We treat all humans right
METRO’s business is a people’s business and we value each and every person working with and for us as our most precious resource. Therefore, METRO stands strong for ensuring Human Rights within its own operations and its own supply chain, empowered through trustful partnerships with relevant stakeholders. We firmly believe that business success can only be sustained in line with respect for Human Rights and environmental concerns as anchored in METROs Declaration of Values. Acting responsibly with an awareness of the future and the impact of our business on society and the environment, and thus in reverse also the societal and environmental impact on our business, are essential for METRO. This is also how we contribute to the UN SDGs .
Our overarching Declaration of Values demonstrates our conviction of respect for internationally recognized human rights and environmental concerns within our own operations and throughout our own supply chain.
Our corporate social and environmental responsibility is deeply rooted in our own operations, and also unfolds in our own supply chain. Please find more information about our approach, especially with regards to the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act.
Since we have the greatest impact on our own brands, this is also where we set the most ambitious goals.
Declaration of Values
Our comprehensive understanding of human rights and environmental concerns is reflected in our commitment to ensure that internationally recognized human rights and environmental standards are respected within our own operations as well as throughout our own supply chain. We are dedicated to respecting all human rights as set out in the International Human Rights Charter including the relevant rights from the UN Civil and Social Covenants, Core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their implementation through the German National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) and the Principles of the UN Global Compact. This commitment applies both to our own employees and to our business partners within our own supply chain.
An attitude with similar values is also important to us on the side of our business partners. Our goal is to identify and prevent human rights violations in our own business operations as well as in our supply chain, and we strive to systematically improve working conditions.
This commitment is anchored in our company in various contexts, e.g.:
- In the internal group guideline on human rights and environmental concerns in our own operations, including instructions for action, in order to ensure that our values are firmly incorporated within METRO. This is the only way to guarantee that our values on human rights are effectively embedded in our day-to-day business and that appropriate risk management can take effect.
- In addition, we follow our Social Compliance Policy for Own Brands to anchor social compliance systems in the essential components of the procurement processes.
- As an international company, we are aware of our responsibilities beyond our own business and have therefore formulated our Business Principles and a Code of Conduct for Business Partners, which are essential for our business relationships.
In order to strengthen the effectiveness of our approach and to radiate efficiently into our own supply chain, METRO works with partners from the supply chain and other companies. One example is our cooperation in the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Human Rights Coalition of Action, which particularly aims to combat forced labour in our industry. There, NGOs, government agencies and other important stakeholders join forces to take a holistic view of the challenges and thus improve the situation.
Supply Chain Due Diligence Act
Since 1 January 2023, the German Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains (Supply Chain Act, or LkSG) regulates the responsibility of companies to prevent, mitigate and/or stop human rights and environmental violations along the supply chain, hence with direct and - incident related - also indirect suppliers and in their own business operations.
Accordingly, companies are obliged to fulfill human rights and certain environmental due diligence obligations in their own business operations and in the supply chain in an appropriate manner. The obligations to be complied with depend on the company's specific sphere of influence.
Overview of legal aspects
Our responsibility along the supply chain
Respecting human rights and environmental concerns is not only a matter of concern to us within our own company. Instead, our responsibility and our understanding of how to make a positive contribution in this regard also extends to our business relationships. We have developed a robust Social Compliance Risk Management System that reflects our values as stated in our overarching Declaration of Values and translates the management approach into concrete process steps. Our Declaration of values serves as a basis for the actions of our employees, business partners and other stakeholders.
Code of Conduct for business partners
As an international wholesale company, METRO works with a large number of suppliers, producers and manufacturers. Through its actions, METRO can make a contribution to the sustainability of the environment, society and the company. Our goal is to improve human rights in global supply chains.
METRO has consolidated its values, expectations and obligations deriving out of this overarching goal in its Code of Conduct for Business Partners. This Code of Conduct is based on the International Convention on Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN standards and ILO core labour standards as well as provisions on environmental protection and business ethics, with a special focus on anti-corruption and anti-bribery, antitrust and competition law as well as data protection.
By including a social compliance clause in all our own-brand contracts and framework agreements for brand suppliers, we also have the legal means to enforce our requirements in case of doubt.
Risk Analysis of METROs business partners
Core piece of METROs Social Compliance Risk Management is the risk analysis carried out according to the requirements of the Supply Chain Act hence the risks specified in the Supply Chain Act are considered and assessed along the supply chain. We will conduct an annual and event-related risk analysis and will regularly update our policy statement accordingly.
Preventive and Remedial Measures
In addition to risk analysis, METRO has also integrated preventive measures into its social compliance risk management. These preventive measures include, e.g. employee and supplier training, adjustments to contracts and policy documents, and implementation of our social compliance risk management in the relevant business processes. In case of violations, METRO will engage into remedial measures to stop and/or minimize the extent of them. All measures taken and/or planned follow the overarching concept of appropriateness and effectiveness as a core principle of the German Supply Chain Act.
