Respect for others is one of the 4 principles on which ENGIE's ethics and compliance policies are based. The Group’s Human Rights approach provides a framework for implementing the principle of "respecting others" and brings together all of ENGIE's commitments in the area of human rights.
Preventing and managing human rights risks
It constitutes the foundation on which the pillars of the Group's overall approach are based, a foundation that includes the United Nations' guiding principles on business and human rights (UN, 2011) and recalls the Group's various policies, all of which contribute to respecting its human rights commitments.
ENGIE is committed to conducting its business in a manner that respects internationally recognised human rights wherever the Group operates, including in all its dealings with public authorities. The Group's commitments are based on the risks of human rights violations potentially caused by the Group's activities (either direct activities or through its business relationships).
The Group's commitments are based on the mapping of human rights issues updated in 2018 as part of the Group's vigilance plan.
The major risks of negative impacts on the human rights of any individual related to the Group's activities concern the fundamental rights of workers. They address the following risks:
In 2020, six Business Units were assessed as being at risk with regard to human rights, due to the countries concerned or the activity sector. The risks identified are the subject of specific action plans at operational level.
Assessment of subsidiaries
Self-assessment and risk analysis tools are deployed annually for all Business Units. The entities participate in INCOME COR4 (internal human rights control) and ERM analyses to assess the risks.
In particular, all entities must annually assess their activities with regard to their impact on human rights using a dedicated self-diagnostic grid as part of the overall risk management policy (ERM process). These assessments make it possible in particular to identify the risks specific to each of the Group's entities: (1) the risk factors intrinsic to the entity's specific activities and (2) the strengths and weaknesses in the consideration of human rights within the entities' processes/policies/practices, and (3) consequently, the action plans to be put in place in light of the elements identified. This tool covers all the Group's human rights commitments.
The risk assessment is updated at least once a year and the Business Unit's risk prevention plan is updated accordingly. These elements are also discussed with the European Works Council and the Ethics, Environment and Sustainable Development Committee.
In 2020, the dedicated self-diagnosis grid allowing entities to assess their activities annually with regard to their impact on human rights covered 100% of the Business Units.
In 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the APAC BU faced a large increase in the migrant worker population in Singapore. The Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia are the other countries most exposed in terms of human rights. The main risks in these countries are related to subcontracting and activities requiring a large and low-skilled workforce (including migrants). Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 among the migrant worker population, for example, local authorities have not allowed them to leave their dormitories except to work. Therefore, with the approval of local authorities, the local entity has been housing migrant workers in private residential premises (condominiums). The aim is to improve their living conditions and to guarantee the principle of free movement.
Entities must also assess any new business activity using a dedicated grid aimed at identifying the risk factors specific to the planned activity.
In this way, partners, suppliers and subcontractors of business development projects are subject to prior investigation. For example, this allows to identify for hydrogen production installation projects, the risks related to water or land requirements. Risks are assessed according to the country, the activity, the presence of vulnerable populations, the products/services used, or the type of commercial relations. Depending on the identified risks, some partners and suppliers are also subject to ethical due diligence that explicitly includes human rights.
In 2020, for example, within the framework of the Group's investment committees, all (100%) of the files related to partners were subject to due diligence with human rights risks. At BU level, some 83% of the Group's entities have assessed the files presented to the BU's commitments committee against human rights criteria.
In the MESCATA BU, all files presented to the Group & BU investment committees are subject to a level 1 and 2 analysis. Each level of analysis addresses the risks related to the human rights practices of business partners, subcontractors and suppliers involved in the project. The results of this analysis are included in an ethics note highlighting the main risks identified and the associated mitigation measures to be implemented.
In addition, specific human rights impact assessments can also be carried out in specific situations. For example, for projects that have impacts on local communities, we can request the service of a third party outside the Group who carries out not only the consultation of local stakeholders, even when the consultation has been carried out upstream by the public authorities in the context of a call for tenders, but also the impact assessment of the project with regard to human rights with, if necessary, an action plan to be deployed by our teams locally (for example a sea water desalination project with a fully renewable energy solution in the Dakhla region). In addition, if the assessments reveal a risk of too significant impact of a project on local communities or other, we do not hesitate to renounce or stop the project (ENGIE, for example, has ceased all contractual relations with a mining company for human rights reasons).
Human rights policy
The Group human rights policy, the first version of which was drawn up in 2014 under the name in 2014 “Human Rights Referential”, aims to define the means necessary to ensure compliance with the Group's commitments in all its activities by implementing a global vigilance approach. It is now the foundation of the Group's vigilance plan for human rights.
The Group's human rights commitments
- The Group makes sure that the fundamental rights of its employees are respected, in accordance with the fundamental conventions of the International Labor Organization: it rejects all forms of forced or compulsory labor, of child labor, of human trafficking, of discrimination and recognizes freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The Group pays particular attention to guarantee the highest standards of health and safety in the workplace, working hours and holidays in accordance with international standards and equal remunerations.
- ENGIE rejects all forms of harassment and violence in the workplace and makes sure that its employees are provided with a working environment that is respectful of their individual freedoms and privacy.
