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Human rights

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

We focus our efforts on four key areas, where respect for human rights is critical to the way we operate and where we have identified the highest risk of potential impact on human rights. These four key areas are the workplace, communities, supply chains and security. In 2022, we continued to take steps to improve our approach to human rights.

We expect joint ventures not operated by Shell to apply standards and principles substantially equivalent to our own. 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 2022, supported by an external advisor, we developed recommendations to further improve our approach to human rights. We do this, for example, by expanding the disclosure of our human rights due diligence strategy and salient issues, seeking opportunities to expand the scope of contracting and procurement human-rights-related controls in our supply chain beyond Tier-1 suppliers, and opportunities for a more integrated approach to human rights due diligence.

In 2021, we launched an updated human rights training course and by the end of 2022, about 460 Shell staff had completed the course and the roll-out is expected to continue through 2023. The course is mandatory for selected staff working in higher-risk focus areas, 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 with experts from different functions, including an external adviser, guides Shell businesses on best practice when implementing and reviewing our approach to human rights. In 2022, a committee composed of senior executives, chaired by the Director of Strategy, Sustainability and Corporate Relations, supported the work of the Human Rights Working Group.

Shell Supplier Principles

Human rights due diligence is particularly relevant when it comes to our supply chains. For example, we engage with suppliers who may be at risk of having issues with labour rights to assess their management systems before deciding whether to award a contract. If we are dissatisfied with the results of supplier assessments, we may work with suppliers 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 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 suppliers, including contractors. Shell companies use a joint industry supplier capability assessment that is delivered in collaboration with other operators. This is intended to support the improvement of working conditions in the participating companies’ supply chains.

Shell’s salient human rights issues

Salient human rights are those that are most at risk from a company’s operations. We focus on four areas where respect for human rights is particularly critical to the way we operate and where we have identified the highest risk of potential impacts on human rights.

In 2022, we completed a review of our salient human rights issues with the support of an external advisor, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). As a result, we have grouped Shell’s salient human rights issues into the focus areas, reflected in the table alongside.

The exercise of reassessing and identifying our current most salient issues is part of our continued effort to ensure our human rights approach is effective and fit for purpose. As our business evolves, our salient issues profile might change. We will continue to assess risks and adapt our approach as required.

  • Human rights focus areas
  • Salient issues

At the workplace

  • Health and safety
  • Discrimination
  • Decent living conditions in workers’ accommodation
  • Access to adequate and readily available channels to voice concerns

In supply chains

  • Labour rights in our supply chains, e.g. prevention of forced labour, access to remedy
  • Safe and healthy working conditions
  • Decent living conditions in worker accommodation

In communities

  • Social impact management
  • Vulnerable persons/communities
  • Land access, livelihoods, and cultural heritage
  • Engagement and access to remedy

In security

  • Human rights impact on communities by private security and/or government security forces we rely on
  • Security of employee and contract staff in high-risk environments where we work

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