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Human rights

Human rights are fundamental to Shell’s core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people. Respect for human rights is embedded in the Shell General Business Principles and our Code of Conduct. Our approach is informed by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We work closely with other companies and organisations to improve how we apply these UN guiding principles. We focus on four priority areas where respect for human rights is critical to how we operate: communities, security, labour rights, and supply chain. For each of these areas, we have systems to identify potential impacts and to avoid and mitigate them. For example, Shell’s HSSE & SP Control Framework contains mandatory standards and manuals that set out how we identify, assess, and manage our impacts on communities where we operate, including any impact on human rights. Our joint-venture partners are expected to implement our control framework or an equivalent.

The Shell Supplier Principles outline how we expect our contractors and suppliers to respect the human rights of their workforce, and to manage the social impacts of their activities on Shell’s neighbouring communities.

In 2021, we published Shell’s Approach to Human Rights, which increases transparency by providing our staff and external stakeholders with important information about our approach and commitment to human rights. The publication includes Shell’s position on respecting and promoting worker welfare. It also contains information on how we provide access to remedy.

In 2021, we launched an updated human rights training course which is mandatory for staff working in areas with the greatest risk of infringement, such as social performance, human resources, and contracting. We encourage all staff to do the course, regardless of their role, to build greater understanding of human rights across Shell.

An internal Human Rights Working Group consisting of experts from different functions guides Shell businesses on the best ways to implement and review our approach to human rights. The group includes an external adviser to provide an outside view and help us to improve our approach. A steering committee composed of senior executives supports the work of the Human Rights Working Group.

Our approach to due diligence is informed by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and is supported by experts working in our focus areas procurement, social performance, human resources, and security. Due diligence helps us to act on our commitment to respect human rights. For example, in our supply chains, where contractors and suppliers are considered to be at risk of having issues with labour rights, we engage with them to assess their management systems, before deciding whether to award a contract. Results of these supplier assessments are evaluated, and where gaps are found, we may work with suppliers and contractors to help them implement corrective actions. We may also conduct on-site audits or consider terminating contracts if serious or persistent shortcomings are found.

The most common shortcomings found during our supplier assessments typically relate to policy gaps rather than performance in the following areas:

  • freely chosen employment;
  • avoiding child labour;
  • working hours, wages and benefits;
  • dormitory, housing and working conditions;
  • equal opportunities and freedom of association; and
  • supply chain and performance management.

The Shell Supplier Principles include specific labour and human rights expectations for contractors and suppliers. Shell companies use a joint industry supplier capability assessment that is delivered in collaboration with other operators. This sharing mechanism is intended to support the improvement of working conditions in the participating companies’ supply chains.

See our website for more information about our approach to human rights.

health, safety, security and environment
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