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Home / case studies / Case study: How Evonik promotes and protects human rights

Case study: How Evonik promotes and protects human rights

Evonik is one of the world’s leading specialty chemicals companies, seeking to offer customers a wide range of solutions that contribute to the efficient use of resources and reduce their environmental impacts. Evonik looks at human rights at all stages in its value chain, including suppliers, its own processes, and customer applications.  Tweet This!

This case study is based on the 2018 Sustainability Report by Evonik published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Founded upon a firm commitment to safeguarding human rights, Evonik’s actions are based on the code of conduct for Evonik employees, its global social policy, and the executive board’s policy statement on human rights. In order to promote and protect human rights Evonik took action to:

  • implement a whistleblower system
  • provide human rights training
  • fight discrimination

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Evonik identified a range of material issues, such as more sustainable products/ solutions for customers, climate change and emissions into the air, efficient use of scarce resources/ circular economy, plant and occupational safety. Among these, promoting and protecting human rights stands out as a key material issue for Evonik.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process s of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Evonik engages with:   

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement (in 2018)
Customers

 

·      Talks with customers, reports, analyses

·      Stakeholder dialogue: “The two-degree goal—How industry can help meet climate targets”

·      Workshop: “FReSH Dietary Shifts Proteins”

·      Customer project: “Prevention of spreading antimicrobial resistance from livestock”

·      Customer project: “Socially and environmentally more sustainable pharma supply chain”

·      Meeting customers at trade events, e.g., Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients (CPhI)

Employees ·      Employee development reviews

·      Intranet, employee magazine

·      “Roundtable” discussions and networks

·      Internal social media platforms (“communities”)

·      Interactive careers website

·      Employee survey

Suppliers ·      Together for Sustainability (TfS) at the ABIQUIM

·      Sustainability Conference in São Paulo (Brazil)

·      Evonik and TfS support the Chemie pilot project

·      “Sustainability in the supply chain”

·      Supplier training in Shanghai

Shareholders

 

·      Annual shareholders’ meeting

·      Roadshows/conferences

Creditors

 

·      Talks with rating agencies

·      Talks with lenders

Legislators ·      Stakeholder dialogue “The Future of Europe”

·      Brainstorming workshop “Pathways to enhance cybersecurity in the EU”

Authorities ·      Stakeholder dialogue “The two-degree goal—How industry can help meet climate targets”

·      Brainstorming workshop “Pathways to enhance cybersecurity in the EU”

·      Talks with authorities

Local residents ·      Magazines for local residents

·      Environmental and neighborhood hotlines

·      Open days at twelve sites

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Evonik carried out a survey among internal and external stakeholders, who were asked to rate sustainability topics according to importance.

What actions were taken by Evonik to promote and protect human rights?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Evonik reports that it took the following actions for promoting and protecting human rights:

  • Implementing a whistleblower system
  • In fall 2017, Evonik introduced a new whistleblower system to supplement its established system for reporting compliance violations. This system is operated by an independent third party on behalf of Evonik, and guarantees the anonymity of the whistleblower. It enables employees and third parties (for example, local residents, suppliers, customers) to report suspected breaches of human rights. The Corporate Responsibility division examines all allegations. In 2018, no suspected breaches of human rights were reported.
  • Providing human rights training
  • In 2018 Evonik continued to develop its human rights risk map, which is used to compile and evaluate potential human rights risks such as child labour, modern slavery, and non-signature of the ILO (International Labour Organization) International Labour Standards. Building on this, Evonik designed, developed, and carried out training on human rights. More than ten human rights training courses were held for employees from Germany, Brazil, and India. The courses gave participants a basic overview of human rights, presented the relevant Evonik regulations, and showed how they relate to the applicable human rights and labour rights.
  • Fighting discrimination
  • Evonik’s code of conduct and global social policy forbid discrimination on the basis of origin, race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Employees who feel they have been discriminated against, have a right to lodge a complaint. Contacts for reporting cases of discrimination are available at all sites and information on complaints procedures is available to all employees, through internal media and personal discussions in all regions. Evonik has also introduced additional measures and activities to prevent discrimination, which reach over 90 percent of its workforce. Twelve cases of discrimination were reported in 2018 and, in each case, action was taken to clarify and remedy the situation.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 406-1 Incidents of discrimination and corrective actions taken

2) Disclosure 412-1 Operations that have been subject to human rights reviews or impact assessments

3) Disclosure 412-2 Employee training on human rights policies or procedures

 

Disclosure 406-1 Incidents of discrimination and corrective actions taken corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination

Disclosure 412-1 Operations that have been subject to human rights reviews or impact assessments does not correspond to any SDG.

Disclosure 412-2 Employee training on human rights policies or procedures does not correspond to any SDG.

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



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References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Evonik, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning.  If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Evonik: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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