We are committed to respecting and fostering human rights along the entire value chain and to reporting transparently on the results of our activities. Learn more about our commitments below.
Human rights are the basis for a life with dignity.
Bayer is a founding member of the UN Global Compact and respects the Universal Declaration of human rights and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations. We also support the “Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy” of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the latter’s core labor standards. Our human rights due diligence approach is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
The implementation of human rights due diligence is a continuous process that must be constantly adapted and improved. In addition to identifying, assessing and addressing potential and actual human rights risks and violations, we also strive to contribute positively towards human rights. This commitment is anchored in our human rights strategy.
We have defined clear sustainability goals that make an important contribution to promoting self-determined living and thus exerts a positive influence on human rights. This is achieved not only by reducing our ecological footprint, but also by giving many people in underserved regions broader access to health care and nutrition.
With our Human Rights Policy, we define the requirements within the company. The policy obligates us to respect and foster human rights within our own business activities and in business relations. This applies to all Bayer employees worldwide and the entire value chain, such as our suppliers, business partners, customers, consumers and local communities alike.
We established a solid governance and further developed our human rights strategy and established a new human rights policy with associated policies.
Our human rights strategy comprises of three interlinking phases
Definition of the framework: derivation of the human rights strategy based on an analysis of the status and risks in accordance with the UNGPs and OECD Guidelines, our vision “Health for all, hunger for none” and the legal requirements such as those stemming from the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (SCDDA)
Operationalization and full integration: expansion of existing due diligence processes to address human rights risks
Strategic positive contribution: support for the protection of human rights in areas that concern our business
Our Human Rights Governance
The Chairman of the Bayer Board of Management is responsible for sustainability and human rights at Bayer. In his role as Chief Sustainability Officer, he is supported in the topic of human rights by the Public Affairs, Science, Sustainability & HSE (SSHE) Enabling Function.
In October 2022, the Board of Management introduced the position of Human Rights Officer, who will oversee risk management regarding human rights and inform the Board of Management of the ongoing work.
At the beginning of 2023, two experts in the area of “human rights” and “health equity”, Dante Pesce and Agnes Binagwaho, joined Bayer’s Sustainability Council which advises the Board of Management of Bayer AG and other functions within the company on all sustainability matters. With the new members, our commitment to human rights is now also strengthened in the composition of the Sustainability Council.
“Acknowledgment of business impacts and management of its human rights risks are core elements for having trust in a company and are fundamental for its own legitimacy and sustainability. Guided by the accepted international standards, such as the OECD Due Diligence guidelines and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the clear commitment from the highest level of its governance, the transformation of a company like Bayer has the potential to succeed. Its massive reach and its scientific capacity makes Bayer a perfect case for becoming a global player in finding solutions for societal challenges. I am happy to be involved in this process,” emphasizes Dante Pesce.
We implement measures to ensure respect for human rights both within our own company and along our entire value chain. Group regulations, processes, and management and monitoring systems regulate the implementation of human rights standards.
To enhance our employees’ awareness of the importance of human rights in their day-to-day activities, we offer numerous ongoing training programs. This includes a basic training course entitled “Respecting Human Rights at Bayer” to further anchor awareness about and respect for human rights throughout the Bayer Group. The training course is available to all employees in nine languages (English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish).
We are aware that the implementation of human rights due diligence is a continuous process that must be constantly adapted and improved. To ensure respect for human rights in the value chain in a targeted manner, Bayer operates according to a due diligence approach that is based on the UNGPs and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
This process comprises a declaration of principles, risk identification and assessment processes, prevention and mitigation measures, measures for determining effectiveness and reporting, along with access to grievance mechanisms and the implementation of remedial measures.
Our commitment to human rights is documented in a globally binding human rights policy that was approved directly by the Board of Management and is publicly available on our website. This Group regulation is regularly reviewed. The current revision takes into account the results of the Group-wide risk analysis completed in 2022 for which civil society organizations and internal experts were consulted, along with the requirements of the German SCDDA. In addition, external business and human rights experts were involved in preparing the policy statement.
To determine potentially adverse impacts of our operations on human rights, we use our Group-wide integrated risk management system. The Bayer Risk Portfolio is regularly reviewed and updated. Learn more about the Group-wide identification and assessment of our human rights risks, completed in 2022, in our sustainability report.
We report in detail on our human rights due diligence measures for our workforce, suppliers, customers, consumers and local communities.
Observing human rights is interdisciplinary and covers wide-ranging areas of responsibility and processes at Bayer. We report in more detail on our due diligence approach with respect to human rights in the relevant chapters of our Sustainability Report and in the following sections.
