Our Company

  • Share

Addressing Global Issues

Addressing Global Issues

We consider human and workplace rights—as articulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work—to be inviolable. We take a proactive approach to respecting these rights in every workplace of The Coca-Cola Company, in our bottling system, in our supply chain and in the communities in which we operate.

Where human rights issues are identified in our global value chain, we work diligently to address them as documented by the Danish Institute for Human Rights' Arc of Human Rights Priorities 
publication. Examples of these are listed below.

Child Labor

Our Human Rights StatementWorkplace Rights Policy and Supplier Guiding Principles prohibit the use of child labor. While there is no child labor in our Company-owned operations, we are aware that child labor persists on the farms that grow cane for our sugar suppliers, driven by poverty and local social norms. Our Company does not typically purchase ingredients, such as sugar, directly from farms, nor are we owners of sugar farms or plantations, but as a major buyer of sugar and other agricultural ingredients, we are taking action and using our influence to help end child labor in sugar cane fields.

Our approach is both global and local. At the global level, we set corporate policy, convene experts, and engage with governments, NGOs and other companies. At the same time, we collaborate with suppliers, industry groups and local stakeholders to address the issue with farmers. In recent years, we have joined collaborative efforts in El Salvador that have dramatically reduced child labor in cane fields. We are also taking action in Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and 14 other countries. Recent developments:

As part of our Little Red Schoolhouse project, we continued our work with the ILO-IPEC director for the Philippines, the government of Bukidnon province and the Sugar Industry Foundation to eliminate child labor in Bukidnon and enroll child laborers in schools. A grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation funded the construction of a high school in Bukidnon, which has the country's highest incidence of child labor and the highest number of school-aged children not working or attending school. Since 1997, the Little Red Schoolhouse project has built over 82 buildings benefitting nearly 51,000 public schoolchildren in remote areas of the Philippines.

Most recently, we collaborated with ILO-IPEC Mexico to design and distribute a training guide discouraging the use of child labor among sugar farmers while encouraging more efficient farming practices. We also facilitated ILO-IPEC's access to several farms supplying two of our authorized sugar refineries, enabling ILO-IPEC staff to conduct appropriate interventions to address child labor.

In addition, we collaborated with our bottler in Bolivia to encourage our major sugar supplier to address hazardous child labor issues and improve the overall labor conditions in their sugar supply chain.  This work was done as in collaboration with UNICEF.

In 2013, we completed our second round of funding to Save the Children Honduras to raise community awareness and support the Honduran Sugar Producers Association's continued efforts to reduce hazardous child labor.

We were the first company to participate in an assessment as part of an ILO-IPEC and International Organization of Employers project to provide companies with guidance on helping to eliminate child labor in their operations and throughout their supply chains.

Our audits have detected child labor and generally poor compliance with our Supplier Guiding Principles at sugar mills in India. We worked with our peers in AIM-PROGRESS to hold a forum for more than 50 sugar suppliers in July 2012. The conference delivered a message of zero tolerance for child and forced labor and offered guidance for suppliers who want to bring their businesses into compliance with our standards and earn Bonsucro certification. Recognizing that improving mill conditions means little if farm conditions do not improve, we are also working with Indian sugarcane mills to eradicate child labor in the fields.

On an annual basis, we recognize the ILO's World Day Against Child Labor, raising awareness Companywide about our policies and the problem of child labor in the sugar industry.

Related Links

Reducing Child Labor and Forced Labor Tool Kit

Country Sugar Studies

Land Rights

In November 2013, our Company announced a set of industry-leading commitments to protect the land rights of farmers and communities in the world’s top sugarcane-producing regions, advancing its ongoing efforts to drive transparency and accountability across its global supply chain. The commitments build on the company's Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles announced in July of 2013.

Our Company believes that a healthy agricultural supply chain is essential to the well-being of the communities where we operate and to the success of our business.  Our approach to sustainable sourcing is rooted in principles to protect the environment, to uphold human and workplace rights, and to help build more sustainable communities.  In collaboration with Oxfam, we outlined a concrete action plan to address land rights in its supply chain, including zero tolerance for land grabs.

Our zero tolerance declaration includes commitments to: adhere to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent across its operations and require suppliers to follow suit; disclose the top three countries and suppliers of its cane sugar; conduct and publish third-party social, environmental and human rights assessments, with an initial focus on land conflicts in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, India, the Philippines, Thailand and South Africa; and engage with governments and international organizations to advocate for responsible land rights practices.

While our company does not typically purchase ingredients directly from farms, nor are we owners of sugar farms or plantations, we acknowledge that as a major buyer of several agricultural ingredients, we have a responsibility to take action and use our influence to help protect the land rights of local communities. We are committed to being part of a solution in addressing land rights, and look forward to continuing to engage with Oxfam and other stakeholders to advance this important dialogue and bring about meaningful change.

Related Links

Hours of Work

Compliance with local work hours and overtime laws is a fundamental component of our Workplace Rights Policy and Supplier Guiding Principles. Reducing overtime can increase employee morale and decrease quality incidents thereby improving business results and fostering a Great Place to Work. To help our bottlers and supply partners manage this issue we seek to understand the root cause and help identify solutions which can be provide win-win opportunities. In a number of countries we carefully tracked overtime to identify causes and then developed a guidance document to provide facilities with practical strategies to reduce overtime as well as real case studies to demonstrate that success is possible.

