Today, Stora Enso launched the results of its Group-wide Human Rights Assessments in a report consolidated by the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR). Stora Enso is among the few companies globally to publicly report on Group-wide human rights findings covering production units, wood supply operations, supply chain management and local community relations.
The assessments looked at 43 human rights issue areas, covering labour rights, community impacts and controls for suppliers and business partners. Covering 93 units in 22 countries, and part of Stora Enso's ongoing due diligence, assessments were carried out in 2014 supported by DIHR. The assessments also covered joint operations Veracel in Brazil and Montes del Plata in Uruguay, and the equity accounted investment Bulleh Shah Packaging in Pakistan.
"This was a new endeavor for us and we have our partners - especially the Danish Institute for Human Rights – to thank for guiding us" says Karl-Henrik Sundström, CEO of Stora Enso. "Going forward, we will engage with stakeholders in reviewing the results and planning actions. Launching the human rights action plans in 2015 will be a top priority for us. We see this report as a baseline, and will agree on ambitious but realistic milestones based on detailed analyses of what needs to be done to make a real change. The way we see it, transparency increases accountability."
"The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require companies to understand how they might cause or contribute to adverse impacts on human rights. Having this knowledge is a prerequisite for being a sustainable company" says Allan Lerberg Jørgensen, Director for Human Rights and Development at The Danish Institute for Human Rights. "With this report, Stora Enso demonstrates the kind of corporate leadership needed to realise that journey. Very few companies have undertaken human rights due diligence on this scale."
The key Group-wide findings of the report are related to monitoring of employment conditions of third-party in-premise staff; promoting diversity management; improving overtime practices and entry-level wages at some units; strengthening procedures and guidance on protecting the privacy of employees; supporting and facilitating collective bargaining; improving in Occupational Health and Safety at some units; strengthening grievance mechanisms; improving procedures on environmental and social impact assessments; developing policies and procedures on security management; continuing to implement the Supplier Code of Conduct; and ensuring that all human rights impacts are considered in responsible supply chain management.
When prioritising actions, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights advise companies to have remediation measures in place for impacts that are severe or that can become irreversible if delayed. Stora Enso will follow this approach and set action plans for prioritised impacts – severe impacts, irreversible impacts, possible legal non-compliances and gaps with Stora Enso policies – by the end of Q2 2015.
In countries where Stora Enso perceives heightened human rights impacts, it carried out human rights assessments with external third party support and site visits. In 13 units in China, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Poland, external visits were performed by Fair Working Conditions, an independent non-profit organisation. In Guangxi, China, Stora Enso worked with DIHR. In Pakistan an external human rights consultant supported the assessment. For the trial plantation operations in Laos, Stora Enso collaborated with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR).