The Asahi Group implements the following human rights due diligence process in order to respect the human rights of all stakeholders affected by our business activities. This due diligence process is pursued in accordance with the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
When formulating the Asahi Group Human Rights Principles, we identified eight key human rights issues to be tackled in the course of our business activities.
Subsequent gap analysis and best practice case studies on these eight issues revealed the high importance of responding to human rights risks in the “supply chain” and among “Asahi Group employees,” and the need for “development of a framework for remedy to victims of human rights violation.”
The following three high-priority areas have thus been identified, and work is underway on the formulation and implementation of concrete action plans for the short and medium terms.
The Asahi Group appreciates the importance of tackling human rights issues in supply chains in the course of its business activities, and has launched a number of initiatives in this area.
To coincide with its commitment to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015, the Asahi Group conducted a theoretical analysis and assessment of risk focusing on modern slavery from two perspectives: the 17 countries in which the Asahi Group’s production bases are located and the 11 major items procured by the Asahi Group.
The analysis and assessment determined that the highest risk of modern slavery in the Asahi Group's supply chain occurs during the “growing crops” stage. We also confirmed that even among the main direct materials procured by the Asahi Group, those deemed to carry an “extremely high” risk of modern slavery were coffee, sugar, tea, palm oil and cacao. The assessment also verified the business impact of these five raw materials.
The Asahi Group has received recommendations from experts from the perspective of what kind of human rights risk management will be necessary in the future to mitigate human rights risks, with a focus on addressing human rights in supply chains that carry a particularly high risk in the food industry. These recommendations are reflected in our action plans.
In order to further our work on human rights issues in the supply chain, in 2020 we joined The Global Alliance for Sustainable Supply Chain (ASSC). The Asahi Group supports ASSC’s activities aimed at “building and promoting a sustainable economic society that respects the human rights and the workers’ rights of all people.” In 2020 we held dialogues on a variety of topics as we worked to give concrete shape to our action plans.
Furthermore, some working environments for foreign technical interns and other foreign workers in Japan have been criticized both in Japan and abroad for violating human rights. The Asahi Group has now become involved in the Japan Platform for Migrant Workers towards Responsible and Inclusive Society, an organization established by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and ASSC for purposes including the protection of human rights and improvement of living and working environments for foreign workers. In partnership with other organizations in the platform we continue to work toward the realization of “decent work” for foreign workers.
To coincide with the formulation of the Asahi Group Human Rights Principles, in January 2020 we implemented revisions to the Asahi Group Supplier Code of Conduct. The Asahi Group shares information about various policies with its suppliers at briefings held annually and in other opportunities. In the Asahi Group Supplier Code of Conduct, we call upon suppliers to respect human rights, including to “not discriminate against, commit any act that damages the dignity of any individual or engage in any harassment” “ensure safe and healthy work environment,” “eliminate forced labor,” “abolish child labor effectively,” and “uphold their human rights responsibility in the communities in which they do business.” We also required our primary suppliers of raw and packaging materials to provide a statement of consent to our new Code of Conduct.
In 2020, we conducted human rights training for the managers and leaders of procurement departments at operating companies in Japan, and also provided e-learning programs for procurement department personnel both in Japan and internationally (176 people eligible; 100% attendance rate).
We sent training materials on sustainable procurement initiatives and global ESG trends including human rights, to all 900 of our continuous primary suppliers in Japan and internationally, enabling them to further their understanding of the Human Rights Principles and Supplier Code of Conduct. We also had them submit their opinions on these materials to serve as a reference point for future policies and responses.
The Asahi Group appreciates the importance of human rights initiatives among its employees and is introducing such initiatives as part of its business activities. We strive to mitigate human rights risks to employees and pursue human rights education for employees, as the basis for creating an environment in which employees can work with vigor and extend their capabilities.
We have conducted checks for the employment of non-regular foreign workers and foreign technical interns by all group companies in Japan.
In 2020, together with ASSC, we conducted a labor conditions survey and native-language interviews with 40 technical interns at the Okayama Plant of Asahi Group Foods, Ltd., which accepts foreign technical interns. This investigation yielded positive overall evaluations, finding that there was interest among the interns in the Technical Intern Training Program and that their living environment was sound. Improvements to be made in the future include the posting of notices in employees’ native languages on matters such as internal regulations and precautions within the plant, and education on emergency response procedures. Moreover, we will work to address problems that cannot be solved by the company alone, through channels such as the Japan Platform for Migrant Workers towards Responsible and Inclusive Society.
The Asahi Group considers it important to ascertain the needs of vulnerable stakeholders, in order to identify internal human rights risks and prevent and rectify infringements of human rights.
The Asahi Group publicly proclaims its commitment to respecting human rights, regardless of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are taking a wide range of measures as shown below.
The Asahi Group Code of Conduct states that we “will not discriminate against or commit any act that damages the dignity of any individual based on nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, gender, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or employment status.” We are implementing training for all employees in order to instill the principles of this Code of Conduct.
At the Asahi Group, we clearly state in the Asahi Group Human Rights Principles that we will not discriminate on the basis of “gender identity” or “sexual orientation,” and endeavor to accommodate sexual minorities (LGBT).
In 2019, we conducted Training to Promote Understanding of the Asahi Group Human Rights Principles and LGBT Sensitivity Training for managers associated with personnel and general affairs at our operating companies in Japan.
In 2020, we are offering e-Learning on basic knowledge of human rights and LGBT to all officers and employees of our operating companies in Japan. We aim to create a comfortable working environment for everyone that respects the human rights and diversity of individuals and is free of discrimination, in order to continually enhance corporate value.
The Asahi Group conducts the Universal Manners Test organized by the NPO Japan Universal Manners Association for employees.
The Japan Universal Manners Association defines “universal manners” as mindfulness and behavior that is considerate toward all different kinds of people, such as elderly people, people with disabilities, people using strollers, and people from other countries.
We learn about issues faced by many different people and their psychology, and use this understanding in our daily lives and in our work to improve corporate value.
To eradicate discrimination, Asahi Breweries, Ltd. provides its new employees with anti-discrimination training in April each year. In the training, new employees view an educational video which is used to promote understanding of discrimination issues, and have discussions to deepen their awareness of the issues.
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The Asahi Group has declared that it fulfills its obligation to consider the safety of employees, protects their lives and physical wellbeing together with their health, and takes a firm stance against all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment and bullying.
Group companies in Japan provide human resources and general affairs personnel with workplace bullying prevention training conducted by outside attorneys. In 2020, about 30 employees received training.
We also provide newly appointed managerial personnel with workplace harassment training, where participants can share knowledge on various compliance-related risks from their perspectives as managers and hold discussions focusing on the issues of sexual harassment and bullying.
These activities will bolster the prevention framework by promoting a deeper and broader understanding of harassment and general compliance risks on the part of each employee.
Moving forward, we will continue to raise awareness to better promote a friendly work environment.