Developing our due diligence practices

The 2020 risk assessment on human rights was the first step toward a more credible and robust governance. This extensive screening, which laid the groundwork for 2021, also enabled us to incorporate our newly found practices into ongoing and upcoming undertakings.

Given our complex value chain, we needed to find a way to ensure our processes are aligned and follow a systematic structure on how to manage the most salient human rights risks within our operations. In 2021, we continued assessing our risk management processes and generally increasing our competence in how human rights should be managed and specifically how human rights impact assessment practices should be integrated into our operations.

The key to our approach to human rights due diligence practices is that we must first understand our impact; then, identify the processes we need to develop our practices further; and finally, increase our competence and knowledge of human rights within all business areas.

In the second half of 2021, we conducted a management systems review, a deep dive into our operations, which identified the critical elements we need to improve. The review also uncovered a genuine desire from individuals to comprehend how we impact our entire value chain. The development topics highlighted were largely aligned with the findings in the 2020 human rights assessment. Together, these now provide us with a coherent roadmap toward developing robust due diligence practices and governance models for compliance topics, such as human rights.

For us to develop a robust due diligence architecture from a process perspective, we need to ensure our grievance mechanisms are in line with regulation. Our whistleblowing channel SpeakUp, introduced 2020, allows stakeholders to report any incidents that they believe violate working conditions or exhibit unethical behavior. Since the introduction of SpeakUp we have put more emphases on training our employees and will continue to promote the importance of due diligence and other salient issues in 2022.

Read also: Making an impact through engagement and collaboration

HSSE in focus

One of the key areas identified in our human rights assessment was the health and safety of our employees at production sites and retail stores.

While Health, Safety, Security, and Environment (HSSE) policies and standards have always been a priority, embedding them into our sustainability work has enabled us to widen our approach to developing our safety culture and processes, as well as setting KPIs on the group level.

The health of our employees is paramount. To ensure safe working conditions, we maintain the existing standards that we have grown accustomed to. We are pleased to see that safety observations in Norway increased by almost 40% and that no injuries were recorded during 2021. The increase indicates that we have successfully created an environment for our employees to report safety issues before they result in serious injury.

The Arctic Wind project

As part of our energy transition journey, we focus on projects that address climate change challenges and the escalating energy crisis. One of those projects is Arctic Wind. The location for the Arctic Wind project would, given the unbeatable wind conditions, enable the park to produce more energy than all the other wind parks in Northern Norway combined and still only affect a small fraction (one-sixth) of the area. As such, it has the capacity to deliver on national climate goals and make our industries competitive in a world that requires green energy solutions.

As a society, we must find a balance between increasing renewable energy production, conserving nature, and meeting people’s needs. To that end, we want to maintain good relationships and open dialogue with affected stakeholders, since we believe the best solutions for the future are developed together.

We encourage everyone to report suspected human rights violations or business misconduct through SpeakUp. We also welcome any kind of feedback concerning our processes through the same channel.

As stated in our vision, we build our operational practices on Nordic values, which means that we take our social responsibilities and impacts on people seriously. Therefore, during 2021, we initiated a mapping exercise to identify potential gaps in the existing wind power concession system regarding its alignment with the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The work is conducted together with Enact, one of the Nordics’ leading consultancy companies focusing on human rights. Based on the results of this work we aim to continue developing best practices for social impact assessments and our human rights due diligence across the organization.

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