Any suspicion of a violation of human rights or environmental concerns within METRO and in its supply chain can be reported confidentially and anonymously via this complaints procedure by both (company) employees and third parties.
Stricter requirements for own brands
Fair and socially equitable working conditions in the value chain
As an international wholesale business, METRO works with a large number of suppliers, growers and producers. The greatest potential impact for implementing and securing socially responsible working conditions within our procurement channels lies in our own-brand range.
Of course, we also expect human rights-compliant procurement mechanisms from the manufacturers of our branded products as set out in our Code of Conduct for Business Partners, but we set ourselves particularly ambitious goals for our own brands. Our objective is to ensure socially equitable working conditions throughout our own-brand procurement channels until 2030. That is why the implementation of social compliance systems is an essential part of our purchasing process, as laid down in our Social Compliance Policy. This policy applies to all own-brand producers of METROs common sourcing entities, METRO SOURCING International (MSI) and METRO Food Sourcing (MFS) as well as local sourcing suppliers and producers of any other METRO entity.
Systematic audits and clear principles
METRO runs a regular risk assessment for its own-brand suppliers and its respective suppliers in order to assess their social compliance risk status. This risk status derives out of information from the amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (amfori BSCI)1 collected risk country list or we apply a certain high-risk status for particular producers, e.g. from information of the Sedex Risk Assessment Radar2 with regard to possible human rights violations.
Subsequently, we require those “risky” own-brand producers to be audited according to amfori BSCI supply chain management standard, the SMETA audit of Sedex or a METRO accepted equivalent social standard system.
1 A list of risk countries is compiled by amfori BSCI. The classification as a risk country is based on the following criteria:
- Experience of local purchasing companies
- Human Development Index of the United Nations
- Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International
2 The Sedex Risk Assessment Radar focuses in particular on the rights of workers and local communities, with an explicit focus on vulnerable groups such as women, children and young workers, migrants or seasonal and temporary workers. The risk assessment considers common fundamental labour rights, among others forced labour, child labour, discrimination and occupational health and safety issues.
For many years, we have been working on this process with our non-food producers. Since 1 June 2019, the same process was established analogously for all food and near-food producers in the own-brand sector. Effective 1 January 2019, non-food producers who fail the audit can only be commissioned as METRO contracting parties if they achieve an acceptable audit result (A, B or C for the amfori BSCI assessment or an audit that is acknowledged as equivalent). Until further notice, all food/near-food suppliers with amfori BSCI D (and in exceptional cases also E) audit results (and corresponding equivalents of other standards recognised by METRO) can also be commissioned by METRO. This procedure realistically reflects the challenging way of re-integrating suppliers into the process and gradually working towards ensuring socially acceptable (working) conditions.
After conducting an audit, the assessed party – in collaboration with involved other parties – starts working on the areas of improvement from their audit reports and start mitigating the same. Follow up sessions, e.g. desk research or follow up audits (full or partially) track the development of the assessed party. Such corrective action (plans) are generally available for any audit report regardless of the audit result. Hence, from our FY 2021/22 reported audited producers all 515 non-food and 95 food-/near-food producers have recommendations at hand to mitigate their improvement areas.
Since 2013 METRO is also signatory of a multi-stakeholder initiative, the International Accord (on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh) in order to contribute to the health and safety of particularly the textile industry workers in Bangladesh. Amongst other activities, the initiative runs independent safety inspections, remediation programs and offers safety training programs. Compared to the Accord producers average on closing the findings from Accord-audits during the year 2022, METROs producers average progress rate of 96% is slightly higher.
Part of our process is our so-called deal-breaker process that specifically assesses the aspects of child labour, forced labour, occupational safety with regards to fire prevention and particular unethical behaviour. The deal-breaker process ensures that suppliers and their producers who identify a deal-breaker develop short-term and long-term solutions to remedy the critical findings. To make sure our suppliers and producers comply with these requirements, orders which are already in production may be completed, but new orders or follow-up orders will be stalled until the findings of the deal-breaker process have been rectified.
In order to contribute not only to claiming and imposing, but to actually improving social demands on suppliers, we conduct training sessions for our own employees on Human Rights Due Diligence. The objective is to train them to identify potential and/or actual Human Rights incidents, to respond appropriately and to prevent them.
Our import companies METRO SOURCING International and METRO Food Sourcing as well as our local entity METRO Turkey work with their local producers for years accompanying them through training sessions designed to help them understand and comply with social standards.
Our responsibility towards our employees
METRO’s business is a people’s business and we value each and every person working with and for us as our most precious resource. Therefore, METRO stands strong for ensuring Human Rights especially within its own operations.
