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Human rights initiatives [LA15,HR2,HR11]

Recognizing that human rights is an important issue, Kao has adopted the Kao Human Rights Policy in accordance with international human rights principles and is strengthening efforts in this area.

2015 activities
Kao formulated and announced the new Kao Human Rights Policy, which is based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and is promoting awareness of it among Kao Group companies and divisions.
In addition, Kao is promoting the investigation and identification of human rights risks within the Group and in the supply chain.

Policies/structures

As the globalization of corporate activities advances and the value chain expands, the risks of various human rights problems are increasing. As shown by the adoption of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights*1 in 2011, the attention of the international community as a whole is focusing on the efforts of companies to address human rights issues.
In collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders, the Kao Group promotes the achievement of the Kao Way mission, which is “to strive for the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people globally and to contribute to the sustainability of the world.” In this collaboration, we firmly believe that fulfilling our responsibility to respect the human rights of various stakeholders in line with international standards is the foundation of our business activity.
In 2005 Kao declared its support for the United Nations Global Compact, which defines 10 principles in the four areas of human rights, labor standards, the environment, and anti-corruption. In addition, the Kao Business Conduct Guidelines, the Kao Group’s code of conduct, defines the policy of respect for human rights and prohibition of child labor and forced labor. Kao also requires suppliers to show respect for human rights through the Guidelines for Suppliers’ Assessment.
Furthermore, in June 2015 Kao formulated and announced the new Kao Human Rights Policy. On the basis of this policy, Kao promotes group-wide efforts to respect human rights in business activities as a whole, including awareness raising and human rights due diligence.*2

  • *1 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
    Principles related to business and human rights proposed by UN Special Representative John Ruggie and endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011
  • *2 Human rights due diligence
    Ongoing process to identify, evaluate, and avoid or mitigate impacts of corporate activities on human rights

Global

Adoption of Kao Human Rights Policy

In June 2015, after consultations among related internal divisions and with reference to the opinions of external experts, Kao formulated and announced the new Kao Human Rights Policy, which is based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In this policy, Kao declares its aim to respect the human rights of a diverse range of stakeholders, including employees, consumers, local communities, suppliers, and other business partners, throughout the entire process of Yoki-Monozukuri.
Furthermore, the policy stipulates that Kao respects and complies with international norms relating to human rights, such as the International Bill of Human Rights*1 and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work,*2 which stipulates core labor standards, including the effective abolition of child labor and the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The policy also states that Kao will comply with the laws applicable in each country and region in which it operates. If there are conflicts between internationally recognized human rights and the laws of a country or region, Kao will follow processes that seek ways to honor the principles of international human rights.
As specific activities, the policy states that Kao will conduct human rights due diligence and will investigate and identify human rights risks in the business activities of the Kao Group, take measures to prevent or mitigate them, report the results, and promote awareness raising among employees.

  • *1 International Bill of Human Rights
    Consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • *2 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
    Declaration defining core labor standards adopted at the International Labour Conference in 1998

Global

Process of human rights due diligence

At present Kao is making the following efforts to investigate and identify human rights risks involving the Kao Group.

・Efforts of the Kao Group

As a part of self-inspection in responsible care activities, Kao implements the management and secretariat auditing of occupational safety and health check sheets related to human rights targeting Kao Group companies both in and outside Japan. In addition, Kao conducts surveys of overseas production sites and Kao Group companies both in and outside Japan through self-check sheets. Furthermore, Kao has formulated voluntary inspection sheets based on the Kao Business Conduct Guidelines for checks at Kao Group companies and production sites within Japan.

・Efforts in the supply chain

Kao requires suppliers to conduct self-assessment based on Kao’s Guidelines for Suppliers’ Assessment and monitors the results. In December 2014 Kao became a member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex*), the world’s largest membership organization for sharing ethical supply chain data, and has been considering its utilization. In the fall of 2015 Kao first of all began to request overseas suppliers to register with Sedex and enter their replies. Since January 2016 Kao has been holding explanatory meetings for suppliers in Japan and is urging them also to register with Sedex and enter their replies.
In addition to Kao’s own self-assessment, Kao will conduct more detailed human rights risk assessment based on the contents of the replies to Sedex and link it to the identification and mitigation of human rights risks and the prevention of human rights violations.

Global

Training and communication

After the formulation of the Kao Human Rights Policy in June 2015, explanatory meetings (including online meetings) were held on 22 times by December 2015 with the aim of raising awareness among Kao Group companies and divisions. In addition, efforts to disseminate the policy were made by distributing the Kao Sustainability Report 2015 and the company newsletter, both of which carried articles introducing the Kao Human Rights Policy, to all employees of the Kao Group. The importance of diversity and respect for human rights was also explained at various training sessions.
Furthermore, in September 2015 Kao participated in the Business and Human Rights Conference in Tokyo 2015. The opportunity to listen to presentations by experts on human rights from around the world and to hear about the activities of other companies enabled Kao to understand the latest world trends relating to business and human rights. Kao’s own activities were introduced as well.

Training session on human rights at Kanebo Cosmetics

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