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Human rights

We are committed to upholding human rights, which is why we became a signatory to the UN Global Compact back in 2005. We endeavor to prevent the risk of human rights violations as far as possible, not only at our own sites but also along our entire supply chain. That is why we integrate human rights due diligence into our business processes.

We view our human rights due diligence as a continuous process, which we constantly adapt and improve. This also prompts us to continually review our approach. We closely monitor regulatory developments – for example, the planned EU directive on human rights due diligence.

Roles and responsibilities

Our Executive Board has ultimate responsibility for human rights within our sphere of influence. The Executive Board exercises this responsibility by requiring our Managing Directors to respect human rights.

Our Group Corporate Sustainability unit is responsible for coordinating all human rights due diligence activities across the Group. The persons responsible for these issues in the respective Group functions, business sectors and local units implement the specific measures, for instance by integrating human rights due diligence into existing processes.

Our commitment: Guiding principles, charters and laws

Our Human Rights Charter aligns with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is our overarching human rights governance document and defines the relevant requirements for our company. We expect our employees as well as our suppliers and all companies with which we have business ties to comply with this charter.

In 2022, we further developed our existing approach to human rights due diligence, prompted by the specific requirements of the new German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act. Among other things, we appointed the Head of Corporate Sustainability, Quality and Trade Compliance as human rights officer to monitor compliance with human rights due diligence requirements and the implementation of processes throughout the Group in the future.

Identifying actual and potential impacts on human rights

We perform risk assessments to understand the potential impacts our operations and business relationships could have on human rights. For instance, we investigate human rights risks at our sites as well as risks related to product and service sourcing. These risk assessments enable us to derive the corresponding strategies and measures. We track human rights risks through our strategic supplier risk process. More information on how we engage with suppliers can be found under Responsible supply chain.

We also meet our human rights due diligence obligations when deploying new technologies. Our Code of Digital Ethics defines digital ethics principles and forms the basis for the work of the Digital Ethics Advisory Panel. More information can be found under Digital ethics.

Auditing our suppliers and sites

Our Global Social and Labor Standards Policy stipulates the social and labor standards at our sites. We regularly check compliance with the requirements using a risk-based approach. Among other things, this takes into account risks that may arise if relevant laws and regulations change or if there are violations of internationally recognized labor rights by governments and companies, as assessed by the International Trade Union Confederation and documented in the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. If we identify a violation during the audit, we define remedial actions together with the responsible Managing Director and/or local HR staff.

In addition, we review human rights aspects at our sites through security audits. The audits are one control mechanism of our security governance framework. Increased risk transparency and centralized CAPA tracking allows us to ensure that our sites meet security-relevant human rights aspects.

Through the Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative, we determine whether our strategically important suppliers comply with human rights standards.

Creating awareness among our employees

To train our Managing Directors and senior management, we offer an e-learning course on implementing the requirements of our Social and Labor Standards Policy in their areas of responsibility. Our onboarding training for all new EHS managers continues to cover the topic of human rights, with a particular focus on the issue of modern slavery. In addition, the Supervisory Board received training on the requirements and implementation of the new German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act in 2022.

Our reporting practices

We inform the public about our approaches, measures and results of human rights due diligence. We provide information on this annually in our Sustainability Report. Additionally, legislation in Australia and the United Kingdom requires us to publish the steps we are taking to counter forced labor and human trafficking. Apart from the UK Modern Slavery Statement, we also published our first Australia Modern Slavery Statement in 2022. Both have been signed by the Chair of the Executive Board and published on our website.

Our complaint mechanism

Our compliance hotline is the most important channel for reporting complaints about potential human rights violations. Our employees as well as external stakeholders can report suspected cases via this Group-wide whistleblowing system in their respective national language, free of charge and anonymously, either by telephone or a web-based application. We thoroughly investigate all complaints that we receive and take countermeasures if necessary. More information on the compliance hotline can be found under Compliance management.

In 2022, there were no indications from our compliance hotline of child or forced labor or violations of the right to collective bargaining or freedom of association within our own global business operations. Regarding forced labor, we were informed that we offered rubber gloves for which a manufacturer is accused of labor abuses including forced labor in Malaysia. The matter is being investigated further. Our supplier has already terminated business relations with the manufacturer. Consequently, our company also no longer has any business ties to the manufacturer in the affected supply chain.

Human rights violations1










Number of reported violations of Social and Labor Standards Policy









Number of confirmed Violations of Social and Labor Standards Policy









thereof: number of incidents of discrimination










In 2020, we modified our reporting structure for human rights violations. Previously, we reported on such violations in the “Reported compliance violations” table. Since 2020, we report on violations of our Social and Labor Standards Policy, which was implemented across the entire Group in 2019.


Due to our revised reporting practices, we have decided not to report the data from previous years.

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