- The Group ensures that its activities do not infringe the rights of local communities surrounding its sites, and that assignments related to the security of its employees and assets are conducted with respect for human rights.
To ensure compliance with all of its human rights commitments and to meet French and international requirements, the Group relies on different cross-functional policies and policies specific to certain issues, particularly the human rights policy. The health and safety, CSR, and purchasing policies complement the human rights policy, covering specific commitments that fall within their particular scope.
Today, the Group vigilance plan, adopted in 2018 as required by the French law on the duty of vigilance of parent companies and ordering companies, aims to identify and avoid serious harm to people and the environment. It is based on the Group's human rights approach policies, and also widely covers the Group's commitments in terms of human rights, and contributes to their operational implementation.
Human rights risk management
The Group exercises vigilance by identifying and managing any risks to people that arise from its activities. The vigilance approach is guided by the UN Guiding Principles and French law on the duty of vigilance of parent companies and ordering companies.
The human rights policy calls for vigilance processes at the Group level and at the operational level to ensure that human rights risks are managed as part of all activities, in particular:
- Annual risk analysis: the risk of human rights violations is seen as a major risk for ENGIE. As a result, all operational entities must ensure that the Group's commitments are being respected: human rights violation risks must be evaluated annually, and corrective action plans must be established for any identified risks.
- Risk assessment for any new activities: any new project, any new business relationship that arises from the development of a new activity or from starting business in a new country, must be subject to a preliminary human rights risk analysis.
- Due diligence on partners and suppliers: human rights risks that are part of business relationships are fully covered by ethical due diligence.
- Creation of grievance mechanisms at the operational and/or Group level, so that anyone who believes they have been impacted by the Group's activities can freely submit their questions, comments, or requests.
- The internal Group ethical incident reporting system (INFORM’ethics) explicitly includes human rights incidents.
Progress on the operational implementation of the human rights approach
Actions to mitigate risks and prevent serious harm
Prevent the risk of disproportionate use of force
- In certain situations, the intervention of government security forces or private security companies may be necessary to protect the employees and facilities of Group entities. In order to prevent the risk of disproportionate use of force, the Group's requirements include the compulsory training of employees and security personnel.
Prevent the risks associated with modern slavery
- The UK's Modern Slavery Act imposes criminal penalties on companies and individuals in the UK who are found guilty of modern slavery offences. In 2018, the UK BU set up a modern slavery working group (consisting of staff from the HR, Legal, Procurement and CSR departments) to coordinate the UK BU's activities in this area. The working group produced an action plan on modern slavery in early 2019, and this plan was developed in 2020. The plan outlines measures to be implemented to mitigate the risks associated with modern slavery. Here are some of the measures implemented in 2020;
- A revised and improved statement on modern slavery has been published, as required by the Modern Slavery Act 2015 ;
- Due diligence investigations were conducted on the top 50 suppliers to the UK BU (by annual expenditure) ;
- The modern slavery training module for frontline staff has been revised so that staff are better equipped to spot the signs of modern slavery ;
- The regeneration business has taken steps to become a signatory to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Agencies construction protocol, which focuses on the prevention of modern slavery. The GLAA is a public body under the control of the UK Home Office.
Group employees are constantly reminded of the need to remain vigilant to the risk of modern slavery in an article entitled 'Modern slavery - don't ignore your suspicions', which was published in the UK BU ethics bulletin in July 2020. The UK BU also produced a short film which was made available to staff (it was distributed by email and is available on the company app and on the UK Ethics intranet page).
Awareness tools and other risk mitigation actions
Tools have been deployed to raise employee awareness on human rights issues :
- A face-to-face training course on the Group's human rights approach was developed in 2019 for the entire Group and was fully rolled out in 2020. It is mandatory in certain entities. In 2020, 360 employees were trained on human rights ;
- A new e-learning module on human rights for all employees has also been rolled out since 2019 ;
- Regarding the prevention and fight against harassment, against all forms of discrimination not only within the Group but also for the benefit of the personnel of the subcontractors, the following actions have been launched in 2020 ;
- The Ethics Department, along with the Human Resources Department, has set up a working group of nine Business Units around the world to publish a guide against sexual harassment and sexist behaviour. A first draft has been drawn up, aiming to establish common principles concerning the qualification and treatment of these acts within the group. The primary objective is to provide recommendations, particularly to BUs that do not have such a policy, in order to encourage them to adopt one. It reaffirms ENGIE's principle of zero tolerance towards any discrimination.
- Similarly, a guide against all forms of discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons has been prepared for a deployment in 2021.
In the Business Units
More and more Business Units and entities are appointing "sexual harassment and gender-based violence" representatives.
In the BtoC FRANCE BU, the CEO and the Ethics & Compliance officer provided a reminder of the fundamentals of the policy on moral harassment / discrimination. In addition, during a webinar with a large audience, human rights issues were addressed by the CEO.
The GBS BU has also rolled out a 'Preventing sexual harassment and sexism in the workplace' training course for all levels of management.