Our Human Rights Policy, our LIFE values as well as our corporate policies on Corporate Compliance and on Fairness and Respect at Work guide all employees worldwide to conduct themselves fairly and in a compliant manner in dealings with colleagues, business partners and members of the community.
The right to a healthy and safe workplace is a priority for us at Bayer. We ensure that our health, safety and environmental requirements remain high and applied worldwide. Read more here.
Bayer compensates employees on both permanent and temporary employment contracts in excess of the statutory minimum wage in the respective countries, paying a living wage that is annually reviewed and specified worldwide by the nonprofit organization Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). That makes Bayer one of the first companies to commit globally to this concept. This also applies to part-time employees whose compensation was proportionately aligned with that of a full-time position.
Protecting the environment and ensuring the safety of our employees and the people who live near our sites are among our highest priorities. We work continuously to reduce the environmental impact of our business activities and develop product solutions that benefit the environment. Bayer focuses on taking consistent precautions – to ensure safety in day-to-day work, in the operation of production facilities, and on work-related travel and transportation routes.
For us, product stewardship means both that our products meet the highest quality standards and that they are safe for people, animals and the environment when properly used. We have put in place suitable directives and management systems to meet our product stewardship responsibility in regard to human rights. For more information, click here.
In regard to the topic of human rights, we are focusing especially on our supply chain because this connects us with several million rightsholders – in other words people who are directly or indirectly impacted by our activities. We report in more detail in Chapter 5.3 of our Sustainability Report or here.
We continually work with our suppliers and expect them to fully observe and respect human rights in their operations. Our expectations are demonstrated through our Supplier Code of Conduct. The Supplier Code of Conduct is based on our Human Rights Policy, the principles of the UN Global Compact and the core labor standards of the ILO. It includes child labor, forced labor and any other form of modern slavery, freedom of association, working time and wages, harassment & discrimination, use of security forces.
Challenges in Seed Supply Chain
The risk of human rights violations poses a particular challenge for Bayer in the seed supply chain. In 2022, we began to deal in detail with human rights risks along our global seed supply chain and to improve our risk prevention and mitigation measures. One particular focus is on child labor.
Our position on child labor is clear – it is not tolerated at Bayer. We therefore obligate our suppliers to refrain from employing children. Through our Child Care Program, Bayer has for years taken systematic action to prevent child labor in the seed supply chain. The program is established in India, Bangladesh and the Philippines – the countries in which we identified the risk of child labor infractions.
Through our Child Care Program, we raise awareness about this problem among our suppliers and clearly communicate our requirements. It involves systematic and repeated inspections of individual seed producers in their fields by local Bayer employees during the growing season. In 2021/22, we did not identify any cases of child labor in India, Bangladesh or the Philippines. We report in more detail in Chapter 5.3 of our Sustainability Report.
Challenges in the Raw Materials Extraction
Risks of Human Rights violations are often associated with extraction of raw materials as the procurement of minerals originating from unstable regions of the world can contribute to the financing of conflicts and the violation of human rights. We work to ensure that so-called conflict materials are procured responsibly.
As such, additional verification processes were established for the fulfillment of further international regulations such as those requesting companies to disclose the origin of certain raw materials. The explicit expectations of our suppliers are spelled out in our Supplier Code of Conduct. Suppliers who do not meet these requirements are immediately notified that these standards must be complied with and suitable measures initiated.
Bayer’s net-zero deforestation as well as the human rights commitment along the value chain includes the ambition to source sustainable palm (kernel) oil and soy derivatives. Bayer believes in sustainable value chains with the focus on sustainable production, transparency, traceability and certification. Our activities are aligned with the elements of the Accountability Framework. We collaborate with our partners and suppliers to further decrease our environmental footprint and set social and ethical standards.
Find further details on the programs of conflict minerals as well as sustainable palm, sustainable soy, other plant-based materials here.
In a specialist group established in 2022 under the auspices of the Chemie³ initiative, furthermore, we participate in the development of an industry standard for sustainable value creation for the chemical and pharmaceutical sector that is designed to help companies implement human rights due diligence. At the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit, we joined the Coalition of Action on Living Incomes and Decent Work and are supporting this initiative.
Continuously raising awareness about human rights the agriculture sector requires extensive measures and the involvement of various stakeholders. Against this background, Bayer joined with other seed companies back in 2019 to establish the Enabling Child and Human Rights with Seed Organizations (ECHO) initiative. ECHO is one of the biggest multi-stakeholder forums for the promotion of children’s rights and decent work – which includes fair wages as well as healthy and safe working conditions.