacement and community relocation

  • Displacement and community relocation [link]

Actions on housing

  • Housing 

Actions on access to water

Actions on relations with security providers

  • Relations with security forces [link]  

Actions on conflict minerals

Actions on tax avoidance & revenue transparency

  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices [link]

Actions on product misuse

  • Product misuse [link]       

Actions on women

Actions on children (including child labour)

  • Children (including child labour)

Actions on indigenous peoples

Actions on racial and ethnic minorities

  • Racial and ethnic minorities [link] 

Actions on migrant workers

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


  • Internal communications
  • Internal web site
  • Mandatory SGBP, CoC and Human rights training

Example Safety Days: [link]


  • Routine local stakeholder engagement
  • Sustainability Report
  • Global Business Initiative
  • International Organisation of Employers

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?

We promote safe reporting of views about our processes and practices. In addition to local channels, our global telephone helpline and website enable employees to report potential breaches of the Shell General Business Principles and Code of Conduct, confidentially and anonymously, in a choice of several languages.

Shell introduced The Global Helpline which enables Shell employees and others to raise concerns or dilemmas, or to seek advice on a matter related to compliance with the law and Shell’s business principles (SGBP) and Code of Conduct, in full confidence and without fear of retaliation. [link]

Dedicated to community complaints Shell has set up local Community Feedback Mechanisms (CFMs) for community stakeholders who feel they are affected by our business activities where they can raise questions, suggestions and/or concerns and get them addressed in a prompt and professional manner. CFMs are established at an operating-company level and are the responsibility of local managers through the local SP teams, in particular the SP Advisor and Community Liaison Officer (CLO). CFMs are designed to benefit, communities, Shell and each business entity by:

Improving the way we respond to community feedback/concerns and measure/monitor progress;

Enabling more proactive efforts to mitigate impacts that give rise to complaints; and

Facilitating better stakeholder engagement and management of risks.

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

We support international declarations and conventions developed to respect human rights. Together with other firms, non-governmental organisations and governments we are involved in several external voluntary initiatives designed to help implement human rights policies.

We also consult with experts to better understand social challenges in areas where we operate.Our work with the Danish Institute for Human Rights is helping us to further shape our approach on human rights. The collaboration has helped us integrate human rights thinking into our existing business processes, aiming to identify and address potential impacts; particularly when we consider entering or operating in politically sensitive countries and regions.

With our industry counterparts through IPIECA (The global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues) we contributed to the industry programme on human rights. The programme published guides on human rights due diligence, impact assessment and human rights, and community feedback mechanisms, VPSHR implementation in the oil and gas industry.

We are a member of the Global Business Initiative for Human Rights (GBI), a group of businesses from different sectors that aims to advance human rights in a business context around the world. Our support also includes external initiatives designed to uphold human rights, such as the UN Global Compact, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.

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.

Actions triggered by the UN Guiding Principles

  • Human Rights Implementation Project Cross functional human rights working group
  • Supplier principles
  • Community Feedback Mechanisms
  • Industry collaboration in IPIECA and GBI
  • Existing practice that is refined with information from the UN Guiding Principles
  • Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA)

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

Shell operates in environments where we require close cooperation and support of governments to complement our own strong human rights processes, standards and policies. However Governments do not always share the same approach and thus the legal framework does not always exist to allow a solid Human Rights environment. Shell continues to liaise with governments on the topic and demonstrate the values of having a supporting legal framework, law enforcement systems and a robust approach that's conducive to tackling human rights related issues.