Human Rights & Ethical Trade

Human Rights & Ethical Trade

UPHOLDING HUMAN RIGHTS AND PROTECTING OUR WORKERS

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From growers and farm workers, to packers and truckers, we enforce consistent, rigorous standards to protect workers.

To ensure we are upholding the rights of people impacted by our business and continually driving improvements, we have adopted a range of approaches and have integrated targets across the business. 

We underpin our business operations with strong, long term relationships, making sure that we work with our suppliers to address the challenges facing our wider supply chains . Our core standards are outlined in our Supplier Code of Conduct, which is fundamental to the relationship between Lidl and its contracted business partners. It defines the social expectations of all global direct and indirect suppliers and forms an integral part of our commercial contracts.

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Human rights due diligence

As part of our commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), we implement human rights due diligence as part of our business operations. This means that we systematically monitor and assess human rights risks in our supply chains. Our risk assessment process is informed by greater transparency, our social compliance programme, internationally recognised assessment tools, as well as knowledge gathered through our supplier relationships and engagement with stakeholders.

Over the last year, the Lidl Group conducted a human rights review of its global supply chains, enabling us to better understand the risks facing people who work in our supply chains. More information on our approach, as well as further information on the high risk commodities and countries identified through the process, can be found within our ‘Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence Policy’.  

Our Core Standards

Transparency

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Supply chain transparency plays a vital role in our commitment to upholding human rights. We are continually developing transparency in our supply chains, helping us better understand the complex journey that our products take to reach our shelves. We are one of the first global retailers to publicly disclose supply chain data within our food and non-food supply chains and we are committed to increasing this further.

ENGAGING WITH STAKEHOLDERS & MULTI-STAKEHOLDER INITIATIVES

At Lidl we actively engage with a variety of stakeholders, including civil society organisations, NGOs and trade unions to develop and implement our human rights due diligence. Through this collaboration we are able to gain insights which feed into our wider risk assessment processes.
In addition to bilateral stakeholder engagement we understand that multi-stakeholder initiatives play a vital role in leveraging supply chain action to drive systemic change, enabling us to go beyond an auditing approach. Lidl actively engages in multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) to advocate for progress, including the Roundtable for Responsible Soy, the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and the World Banana Forum.

Through our work with stakeholders, we are able to influence and engage governments on issues relating to specific workers’ rights issues within the supply chain or specific commodities. In recent years this has included action within our seafood, soy and fruit and veg supply chains.

Lidl also works collaboratively to go beyond audit and drive change at an industry level:

  • Within the Spanish fresh produce sector, which is a key source for a wide proportion of our fruit and veg lines (including berries, brassicas and citrus), we pool pre-competitive data with other retailers to identify priority topics areas relating to human rights risks. Areas for further capacity building are identified and implemented through supplier training sessions in the Spanish Ethical Trade supplier forums.
  • Through our work as part of the Retail Cocoa Collaboration, we are working with other retailers to use our collective leverage to assess the actions and progress being made by major cocoa traders working across the industry and multiple cocoa sourcing regions, on issues such as forced and child labour, incomes and deforestation. This process is raising awareness of the importance of these topics with powerful supply chain actors and maps areas of risk and improvement. The insights gained will be used to guide next steps.
  • In the global banana industry we are working collaboratively with our supplier, the World Banana Forum and Fairtrade to go beyond audit and increase incomes and wages. These interventions will impact all identified high-risk countries including Colombia, Belize, Brazil and Costa Rica among many others.

Effective grievance mechanisms

Effective grievance mechanisms play an important role in identifying human rights violations for affected individuals. Lidl recognises ‘effective grievance mechanisms’ as defined by the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights, 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 implemented a grievance mechanism via an online platform, available here, to enable any individual (whether they be connected to Lidl’s direct operations or its supply chain), to report human rights, social and environmental violations. All grievances are independently processed by the organisation’s compliance officer and the reporting system can be accessed via an internet-based application. The effectiveness of this mechanism is reviewed annually between the compliance and CSR departments.

We are also taking steps to implement grievance mechanisms within our supply chain. An aspect of our contribution of the Bangladesh Accord, a multi-stakeholder agreement designed to work towards a safe ready-made garment industry, includes active involvement with working groups aimed to develop an effective grievance mechanism for workers specifically in the textile supply chain in Bangladesh.

Similarly, through our position as a board member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) we are able to oversee the working group focussed around implementing and maintaining a grievance mechanism for people working within the palm oil industry.

By the end of 2021 we will enable access to effective grievance mechanisms and access to remedy (as defined by the UNGPs) in further identified high risk supply chains.

Responsible Recruitment

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We understand that the recruitment and supply of temporary, contract and seasonal labour is an area of risk within our supply chain. As part of our commitment to supporting the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity, we are taking steps to ensure responsible recruitment and migration with dignity within our supply chains. In 2018 we published our Responsible Recruitment in Supply Chains policy. This policy outlines the expectations of all suppliers that use labour providers as part of their business operations and outlines our approach to ensuring that workers recruited through these mechanisms have their rights protected. 

