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Human rights

Our commitment to respecting human rights is at the core of our approach to sustainability, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is critical to the success and integrity of operating as a responsible business.

What are human rights?

Human rights recognise the inherent value of each person and are based on principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood (Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

We respect all internationally recognised human rights as set out in the International Bill of Human Rights. We particularly focus efforts on those people most vulnerable to harm, being marginalised, or at risk of having basic dignity and equality undermined. Collaborating with our peers, suppliers, host governments, non-profit organisations, rights-holders, and our other stakeholders addresses this risk in our supply chain and more broadly.

Our Approach to Human Rights, which we first published in July 2021, can be viewed here.

Our due diligence processes identify, prevent, mitigate, and remedy potential or actual adverse human rights impacts in our operations and value chains.

We focus our efforts on addressing severe or irremediable risks to vulnerable or marginalised individuals or groups as well as risks connected to our operations.

Our material human rights risks and impacts are regularly reviewed through our community human rights impact assessments, supplier human rights assessments and other tailored human rights due diligence processes.

The most material human rights risks and impacts we face relate to:

  • Workplace health, safety and labour conditions, including freedom from slavery, rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining; 
  • Equality and non-discrimination, including gender equality, inclusion and diversity and transformation in South Africa;  
  • Access to water and sanitation;  
  • The impacts of security services on human rights; and 
  • The impacts on the rights of communities that live near our operations, including Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

'Freedom from slavery' is one of the most fundamental freedoms that applies to all people.

Our annual Modern Slavery Statement outlines our commitment to identifying and addressing any modern slavery in our operations and supply chain.

Read more about our stance against modern slavery here.

Our approach to responsible sourcing relies on collaboration with our suppliers to minimise health, safety, environmental, human rights and other social risks.

We set out our expectations of suppliers in our Code of Business Conduct and Sustainability and Business Conduct Supplier Requirements. In addition, we assess risks associated with our suppliers, support our respective teams to align with our internal standards through stewardship activities and track the effectiveness of our joint efforts.

For further information please read our:

Making sure everyone goes home safe and well is our highest priority at South32.

Read more about our commitment to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and our approach to human rights and security practices here.

We encourage employees, individuals, suppliers and communities to raise concerns with us directly, through our complaints and grievances mechanisms at every operation.

For confidential concerns, we have an independent external platform 'EthicsPoint' for any person to anonymously report concerns regarding potential breaches of our Code of Business Conduct, including concerns related to human rights.

Find out more about our Speak Up policy here.