People in our supply chains and surrounding communities

Respect for the working conditions and labour standards of the workers in our businesses’ supply chains is important to us. We also recognise the potential contribution we can make to surrounding communities. 


Human and labour rights in our supply chains

Our businesses use the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as a reference point to guide their activities in implementing human rights due diligence processes. The OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct and various sectoral guidance documents all provide valuable models and reference material

Our Group Supplier Code of Conduct is an essential requirement of the responsible business conduct of our businesses. This document is based on the core conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and on the Base Code of the Ethical Trading Initiative, of which Primark is a member. All businesses within the Group are responsible for managing their relationships with suppliers and satisfying themselves that suppliers operate in line with the principles contained in the Supplier Code of Conduct.

In their application of the Supplier Code of Conduct, our businesses continue to develop and improve human rights due diligence processes in their supply chains as laid out in the UNGPs. Knowledge of where potential negative human rights impacts might exist, combined with supply chain mapping, helps them to monitor and identify actual issues, to seek remedy or even to anticipate and prevent them before they arise, prioritising those that are most salient. Our devolved business model enables our businesses to take the most appropriate approach based on their specific supply chains and the nature of their supplier relationships. In many cases we find that suppliers have their own programmes that meet our expectations in this area, but where this is not the case our businesses seek to use their leverage or collaborate to drive change.

Our businesses use a number of data platforms to assess and monitor potential human rights risks. Many businesses monitor their risk through audits carried out by internal teams or third parties. For example, Primark’s Ethical Trade auditing and monitoring programme is one of Primark’s most important resources for identifying risks. Some businesses also engage workers and their representatives directly outside of the audit process to understand what issues they face.

Our businesses seek to use the leverage they may have with their suppliers to secure access to an effective remedy for workers facing negative human rights impacts in their supply chains. For example, in India, Primark’s Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability team has developed a comprehensive programme called the India Worker Empowerment Programme to address the root causes and manifestations of key human rights risks.

Our businesses have or are developing grievance mechanisms to give workers a voice on the issues they face in the workplace. Examples include ABF Sugar’s ‘We Listen, We Act, We Remedy’ toolkit. Primark has multiple approaches to achieve effective grievance mechanisms, these include the Amader Kotha programme in Bangladesh, where a hotline is available to workers in garment factories.

Different stakeholders including NGOs, trade unions, governments, other businesses (subject to relevant competition and anti-trust laws) and industry bodies inform our approach to human rights due diligence. We work with these organisations due to their expert knowledge and we acknowledge their contribution.

Transparency about who and where our businesses source from enhances our understanding of human rights risks and, where necessary, encourages collaboration to resolve issues both locally and across our sectors. Some of our businesses, including Primark, Twinings and ABF Sugar, publish global sourcing maps and provide information about their processes, progress and challenges through corporate reports, websites, stakeholder engagement activities and submissions to ESG benchmarks.

In line with our Group Supplier Code of Conduct, our businesses prohibit all forms of modern slavery, including forced labour and human trafficking. For more information, see our Group Modern Slavery Statement 2023. Alongside our Group statement, some of our businesses publish separate modern slavery statements.

Supporting communities

Alongside our work to respect human and labour rights, we aim to positively contribute to the communities in which we operate. For instance, Illovo recognises that its sugar estates are a key part of the communities they are located in, and this is reflected by its activities to support those communities, such as by providing clinics, schools and local services to support its employees and in some cases also to support their families and neighbouring communities.

For more information please see our Responsibility Report 2023.

Responsibility in action: our supply chains

Our material topics

We recognise the need to understand the ESG issues most relevant to our operations, our industries and our stakeholders.


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