Regarding the NORAM BU, in 2020, following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement which intended to highlight the persistence of racial inequalities in the United States, the BU intensified its strategic and tactical actions:
- The NORAM BU reached out to 29 other clean energy companies to coordinate, draft and release an external statement on racial justice and equality* ;
- Launch of a virtual learning path, focusing on unconscious bias and inclusion, training employees and leaders to enable diverse talent to thrive and experience a true sense of belonging ;
- In 2020, a Culture & Values Team (CVT) D&I committee was launched. It consists of a diverse team of business members, and meets quarterly (or more often if needed) to oversee actions in the BU to discuss goals, challenges, opportunities and support for D&I, as well as to celebrate progress ;
- The creation of monitoring D&I indicators based on available data will be defined to measure the success of D&I initiatives.
With regard to hiring:
- The BU has committed to a diverse list of candidates for job opportunities, action supported and deployed by HR ;
- The BU will provide mandatory "unconscious bias" training to all recruiting managers in 2021 ;
- The BU is expanding its efforts to recruit university graduates from historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions, as well as working with job training programs geared toward disadvantaged populations, and will finally offer paid internship programs for individuals from economically disadvantaged communities. In addition, the legal department focused on D&I initiatives in 2020, including requiring the reporting of D&I statistics in legal bids and increasing efforts on internships for minority candidates.
* The round table we organised had 27 participants.
ENGIE China strives to be a place of opportunities and possibilities for people from different backgrounds. In December 2020, women represented 56.1% of the workforce, more than men.
Employee awareness campaigns are widely relayed by the Business Units.
For example, in 2020, the France renewables BU stepped up the ethics training and awareness-raising initiatives it has been running for several years for all employees.
In the MESCATA BU, the risk relating to human rights is challenging as it relates to the regional legal context where local regulations provide some restrictions on workers’ rights (recognized by international organizations). We promote and implement alternative measures to enable employees to meet and discuss work related issues freely and independently such the MESCATA BU Harassment Prevention Policy and the training sessions for new joiners include vigilance plan awareness. We are also implementing a training program focusing on Vigilance plan for 2021 and requesting all employees to attend the human rights modules. The duty of vigilance has been inserted into the training sessions with a focus on the Group Human Rights Questionnaire to be filled in by the Business Developers.
The Impact BU, for its part, has for example made training on the Group's human rights approach mandatory for all employees in 2020, as it is important for ENGIE Impact employees to be aware of human rights issues and to remain vigilant for employees and third parties. The BU also implements a training program on the entire vigilance plan.
For the Benelux BU, awareness of human rights issues among the executive committee and management teams has increased considerably thanks to the BU's ethics training courses for these people.
Ethical due diligence on business partners and customers
Ethical due diligence on business partners and customers is also systematically carried out in most of the Business Units.
In the MESCATA BU, when due diligence is carried out on a business partner in application of the Group's policy by the BU ethics team or by a professional external service provider, the analysis includes a verification of the partner's reputation in terms of human rights (respect for labour law, controversies with local communities in other projects, allegations by local NGOs, etc.).
Inclusion of the Group's ethics clause in contracts
The inclusion in the contractual documentation of the ENGIE Group's standard ethics clause containing, in particular, the requirements related to the duty of vigilance and human rights is also a requirement that is widely implemented in the various Business Units (approximately 82% of the Group's entities) .
In the China BU's investment projects, all JVs created or negotiated contain references to ethical principles, including human rights.
Monitoring the human rights approach
The monitoring of the human rights policy and of the deployment of the required processes are integrated into existing ethical compliance processes: the annual ethics compliance report and the internal control system.
Progress on the operational implementation of the human rights approach
To ensure the proper application of the Human rights policy, its monitoring has been integrated into the Group's ethical compliance processes:
- Quantitative and qualitative indicators on the implementation of the required operational processes are included in the Group's ethical compliance procedure. Each business unit reports annually on the progress made in applying the policy (with a letter of compliance from the entity's director certifying its responsibility and commitment to its application).
- Control reviews related to operational risk analyses have been integrated into the ethics section of the Group's internal control system.
These monitoring processes allow ENGIE SA to ensure the effective application of the human rights vigilance plan and to define, if necessary, additional control actions such as internal or external audits.
In 2020, 84% of the entities that evaluated the deployment of the human rights policy considered that the deployment is effective (level 4). In the same year, the monitoring of the quality of the self-assessments (INCOME COR 4) carried out by the Business Units was reinforced. In particular, it was decided to set up an individual action plan for all Business Units with weak results.
The Ethics, Compliance & Privacy Department (DECP) relies on a network of Ethics and Compliance officers (220 worldwide by the end of 2020) responsible for promoting the human rights policy to employees of the entities and ensuring that the Group's commitments are properly implemented locally.
For example, the France Renewables BU allocates resources within the existing teams for specific monitoring of the integration of new entities/activities into the BU.
In 2020, there was a gradual strengthening of the Business Units' operational responses linked to the deployment of the human rights policy.