Management of Valio’s human rights impacts

In line with its Code of Conduct, Valio is committed to respecting human rights and ethical business operations. Valio has identified its human rights impacts and manages them through a human rights due diligence process.

Management of human rights work

At Valio, respect for human rights at the Executive Board level is the responsibility of the head of Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations. Valio’s human rights work is headed by Valio’s SVP of Group Sustainability, who reports about it to management. The implementation of Valio’s human rights due diligence process is directed by Valio’s Sustainability Manager through social responsibility team activities.

Valio’s internal operating models and the mutual interaction and treatment of Valio employees have a direct impact on the people working at Valio. The outer perimeter shows the people who are indirectly impacted by Valio’s own operations or its supply chain. Included in communities are the people who may be impacted by Valio’s operations (product marketing, transportation, neighbourhoods around the plants, etc).

Human rights impact assessment

In 2019 Valio systematically conducted an extensive human rights impact assessment, based on the Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR) compliance assessment tool as well as on several external and internal sources, such as observation and reporting channels, audits, employee surveys, and country- and sector-specific human rights reports.

In conjunction with identifying the impacts, we looked at whether the impact already exists, whether the impact is possible or not possible, and what the current management mechanisms are. The calculation of the magnitude of the human rights risk is based on the assessment of the overall severity (volume, gravity, remediability) and probability of the impact.

Based on the assessment, the most significant risks were identified and, if materialised, would be serious, although the probability of them is low. These are:

  • Shortcomings related to employment and working conditions
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Negative impacts on people health and safety
  • Use of child labour and young workers
  • Forced labour
  • Restricting freedom of association
  • Restricting freedom of expression
  • Large-scale use of water in producing of agricultural raw materials
If these risks materialise, Valio can impact on the following human rights:
in our own operations Human right to health, safe working conditions, as well as non-discrimination and non-harassment
indirectly, e.g., in its procurement and supply chain Rights related to working conditions, the freedom of assembly and association, the freedom of opinion and expression, children’s rights and the ban on forced labour. Additionally, we identified risks that may have a wide-ranging impact on a number of human rights. These include, e.g., unfair competition, bribery, corruption, and the environmental impacts of milk production.

Among Valio’s most significant human rights impacts, the ones that will be the focus of targeted measures are regularly prioritised. The selected measures are monitored as part of function-specific operating plans, and within the scope of the social responsibility operating plan.

Stakeholder engagement, human rights impact monitoring, and remediation

When possible, the relevant parties are used to assist in identifying the human rights impacts; such parties include the stakeholders targeted by the assessment, as well as experts on the subject (e.g. industry organisations, trade unions, etc.), whose opinions are heard as part of the assessment process.

The realisation of human rights is monitored continuously through internal and external reporting channels. Valio is committed to remedying and compensating/reimbursing for a possibly realised human rights violation when needed, taking into account its own impact relationship (caused, contributed, linked).

Assessing human rights impacts is not a one-time task

The timeliness of human rights impacts and the effectiveness of measures taken are assessed at least every three years by reviewing the existing assessments and the measures implemented. The assessment of human rights impacts is also systematically expanded to a more detailed level as the function-level work advances.

A review of a human rights impacts assessment is initiated also in connection with the following events:

  • New functions/new business
  • Significant changes in the external operating environment
  • Significant changes in internal operations
  • A new impact, risk, or perspective relevant to Valio’s operations reported through some channel and which must be taken into consideration.

Human rights impacts communications

Valio’s human rights impacts and work are communicated externally as part of Valio’s Sustainability Report, through stakeholder collaboration, and on Valio’s website.

Human rights are communicated internally as part of social responsibility communications and training.