We implement a range of policies to guide the recruitment of the colleagues we employ, both directly and indirectly through recruitment agencies, to protect them from the risk of modern-day slavery. These policies include our Anti-Harassment Policy, Grievance Procedure and Eligibility to Work procedure. We continue to engage with partners on this topic and will evolve our policies as understanding increases

MODERN DAY SLAVERY

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that at least 21 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour. It is regarded as the fastest growing criminal industry and has been identified across multiple private sector economies, from construction and manufacturing to agriculture and fishing. Victims of slavery are often hidden within complex supply chains, controlled and threatened by criminal perpetrators, making their plight challenging to both identify and effectively remediate. Therefore we believe the only way to approach this topic is to ensure collaborative actions with other retailers and industry groups. More information can be reviewed on Our Partners page.

We welcome the Modern Slavery Act which the UK government introduced in 2015, enforcing businesses with a turnover of 36 million or more, to publicly disclose their approach and actions to tackle forced labour and human trafficking. Please review ourModern Slavery Statement Archive for our reports to date.

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Working towards Living Wages

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Under The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for themselves and their family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Within global food supply chains legal minimum wages are often insufficient, below what is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and too low to ensure the basic needs of farmers and employees are met.

Lidl is committed to taking an action-orientated approach to working towards achieving living incomes and living wages within our global supply chains, thereby closing existing income and wage gaps. We have implemented programs in four high-risk supply chains aimed at working towards living wages and living incomes for workers:

Smallholders

We recognise the need to support smallholder farmers to increase their resilience and prosperity. We have implemented a range of programs to support smallholder farmers within many of our key commodity supply chains.

Within the Fairtrade system it is estimated that more than 1.48 million farmers are members of small-scale producer organisations, a large majority of Fairtrade producers, producing products including coffee, cocoa and cotton. The Fairtrade Standard provides a framework for smallholder producers to build resilient and thriving organisations, generate more benefits for themselves and their communities and improve farming practices. By supporting Fairtrade producer organisations have access to training on how to strengthen their management practices and provide protection for workers. The Fairtrade Premium allows small-scale producers to drive sustainable social and economic development for their organisations, families and community. In addition, co-operatives have the flexibility to design relevant policies, including gender, to increase active and equal participation for women to access the benefits associated with Fairtrade.

Our programmes in high risk supply chains are developed and implemented in close collaboration with expert partners. Examples include improving resilience to the impacts of climate change, training towards better agricultural practices, as well as supporting women on the issue of land-rights.

Supporting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in our Supply Chains

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We know that women play a crucial role within our food supply chains and understand that women can be more vulnerable to human rights violations, violence and abuse. Discriminatory social norms in some countries limit women’s empowerment and ability to achieve the same political, economic and social status as men. Through our supply chain risk assessment, we understand that gender discrimination is prevalent within our supply chains.

We are signatories to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). The WEPs are acollaborative initiative between UN Women and the UN Global Compact. It is the first global initiative which aims to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality within businesses and their supply chains.

We regularly review our first-tier food supply chain (the final packing and production sites of suppliers of own-label products negotiated by our Lidl GB buying teams) data including site locations, worker numbers and demographics to understand risks as they emerge.

We systematically track the gender profile within our high-risk supply chains, and the specific risks impacting women. We have also implemented several projects and programmes in key priority supply chains to specifically support the livelihoods of women workers and farmers. We continue to work closely with partners to promote and support resilience amongst farmers and their communities, as well as providing an update on the impact of our programmes through our CSR reporting.

In order to develop our approach to supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment, we are committed to publishing a gender policy for our supply chains by the end of 2021. Further information on the steps we are taking as a wider business on this topic can be found as part of our Gender Pay Report published on our website. 

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Working with our non-food suppliers

We have been a member of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) since 2007, committing us to improving working conditions for people employed in our non-food supply chains. As part of the membership, Lidl’s non-food suppliers are required to regularly carry out independent social audits by qualified local personnel for all non-food producers and to comply with recognised international labour standards.

Recognising that audits only present us with a snapshot in time and do not necessarily drive improvements in themselves, we work to understand the root cause of the issues and take appropriate remediating steps. Expert partners work closely with our factories to develop and implement corrective actions following an audit.

Since 2008, we have also focused on going ‘beyond compliance’ in Bangladesh, working in partnership with the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ) to provide dedicated training programmes for production facilities to support compliance with international labour standards. Our current joint programme focuses on Bangladesh, where GIZ currently employs more than 20 people who work exclusively for Lidl and to date have delivered on-the-ground training to 80 textile manufacturers across the country. Learn more about this training program here.

We are a member of the Bangladesh Accord, which is an independent, legally-binding agreement between brands and trade unions designed to work towards a safe and healthy Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry.

Social auditing

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As part of our due diligence approach, we have established a risk-based social auditing programme, conducting third-party independent audits to measure performance against our Supplier Code of Conduct. These provide us with an important snapshot of our supply chain performance on human rights and working conditions. Following audits commissioned at our sites, suppliers develop corrective actions to address any issues raised, which we monitor on an ongoing basis. Although we recognise the limitations of audits in their ability to effectively improve working conditions or detect violations that are often hidden, such as forced labour, we feel they play an important role in our due diligence to gather supply chain information at a point in time. Through these independent assessments we gather information to support our wider risk analysis that informs our approach. We work collaboratively with suppliers to address areas of non-compliance, ensuring we tackle any challenging issues head-on.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

Our Ethical Trade Training Resources for Suppliers document is a freely available document that signposts Lidl suppliers to training resources. A full document is available on request from CSR@lidl.co.uk.

Our Lidl GB Supplier Social Compliance Guidance outlines the expectations of all our direct suppliers and provides greater transparency on our ethical trade monitoring programme.

Click here to review all supplier guidance documents