Responsibility for Human Rights

  • New human rights position resolved by Board of Executive Directors and published

BASF acknowledges its responsibility to respect internationally recognized human rights. We have embedded this into our Code of Conduct and our human rights position. In 2019, we updated our human rights position based on the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. All employees and members of management bodies are responsible for ensuring that we act in accordance with our Code of Conduct and our human rights position. We uphold our standards worldwide, even where they exceed local legal requirements. We avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through our own operations.

From 2020 onward, our Compliance organization will steer the topic of human rights and develop binding policies. A group of internal experts from different specialist units will also meet regularly to coordinate relevant topics across units. This group will serve an advisory function for issues such as conflicting goals, will develop and implement specific training, and ensure that due diligence structures and processes are in place. To systematically incorporate external expertise, we decided to establish a Human Rights Advisory Council with independent, international human rights experts in 2020. Our Stakeholder Advisory Council also brings external perspectives to discussions with the Board of Executive Directors. We see assuming our human rights responsibilities as a continuous process. This is why we continuously review our policies and processes and update them if necessary.

We want to ensure that our actions do not have a negative impact on humans rights. We have long used monitoring and management systems such as health, safety, product stewardship or labor and social standards to identify potential and actual negative impacts. Evaluating potential human rights impacts is an integral part of risks analyses, for example for investment projects or product assessments. In 2019, we additionally conducted a comprehensive human rights compliance assessment, developed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights. This assessment covers international human rights standards as well as potential impacts on our stakeholders. We perform due diligence processes on the basis of this.

Our measures and criteria for monitoring and complying with human rights are integrated into the supplier evaluation processes; our global monitoring systems for environmental protection, safety and security, health protection and product stewardship; the evaluation of investment, acquisition and divestiture projects; assessments along the product lifecycle; training for security personnel at our sites; and systems to monitor labor and social standards.

As an internationally operating company, we are embedded in many societies and engage with partners around the world. We rely on our partners (joint venture partners, contractors, suppliers, and customers), expect them to comply with internationally recognized human rights standards and to replicate them further along the value chain with their subsequent partners. For instance, we contractually agreed with our two joint venture partners in the Chinese region of Xinjiang that the basis for joint activities is the BASF Code of Conduct and the requirements embedded in it to respect human rights and relevant labor and social standards (such as the exclusion of forced labor and discrimination in hiring, promotion and dismissal practices). We review this on a regular basis with audits. We support our partners in their efforts to meet their respective responsibilities. Together, we strive to avoid harm to human rights along our value chain. We have defined our expectations in a binding Supplier Code of Conduct.

Employees and third parties can report potential violations of laws or company guidelines to our compliance hotlines. In 2019, 228 human rights-related complaints were received by phone as well as by post and e-mail. All complaints received were reviewed and forwarded to the relevant departments for in-depth investigation. If justified, appropriate measures were taken.

For many years now, we have engaged in constructive dialog on human rights with other companies, nongovernmental organizations, international organizations and multi-stakeholder initiatives to better understand different perspectives and address conflicting goals. BASF is a founding member of the U.N. Global Compact and a member of the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI), a group of globally operating companies from various sectors. The initiative aims to ensure implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We report on our global targets, monitoring systems and measures to integrate human rights topics into our business activities in publications such as this report and online.