International retailer Ahold Delhaize announced today the publication of the company’s inaugural human rights report, outlining the steps Ahold Delhaize and its local brands are taking to safeguard human rights, within the organization and across the supply chain. The report is based on the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework and is the result of a 2-year global human rights due diligence process that undertaken by the company.

In the Human Rights Report, Ahold Delhaize outlines six salient human rights issues that it will focus on as initial priorities, as well as six additional relevant issues, identified in consultation with internal and external stakeholders. The UN Guiding Principles emphasize saliency in regards to human rights issues, as opposed to materiality, in order to focus on the risks to people, rather than to the company. The issues identified by the company are as follows:

  • Salient issues: Health and Safety, Compensation, Freedom of Association, Women’s Rights, Forced Labor, and Discrimination & Harassment
  • Additional relevant issues: Affordable Healthy Food, Water & Sanitation, Working Conditions, Children’s Rights, Child Labor, and Privacy

Ahold Delhaize also announced that is strengthening its governance to ensure that human rights are fully embedded within its strategy and to support the brands as they ensure that the protection of human rights is an integral part of their business activities.

Commenting on the progress the company is making in its human rights efforts, Frans Muller, Chief Executive Officer of Ahold Delhaize said:

“2020 is an historic year of unprecedented events arising from the COVID-19 outbreak and the worldwide protests in support of racial justice and equality. These events once again make us realize that, as a global retailer, we play a pivotal role in society. We have a big responsibility to set the right example and help dismantle structures that systematically disadvantage some and advantage others. To this end, I am pleased to see we are making progress in our human rights policies, but we’re not there yet and more work must be done. Our commitment to respect human rights and address the many challenges related to that commitment cannot be fulfilled alone. It requires collaboration and partnership both across the food chain and in our communities.”

In a Q&A session published on the company’s website, Ahold Delhaize’s Chief Legal Officer, Jan Ernst de Groot expanded on the process behind the new report:

“As a large food retailer, we work at the heart of society and supply chains, deeply connected to our communities and interacting with millions of people daily. Our belief that all people should be treated with dignity and respect has been at the core of our Code of Ethics for many years; however, the difficult part for many associates is understanding how to integrate this into their daily work. It’s a journey that never ends, because as human lives and business models evolve over time, so does the manifestation of human rights and what they stand for.”

Chief Human Resources Officer, Abbe Luersman added:

“After publishing our position on Human Rights in 2017, we started a human rights due diligence in 2018 to help us better understand the company’s impacts and opportunities. This report is the result of that work and is based on the UN Guiding Principles and its Reporting Framework. We believe that by addressing human rights pro-actively, we can positively impact many lives.”