Related Links
    •    Hours of Work Guidance

Contract Labor

Our Company and bottling partners, like many businesses, employ contract and agency labor. There are many legitimate uses of contract labor, and we expect contract workers, through third-party providers, to continue to play an important role in our business. Through enhancements to our Supplier Guiding Principles assessments (please see above) our Company is holding more contract and agency labor suppliers accountable for the ethical treatment of these workers. Our Supplier Guiding Principles also informed our new Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles to ensure fair labor practices and the respect of human and workplace rights on farms in our supply chain.

Our commitment to human and workplace rights, as well as our commitment to operating a sustainable business, compels us to respect the rights of all workers, including those not directly employed by our Company or bottling partners. So, we are working with our business units and our bottling partners to develop a proactive, holistic approach to managing contract labor that protects workers and our Company by addressing critical issues at each phase of a contract worker's engagement with us-from our initial decision to use contract labor through the end of the relationship with labor suppliers or specific workers. We expect our personnel and our bottling partners to understand the risks associated with contract labor and to carefully manage the labor agencies engaged. We also expect them to provide training, a safe work environment and to avoid using termination practices that circumvent legal obligations.

We take a number of steps to ensure responsible engagement of the contract and agency workers we employ, including:

  • Our Human Rights Statement, Workplace Rights Policy and Supplier Guiding Principles outline our commitments and expectations for treatment of all workers. Any allegation of worker abuse-including abuse of contract laborers-is a very serious issue that we fully investigate.
  • We conduct continuous assessments of our operations and of key authorized contract labor suppliers to ensure the responsible treatment of contract laborers.
  • We engage with key stakeholders to understand their perspective regarding potential abuse of contract workers. The subject of contract and agency labor is a standing agenda item for our semiannual meetings with the IUF. Through these meetings, we have successfully addressed a number of concerns regarding contract workers in India, Pakistan and the Philippines.
  • We provide our largest bottling partners with contract labor risk-mitigation checklists and other tools to help them manage contract labor appropriately.

In 2012, we developed a contract labor "gap analysis" tool and a contract labor human rights due diligence checklist for our Company and our bottlers. The checklist enables a quick self-assessment. The gap analysis tool enables bottling partners and business units to conduct a deeper assessment of their current contract labor practices compared to generally accepted good practices, and to quickly see their potential risk. Both are part of our proactive, holistic approach to addressing each phase of a contract worker's engagement with us, from our initial decision to use contract labor through the end of our relationship with a contract worker.

Related Links

Workplace Safety

Every worker has a fundamental right to a safe and healthy workplace. Our Workplace Rights Policy demands we take responsibility for maintaining a productive workplace by working to minimize the risk of accidents, injury and exposure to health risks for all of our associates and contractors.

Details of our Workplace Safety Record are included in the Workplace Safety section of our current Sustainability Report. Following are key points

  • The Coca-Cola Operating Requirements (KORE) define the policies, standards and requirements for managing safety, the environment and quality throughout our operations.
  • To guide us in achieving a safe work environment for our associates, KORE defines a rigorous set of operational controls to manage known risks.
  • The controls generally align with top global requirements and consensus standards. In addition, we engage recognized external audit firms to assess the compliance of each of our manufacturing operations with applicable laws and regulations and our Company occupational safety and health requirements.
  • We provide substantial safety training to our associates using the training requirements defined in KORE as a global baseline. Training covers newhire induction and periodic refresher training for all associates and other workers conducting work on our behalf. In 2012 and 2013, we launched or enhanced several platforms to increase safety capabilities across our system, including:
    • A “Safety and Environment Successful Solutions” portal, which provides a common online location where safety leaders can create and share successful safety practices from across the system.
    • A monthly online training series geared especially toward safety and environmental professionals and available to all Coca-Cola system associates.

Forced Labor and Human Trafficking

Our Company proactively addresses human trafficking and forced labor through our Human Rights Statement, Workplace Rights Policy and Supplier Guiding Principles. These policies are supported by independent assessments of supplier, bottler and Company-owned facilities and are conducted by third parties to verify compliance with our standards that prohibit trafficking and slavery in supply chains.

In February 2012, we hosted a conference on human trafficking in labor sourcing, which was attended by more than 75 business leaders, human rights experts investors, NGOs, legal experts and others. The conference focused on exploring solutions to eliminate human trafficking in labor sourcing. In January 2013 in Atlanta, we sponsored a panel discussion on human trafficking that was moderated by former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin. In May, in conjunction with our human rights conference, we hosted a one-day multi-stakeholder meeting on human trafficking sponsored by the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Humanity United to address two key contributors to human trafficking: holding of passports and payment of recruiting fees.

We also are a founding member of the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT), a group of global corporations that recognize the critical role business can play in ending human trafficking and all forms of modern-day slavery.

Please see section titled “Force Labor & Human Trafficking” (hyperlink) for additional details.

Related Links

Reducing Child Labor and Forced Labor Tool Kit