In a world rocked by a raging global health crisis and worldwide protests for social justice, how retailers approach issues from race to health, the supply chain and climate change can have a significant impact on society.
To that end, global retailer Ahold Delhaize released this week its first annual Human Rights report, a 32-page document identifying what the Dutch retailer called six “salient human rights” that it will focus on as initial priorities as well as six additional relevant issues. The company also pledged to strengthen its governance to ensure human rights are fully embedded within its strategy and to support the company’s brands as they ensure that protection of human rights is an integral part of their business activities to be embedded into its strategic business plans.
“We have a big responsibility to set the right example and help dismantle structures that systematically disadvantage some and advantage others,” the report noted. Ahold Delhazie operates U.S. brands Hannaford, Stop & Shop, The Giant Co., Giant Food, Food Lion and Peapod.
The report dates to a human rights position the company first took in 2017 and due diligence assessing the company’s impacts underway since 2018, which arrived at six human rights priorities: health and safety; compensation; freedom of association; women’s rights; forced labor; and discrimination and harassment.
Additional issues also identified by the company are affordable healthy food; water and sanitation; working conditions; children’s rights; child labor; and privacy.
The report makes clear Ahold Delhaize sees there is progress to be made in its areas of focus, noting it still remained for the company to enact moves to strengthen governance, establish positions on some the issues identified as priorities and draft “roadmaps” for its local brands to address the salient issues for their own supply chains and operations.
“2020 is a historic year of unprecedented events arising from the COVID-19 outbreak and the worldwide protests in support of racial justice and equality. These events once again make us realize that, as a global retailer, we play a pivotal role in society,” Frans Muller, CEO of Ahold Delhaize, said in a release. “To this end, I am pleased to see we are making progress in our human rights policies, but we’re not there yet and more work needs to be done.
“Our commitment to respect human rights and address the many challenges related to that commitment cannot be fulfilled alone,” Muller added. “It requires collaboration and partnership both across the food chain and in our communities.”