The objective is to establish and ensure a culture of safe and fair working conditions for our employees, where diversity, equity and inclusion, the well-being, development and promotion of employees as well as a thorough OHS management are key prerequisites in contributing to the growth of our company. Furthermore, compliance with employee rights and all regulations of relevant laws, collective bargaining agreements and works agreements is a matter of course for METRO.
Corporate Guideline on Human Rights and Environmental Concerns
In its Declaration of Values, METRO has committed to respecting human rights and environmental concerns. Accordingly, METRO has developed an (internal) Corporate Guideline on Human Rights and Environmental Concerns that constitutes the operational implementation of this Declaration of Values. It serves to formally anchor the human rights and environmental concerns as stated in the German Supply Chain Act in all METRO companies, their effective implementation and establishment of a corresponding social compliance risk management.
By means of a successful social compliance risk management, embedded in all relevant business processes, also entering into a dialogue with our colleagues and promoting the knowledge sharing is one way to efficiently learn from one another, not only with regard to working conditions but also in terms of dialogue with employee representatives.
An important tool in this context is the employee survey conducted 4 times a year in order to obtain open feedback on the company's own performance as an employer and to be able to improve employee concerns.
To ensure the transnational social involvement of the employees and safeguard their right to collective labour wage agreements and organizing in unions, the Euro Forum performs the function of the European works council of METRO. In addition, METRO collaborates with the international union umbrella organization UNI Global Union.
Occupational Health and safety – it’s always safety first
METRO is aware of the operational safety risks that arise from doing business and that have an impact on our employees, contractors, customers and properties. Therefore, METRO aims to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for our employees, contractors and customers and has made safety management a core element of its business operations. It must be incorporated into every aspect of our work. This allows METRO to continue to develop as a leading, sustainable company while maintaining an awareness of operational safety. METRO has built a corporate culture that focuses on safety through operational safety management and occupational health. Compliance with international standards for occupational health and safety strengthens the trust of employees, suppliers and customers. This helps protect METRO from potential risks and avoid adverse effects on employees, suppliers and customers. This is reflected in our occupational safety and health (OHS) strategy which provides transparency for improvement opportunities and highlights key OHS issues. Our organisational structure supports us in implementing our occupational safety and health activities. This is how we aim to achieve the highest level of safety performance and meet all local and international standards.
Our objective is to proactively manage identifiable risks and prevent injuries to employees, contractors and customers and damage to equipment.
With our group-wide Operational Safety Management System (OSMS), we structure the safety environment in accordance with the requirements of ISO 45001 "Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems".
In parallel, we are building and expanding on our ISO 45001 certification programme – see below the example from Ukraine.
The OSMS manages and controls the interlinked processes of the various business activities so that METRO can fulfil its security relevant obligations as an operator. It fully incorporates occupational health and safety obligations. The OSMS represents the integration of system safety, human factors and business management. Thus, we will continuously examine our operations for potential risks and hazards, improve existing measures and establish new measures to minimise them to an acceptable level. The procedures for identifying hazards, assessing risks and investigating incidents (403-2a) are set out in the OSMS policy and manual.
The success of the implementation of the OSMS depends on the involvement of staff. The company ensures that staff at all levels are trained (403-5) and encouraged to report hazardous situations so that preventive action can be taken and corrective action initiated - without the threat of dismissal, disciplinary action or other reprisals. A quick guide for reporting hazards has been developed. METRO has whistleblower protection to protect employees from reprisals. In addition, each store has a work stoppage procedure (SWA) that empowers and enables employees to stop an action or condition they deem unsafe (403-2c). There are four phases to dealing with an incident (403-2d).
The ultimate responsibility for safety in the company lies with the Executive Board. However, through various initiatives, we are working to raise awareness among employees that each individual bears responsibility for occupational safety. Thus, we have further strengthened our performance in the area of occupational safety and are well on our way towards a robust safety culture. It is up to the company to decide how best to ensure effective consultation and employee involvement and whether it needs to establish formal mechanisms such as safety committees (403-4a and 403-4b).
See below a short version of the OSMS with the key points it covers.
In the event of violations of our fundamental principles on human rights or environmental concerns, as well as any other professional compliance issue, our employees can contact their superiors or the company's compliance officers. Additionally, our whistleblower system offers all employees, business partners, suppliers and their employees and stakeholders and all other third parties in a professional context a confidential and anonymous platform for enquiries and/or notifications on compliance related matters.
To the METRO Whistleblowing System (secure, external website):
Or visit the Complaince Programme page for more information on the Rules of Procedure, the Complaince Contact and the Audit Report.
It is important for us that our suppliers also provide for a complaint mechanism.
Reported incidents that affect our company are promptly investigated and processed by our experts in order to take appropriate measures if necessary. In doing so, we are committed to working both internally and in collaboration with our suppliers to address the impact of grievances together with initiatives and stakeholders and not to hinder access to other remedies.