"When we look at what has worked best for us over the past 125 years, it has not been about a single big-bang product innovation, a new marketing breakthrough or a bullet-proof business model. The secret to our secret formula has always been the power of the relationships and partnerships our people have forged all around the world."
-- Muhtar Kent
We believe that dialogue with a wide-range of external stakeholders is critical to respecting human and workplace rights within our system. Continuous dialogue enables us to identify and address potential issues proactively and collaboratively. By combining our experience with the expertise, passion and knowledge of our stakeholders and partners we develop robust approaches to respect human and workplace rights. Furthermore, by working with other relevant parties from various sectors including private, public and non-profit and labor, we believe we can have a greater and more sustainable impact than by working alone. Here are some examples of our ongoing engagement.
International Union of Foodworkers (IUF)
Since 2005 we have met twice annually with the IUF and several of its affiliates. The International Union of Foodworkers is a world-wide federation of trade unions representing workers in sectors including agriculture and plantations, food and beverages, and hotels among others. More than 30 percent of our business system’s employees are members of unions affiliated with the IUF. The semi-annual meetings, in addition to ongoing communications, provide a forum to discuss a variety of labor relations matters. Read our updated joint statement (PDF).
Human Rights Conferences
During the past six years we have hosted industry conferences on human rights topics at our facilities in Atlanta which have been sponsored by the United States Council for International Business, International Organization of Employers and the Chamber of Commerce and in collaboration with the International Labor Organization to tackle issues related to human rights. These conferences have engaged business in addressing forced labor, child labor, and other business and human rights issues. In 2010 and 2011, Professor John Ruggie, the former UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, was the keynote speaker and focused on his “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework for respecting human rights in a business context and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
In May 2013, we hosted our sixth human rights conference, convening more than 150 leaders from businesses, government and non-governmental organizations to discuss the role of businesses in respecting human rights. The conference was aimed at giving attendees a better understanding of how to help their companies implement the Guiding Principles and mitigate human rights impacts. The conference addressed a variety of difficult issues facing businesses as they implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in their businesses and their supply chains. Discussions focused on human trafficking, conflict minerals, doing business in Myanmar, and more.
Agendas from the conferences hosted by TCCC to engage business on Human Rights issues:
- Addressing the Hard Issues: Myanmar, Human Trafficking, Conflict Minerals, Supply Chain, Guiding Principles Best Practice (2013)
- Addressing Human Trafficking in Labor Sourcing (2012)
- Implementing Respect for Human Rights (2011)
- Addressing Respect for Human Rights (2010)
- Addressing Child Labor (2009)
- Addressing Forced Labor (2008)
Addressing Child Labor
Our Human Rights Statement, Workplace 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 some of the farms that grow cane for our sugar suppliers, driven by poverty and local social norms. Our Company does not typically purchase ingredients directly from farms, nor are we owners of sugar farms or plantations, but as a major buyer of sugar, we are taking action and using our influence to help end child labor in sugarcane 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.
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.
- El Salvador Child Labor Case Study
- Reducing Child Labor and Forced Labor: A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses (Developed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs)
International Labor Organization (ILO)
Our Director of Global Workplace Rights serves as the head of the U.S. Employer Delegation to the ILO Conference each year in Geneva, Switzerland. The annual meeting brings together nearly 2,000 representatives from labor unions, employer associations and governments to negotiate and adopt international labor standards, which are then implemented by member states (countries). In 2005, he became the overall business spokesman for the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CACR), which holds countries accountable for implementing ratified international labor standards treaties. In June 2010 the CACR addressed 25 serious workplace rights violations in various industries around the world in cases ranging from the worst forms of child labor to freedom of association to forced labor. The CACR’s conclusions in each case place an international spotlight on serious human rights violations and bring the full force and effect of the ILO to bear on the situation. On an annual basis, for example, more than 500 illegally detained trade unionists regain their freedom as a result of intervention by the ILO. Our ongoing involvement with the ILO reaffirms the Company’s overarching commitment to human rights in the workplace. Learn more about the ILO.
Brand Collaboration: AIM Progress
Member companies recognize supplier audits completed on behalf of another company through a framework called mutual recognition. Recognizing audits conducted on behalf of another company reduces audit fatigue, reduces time and costs on the part of suppliers and shifts the focus from auditing to performance. Our work with AIM-PROGRESS has advanced our mutual audit recognition to 16 percent of the suppliers we audit.