Human Rights Policy Statement
C&A respects human rights and is committed to implementing human rights due diligence processes to manage its risks and impacts across the C&A value chain.
Care for people and respect for nature have always been essential principles at C&A. Whilst it is the duty of governments to protect and enforce human rights, we recognize that we as a group of companies have a positive role to play in supporting their realization.
Our Commitment to Human Rights
C&A is committed to:
Establishing and promoting a culture of respect for internationally recognized human rights, as set out by the International Bill of Human Rights (i.e. the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work throughout our own organization and value chain;
- Setting up human rights due diligence processes to identify, prevent, mitigate and, where necessary, remediate negative human rights risks and impacts on people and particularly more vulnerable groups affected through our operations, business relationships and products. Our approach is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the principles of the UN Global Compact to which C&A is a signatory;
- Complying, as a minimum, with the laws and regulations of those countries in which we do business and with our own human rights policy, whereas, in case of conflicts between the two we will search for solutions to observe national laws while respecting human rights.
To this end, C&A is participating in relevant multi-stakeholder initiatives like the ‘Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety’, ‘ACT on Living Wages’ agreement, the German ‘Partnership for Sustainable Textiles’, the ‘Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile’ and others.
Based on our understanding of our salient human rights risks, we focus our efforts to respect human rights on four priority areas: our employees, the workers in the textile supply chain, our customers, the environment including communities and broader society.
Our employees are fundamental to the success of our business. We seek to ensure our employees and other individuals who work in our facilities enjoy a safe, fair and supportive working environment where everyone is treated with respect and dignity. In this context, we would like to highlight C&A’s is commitment to:
- Freedom of association for all of our employees. This includes trustful working with local and national work councils, as well as employee representatives.
- Freedom from discrimination based on gender, age, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political and sexual orientation and other personal characteristics in our workforce
- The right to a safe and healthy working environment
- Prohibition of child and any kind of forced labour
- Avoidance of any kind of (sexual) harassment, bullying or other forms of offensive behavior
Our further human rights’ commitments towards social and labour standards at C&A are detailed in our ‘Code of Ethics for Employees’ which will be published in autumn this year. We provide this guideline for all our employees to ensure business conduct in conformity with these principles.
2. Workers and communities in the textile supply chain
We conduct our business in accordance with our values. Honesty and fairness are and remain fundamental principles of our business. We expect our contractually related merchandise suppliers and all other business partners (jointly referred to as “Suppliers”) to adhere to the same approach. We are committed to working with our Suppliers and other external stakeholders to avoid and address potential negative impacts on workers and local communities in our entire textile supply chain.
C&A has – through its ‘Code of Conduct for the Supply of Merchandise’ (the ’Code of Conduct’) and its adhering Supporting Guidelines – defined a set of clear ethical, social and environmental standards for its Suppliers, reflecting the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector. In particular, this includes requirements relating to:
- Elimination of child labor
- Protection from discrimination, including sexual harassment and gender-based violence in employment
- Elimination of forced or bonded labor
- Avoidance of harsh and inhumane treatment
- Respect for freedom of association and collective bargaining
- Provision of a safe and hygienic work environment
- Payment of fair wages
- Avoidance of excessive working hours
- Responsible sourcing from home workers
- Elimination of corruption and bribery
C&A expects all of its Suppliers to adhere to the Code of Conduct – and we will work with them to help them understand and implement their own human rights responsibilities, including within their own supply chains.
Through an increased focus on sustainable and certified fabrics and the collaboration in relevant multi-stakeholder initiatives, C&A works towards addressing human rights risks and impacts across our textile supply chain up to the raw material stage (e.g. cotton farming). We are further reflecting on the potential impacts of our own sourcing and purchasing practices and make adaptations as required.
Millions of customers put their trust in C&A by shopping at our stores and online-shops. We use our best endeavors to meet and exceed their expectations.
In this context, C&A is committed to:
- Providing products that can be enjoyed safely and healthily by our customers and their families
- Promoting a retail environment in which no customer feels discriminated against, regardless of gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity and other personal characteristics
- Using responsible marketing practices that do not undermine the physical, psychological or social wellbeing of consumers or the societies in which we operate
- Respecting the integrity of our customers’ personal data and respecting their privacy
4. Environment, communities and broader society
Environmental degradation poses a threat to peoples’ rights to health – as well as their overall standards of living. Against this background, C&A is committed to:
- Working towards the elimination of hazardous industrial releases,
- Promoting water stewardship
- Reducing our overall environmental footprint, specifically with regard to greenhouse gas emissions.
By 2020, our collection will feature two-thirds of garments made from more sustainable materials, including 100% of cotton from more sustainable sources with a strong emphasis on organic cotton. In addition, C&A is working on the development of models for Circular Economy and highly innovative samples for closed–loop product design.
Within the global nature of our business, we seek to establish positive relationships with both local communities and broader society wherever we operate. In this context, C&A is committed to encouraging positive socio-economic development through the creation of job opportunities – and through philanthropy. We will do so both through our own operations and through partnerships with the C&A Foundation.
We seek to establish a culture of respect for human rights in all that we do.
- At C&A Europe, the responsibility for the implementation of this policy ultimately resides with the European Executive Board.
- Oversight and monitoring of the implementation of this policy and our human rights due diligence processes resides with the ‘Global Sustainability Committee’ of C&A. This includes the consideration of potential human rights impacts related to key strategic business decisions.
- In order to avoid human rights abuses and to prepare ground for remediation activities, we are maintaining and further developing accessible and fair grievance mechanisms. Internal and external stakeholders (including suppliers, suppliers’ employees, contractors and C&A employees) can report human rights abuses and inadequate labor standards through, for example, our (1) “C&A Fairness Channel”, (2) an external C&A Ombudsman and (3) Customer Service channels.
- Details concerning our implementation strategy and measures, e. g. audits and capacity building in our supply chain, are published in our Global Sustainability Reports, where we report regularly about the progress of implementation.
C&A understands respect for human rights and care for nature as an ongoing and evolving commitment. We strive to continuously improve our human rights performance with particular attention to the specific risks faced by vulnerable groups specifically women, children and migrants. We will continuously review and extend our commitments in relation to the progress achieved and the feedback from internal and external stakeholders and affected groups to this end.
On behalf of C&A Europe,
Düsseldorf, 15.8.2019, signed European Executive Board