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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.


Land Rights | Child Labor | Hours of Work | Contract Labor

Workplace Safety | Forced Labor and Human Trafficking  


Land Rights

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 issues in our supply chain. 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 and to advance our ongoing efforts to drive transparency and accountability across our global supply chain. The commitments build on the company's Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles announced in July of 2013.

The recent commitments include zero tolerance for land grabs, adherence to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and disclosure of the top three countries and suppliers of cane sugar.  In addition, we have a strategy and action plan in place that includes conducting baseline studies focused on forced and migrant labor, child labor and land rights issues in a number of  key countries.   The baseline due diligence studies are being conducted by third-party research and auditing firms and involve extensive local stakeholder engagement in each country. The results of the baseline studies will give us a factual basis to engage with industry, government and NGOs to mitigate human rights impacts, as needed. 

Related Links

Child Labor

Our Human 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 deep in supply chains, for instance at the farm level.  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 Since 1997, the Little Red Schoolhouse project has built over 82 buildings benefitting nearly 51,000 public schoolchildren in remote areas of the Philippines.

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 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.

As noted in the Land Rights section above, we have a strategy and action plan in place that includes conducting baseline studies focused on forced and migrant labor, child labor and land rights issues in a number of key countries.   The baseline due diligence studies are being conducted by third-party research and auditing firms and involve extensive local stakeholder engagement in each country. The results of the baseline studies will give us a factual basis to engage with industry, government and NGOs to mitigate human rights impacts, as needed.  (See Land Rights section for more detail.)


Related Links

Reducing Child Labor and Forced Labor Tool Kit

Country Sugar Studies

Hours of Work

Compliance with local work hours and overtime laws is a fundamental component of our Human 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 in 2012 our Company is holding more contract and agency labor suppliers accountable for the ethical treatment of these workers.

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. 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 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.

.Related Links

Workplace Safety 

Every worker has a fundamental right to a safe and healthy workplace. Our Human 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 new hire 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 Human Rights Policy and Supplier Guiding Principles expressly prohibit the use of all forms of forced labor, including prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor, military labor, slave labor and human trafficking.

The Coca-Cola Company's Human Rights Policy applies to all of the entities that it owns, holds a majority interest in or for which we have management responsibility. Our Human Rights Policy is guided by international human rights principles, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The policy provides a consistent approach to workplace rights worldwide and embeds it as an integral part of our culture, strategy and day-to-day operations. We conduct independent third party assessments of our operations to validate compliance to our Human Rights Policy. In the past year, we have trained thousands of Company associates on our Human Rights Policy. This training has now been incorporated as a standard training module for all employees.

Our Supplier Guiding Principles (SGP) communicate our values and expectations of suppliers and emphasize the importance of responsible workplace practices that respect human rights and comply, at a minimum, with applicable environmental and local labor laws and core international conventions. The Supplier Guiding Principles reflect our commitment to respect human rights across our business system and global supply chain.

These minimum requirements are a part of all agreements between The Coca-Cola Company and all of our direct and authorized suppliers that make up our global supply chain. We expect our suppliers to develop and implement appropriate internal business processes to ensure compliance with the Supplier Guiding Principles. The Company routinely verifies compliance by using independent third parties to assess suppliers' compliance with the SGP; the assessments generally include confidential interviews with employees and on-site contract workers. If a supplier fails to uphold any aspect of the SGP requirements, the supplier is expected to implement corrective actions. The Company reserves the right to conduct unannounced audits at is discretion and to terminate an agreement with any supplier that cannot demonstrate that it is upholding the SGP requirements. Company employees are required to report any violation of Company policy or law, including WRP and SGP. The Company maintains a third-party service to allow employees and vendors to report violations 24 hours a day. In all of our Purchase Orders, suppliers certify that all product supplied is in compliance with all applicable country laws and regulations, including those regarding forced labor, including human trafficking.

The Coca-Cola Company is 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.

The mission of gBCAT is to mobilize the expertise, resources and collective voice of its members to eliminate human trafficking and other forms of forced labor in supply chains. Other founding members include: ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Delta Air Lines, Carlson, ManpowerGroup, LexisNexis, NXP and Travelport.

The Coca-Cola Company expressly prohibits any form of human trafficking within our system or by any company that directly supplies or provides services to our business. We conduct more than 2,000 audits each year of our Company, franchise bottlers and supply chain to ensure compliance with our workplace and human rights policies, which include provisions prohibiting human trafficking.

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 2013, 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.

Recognizing that migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking, in 2014 we reviewed our policies and due diligence activities with the aim of better protecting such workers throughout our supply chain.   We publically committed to three principles related to the recruitment and employment of migrant workers:

  1. Employment terms are represented in a truthful, clear manner and in the language understood by workers prior to employment
  2. Worker does not pay recruitment, placement or transportation fees (including transportation to and from host country)
  3. Worker has access to personal identity documents (2 hours)

These principles, along with our strong overall prohibition of forced labor, align with the recent Executive Order 13627 and create a framework for responsible and transparent recruitment and employment practices. 

Related Links

  • Issue Guidance: expanded guidance on specific topic areas, including Migrant Worker Recruitment and Employment practices.