News

Policy on human rights

May 2015

Overview
We believe that societies, economies and businesses thrive when human rights are protected and respected. 

Respect for human rights is fundamental to our purpose of serving the world by making food people love and to our commitment to ethical business conduct. Through this statement, we seek to clearly articulate our commitment and approach to human rights. 

Our respect for human rights

We respect and acknowledge internationally recognized human rights principles.  Within our Company and throughout our supply chain, we are committed to treating people with dignity and respect. 

To inform our approach to human rights, we look to:

  • The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The International Labor Organization’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. 

We have been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) since 2008 and are guided by the UNGC’s 10 principles regarding human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. 

We have also embraced the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles.

We recognize that governments are ultimately responsible for establishing the legal framework to protect human rights within their jurisdictions.  Central to our respect for human rights is our commitment to the rule of law and to compliance with the law wherever we operate. We expect our business partners, both internal and external, to have the same commitment. 

Our sphere of influence

We work within a large, diverse value chain of business partners and stakeholders. We recognize that each entity in this value chain has its own independent duty to respect human rights. We expect them to adhere to ethical business conduct consistent with our own. We are committed to working with our business partners and stakeholders to fulfill this common goal.

Consistent with the principles set forth in our Employee Code of Conduct and Supplier Code of Conduct, we:

  • Prohibit forced labor, child labor, and discrimination. 
  • Work to establish safe and healthy working conditions.
  • Value diversity and consider it core to our business strategy. 
  • Seek to compensate employees competitively and operate in compliance with applicable wage, work hours, overtime and benefits laws. 
  • Respect the principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining. 
  • Recognize the importance of land rights as well as the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), as outlined in our Palm Oil Statement.
  • Support implementation of FPIC by national authorities.   

Addressing human rights impact

As part of our commitment to respect human rights, we have established internal and external mechanisms to help identify, address and mitigate potential adverse human rights impacts that may be caused by our actions. Many of these mechanisms are integrated into our operations through established policies on a variety of topics such as labor standards, ethics, sourcing, safety, climate and water. 

Of particular significance are our Employee Code of Conduct and Supplier Code of Conduct, as noted above.  We regularly review the content and application of these policies with the goal of    continuously improving our ability to fulfill our commitments.

Community and stakeholder engagement

We recognize that we are part of a broader community wherever we operate.  In the communities where we operate, we believe that engaging stakeholders – including those from more at-risk populations - is fundamental to our respect for human rights.  Where practical, we are committed to dialogue and engagement with all relevant parties in an effort to understand, assess and address areas of concern as appropriate. 

Implementation and training

Training is an important part of effective human rights practices.   We therefore undertake efforts to build awareness about our human rights policies and procedures.

Governance and reporting

The Public Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors oversees our work in this area.

Operational accountability rests with the head of Global Supply Chain, supported by members of the Global Executive Team including the Chief Executive Officer as well as the heads of Global Legal, External Relations and Human Resources. 

Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we will report progress on implementation through a variety of mediums, including our annual Global Responsibility Report.

Concerns and issues

Should you have questions, concerns or issues related to this Statement, we encourage you to communicate them to us via our Ethics Line at generalmillsethics.ethicspoint.com or 1-800-210-2878.

For locations outside of the United States, toll-free dialing instructions are available at generalmillsethics.ethicspoint.com.  

The Ethics Line allows you to remain anonymous (where allowed by law). 

No reprisal or retaliatory action will be taken against anyone for raising legitimate concerns.  We are committed to investigating and responding to such concerns in a prompt and responsible manner.