Living by our principles

The core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people are reflected in our business principles and code of conduct, which strictly govern the way we work.

Shell employees in a meeting at the Qatar offices (photo)

All Shell employees and contract staff must follow our Code of Conduct.

Our Business Principles and Code of Conduct

The Shell General Business Principles detail our responsibilities to shareholders, customers, employees, business partners and society. They set the standards for the way we conduct business with honesty, integrity and respect for people, the environment and communities. We aim to do business fairly, ethically and in accordance with laws that promote and safeguard fair competition. We do not tolerate the direct or indirect offer, payment, solicitation or acceptance of bribes in any form, including facilitation payments.

All Shell companies and joint ventures that we operate must conduct their activities in line with our business principles. We also encourage joint ventures that we do not operate to apply materially equivalent business principles.

All Shell employees and contract staff must follow our Code of Conduct which describes the behaviour Shell expects of individuals. They are also required to complete Code of Conduct training and to confirm they understand their personal responsibilities under the code. We also require individuals working on Shell’s behalf, for example independent contractors or consultants, to act consistently with our Code as it applies to their work for Shell.

Employees, contract staff and contractor employees can report concerns about any potential breaches of the Code of Conduct confidentially and anonymously. This can be done through a variety of local channels, which are adapted to local regulations and customs, and one global channel, the Global Helpline, operated by an independent provider.  This helpline is also available to third parties such as customers, suppliers or agents, in the event they observe misconduct by Shell staff.

Concerns or allegations are investigated by specialists within Shell. If a violation is confirmed, we take appropriate action. This may involve serious consequences, up to and including dismissal or contract termination. We maintain a stringent no retaliation policy to protect any person making a good faith allegation.

In 2016, internal investigations confirmed that 341 allegations reported through the Global Helpline were Code of Conduct violations (217 in 2015). As a result, we dismissed or terminated the contracts of 114 employees, contract staff or contractor employees (89 in 2015).

Additional information about how our ethics and compliance programme equips and supports staff to understand and follow our business principles and code of conduct is available on

Business integrity in our supply chain

The Shell Supplier Principles, along with specific contractual clauses, set out our expectations for suppliers and contractors to act with integrity. Our risk-based due diligence processes assess prospective suppliers to determine whether they can meet our expectations. We engage regularly with suppliers to reinforce these principles, offer support to help them strengthen their own practices, if needed, and hold them accountable for their performance.

Human rights

We respect human rights; our approach applies to all our employees and contract staff. It is informed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the core conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Respect for human rights and provision of remedy are ways in which we uphold our business principles.

We consult with international organisations, companies, civil society and other relevant bodies to understand and respond to current and emerging human rights issues that are relevant to our business. We collaborate closely with the Danish Institute of Human Rights to assess and improve our approach to human rights. We participate in  - the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues - and through its working groups develop guidance and implementation tools to improve respect for human rights across the industry.

Our human rights approach focuses on four key areas:


We assess and manage the potential environmental, health and community impacts of our projects in line with international standards, such as the International Finance Corporation’s performance standards on environmental and social sustainability. Impact assessments are embedded in our project process from the identification and assessment phases through to operation, decommissioning and restoration.

Our community engagement mechanisms allow our neighbours to raise any concerns about the impacts of our activities and enable us to respond to those concerns through credible and effective non-judicial processes, informed by the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. When our operations are near indigenous peoples, we seek advice from our experts to identify any additional activities or measures that may be required to accommodate these communities.


We aim to keep employees, contract staff and facilities safe, while respecting the human rights and security of local communities. The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) are implemented across Shell operations where there is an identified threat and are included in our private security contracts and our engagements with public security forces. We conduct annual risk assessments in our relevant operations and provide training to employees and contract staff.

Labour rights

We respect the principles of freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, non-discrimination and equal opportunity, along with adequate work conditions, adequate remuneration and the elimination of forced or child labour. We respect the rights of our employees, contract staff and suppliers by working in alignment with ILO conventions and the UN Global Compact, an initiative that aims to encourage businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

Supply chain

We seek to work with contractors and suppliers who are committed to acting in an environmentally and socially responsible way. In line with our business principles, the Shell Supplier Principles include specific expectations for contractors and suppliers concerning labour and human rights.

the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues
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United Nations
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