In a social media world of increasing transparency, the expectations of companies to address their human rights impacts have increased substantially. For the past decade, it has been my job at The Coca-Cola Company to make sure that we have the right policies, day-to-day practices, and tools in place to identify, prevent, and mitigate human rights impacts, where they exist, within the Coca-Cola business system and supply chain.  

Over the past several years, we have developed a number of human rights due diligence tools that help us identify potential rights risk. Building on our due diligence approach in Myanmar in 2012  we now take an expanded and more in-depth, country-based approach to human rights due diligence that allows us to better understand whether we are having a human rights impact in our supply chain on child labor, forced labor and land rights. These third-party human rights due diligence studies are based on research, local stakeholder engagement and field observation, and allow us to focus on specific risk issues, geography and commodity. The result: an identification of issues, if any, underlying gaps that require resources, stakeholder engagement  and capacity building to mitigate potential or existing human rights impact.

Today, we are publishing our first two country-based, human rights due diligence studies focused on Coca-Cola’s sugar supply chain in Colombia and Guatemala. These studies, which incorporate input from a multi-stakeholder meeting we held last October in Atlanta, are living documents. They will continue to evolve as we receive further stakeholder comments on the improvements in the human rights due diligence process and on the substance of these due diligence reports.  

We welcome the ongoing input of stakeholders, including most recently the American Federation of Teachers, who will provide input into our human rights due diligence studies on issues related to child labor. We are currently conducting human rights due diligence in several other countries, including Brazil, El Salvador, and Honduras, and expect to publish some additional reports by the end of 2015 and in 2016.

This is an ongoing, evolving process and I have no doubt that The Coca-Cola Company will continue to dedicate the time, resources and energy required to improve and strengthen its human rights processes and live up to its human rights aspirations.

Ed Potter is director of global workplace rights at The Coca-Cola Company.