Access to an effective grievance mechanism for employees in global supply chains is an essential part of corporate due diligence, in order to uncover human rights risks and potential rights violations. In practice this often poses a challenge, as employees with varying circumstances - e.g. language skills, access to technology, cultural differences – should all have equal access to an effective grievance mechanism.
Lidl recognises ‘effective grievance mechanisms’ as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), meaning that they are legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, a source of continuous learning and based on engagement and dialogue. Grievance mechanisms form part of our Supplier Code of Conduct and we firmly believe that when these are implemented effectively, human rights violations can be better identified and thereby remediated in a meaningful way.
Lidl has therefore set itself the goal of piloting grievance mechanisms in various supply chains, in order to identify scalable and effective approaches. As a first step, we have started to pilot grievance mechanisms in three high risk supply chains:
As part of this pilot project, we have worked with our partner Elevate on a new, effective grievance mechanism for workers in the berry sector in Huelva, Spain. The grievance mechanism will be piloted with selected producers as part of the 2021/2022 harvest season. This mechanism has multiple grievance channels, including a hotline operated by trained staff, as well as the ability to report complaints via Whatsapp. Complaints are accepted in any language and verbal exchange with the hotline employees is possible in Spanish, Arabic and English. All workers are trained in the use of the grievance mechanism. As the majority of the workers on site are women from North Africa and Eastern Europe, all hotline employees are women. We will evaluate this pilot after the end of the harvest season, and report on results and next steps.
Coconut milk, Vietnam
In Vietnam we are piloting a grievance mechanism which is provided by the service provider Ulula in cooperation with Amfori. This is a mechanism that is tested in both non-food and food sectors. Lidl is participating in this project with production facilities in both the textile and coconut milk sector. As part of this pilot, workers are provided with various channels to share their grievance. As several clients are often active in a production facility, grievances are investigated formally with the involvement of a third party and remedial measures are developed. The pilot will run until mid-2022 and will continue thereafter with the potential for scaling up the project.
We are working with our suppliers Griesson - de Beukelaer and Cargill to pilot an effective grievance mechanism in the palm oil sector. As part of the pilot, we will work with selected palm oil suppliers and their palm oil plantations to evaluate whether the grievance mechanism is suitable for a further roll-out in other regions or in relation to other product groups. The pilot is currently in the development phase and is expected to run until the end of 2022.