Promoting human rights at Tesco

Promoting human rights at Tesco

Group Position Statement. Last updated 11/04/2019

As a global retailer we have a responsibility to respect the human rights of, and an opportunity to make a difference to, our colleagues, our customers, the communities we operate in and the people who work throughout our supply chain.

We are committed to upholding human rights and support in full the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Conventions on labour standards, working hours and health and safety for workers. To demonstrate our commitment to high standards and transparency in our business, we have joined the UN Global Compact; an initiative for companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. The initiative is centred on ten principles and we report our progress against these ten principles on a regular basis.

To support our commitment to diversity in the workplace in our operations and supply chains, we are signed up to the 30% Club, the Women in Finance Charter, the Tech She Can Charter, and were one of the first companies in the UK to report publicly on our Gender Pay Gap. We have also recently committed to uphold the UN Standards for Business to tackle discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Intersex People and the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles.

Below we outline our approach to respecting and supporting human rights for colleagues, those in our supply chain, as well as customers and communities.


The wellbeing, security and safety of our colleagues is of utmost important to us a business. We make the right decisions for colleagues by living our value - to treat everyone how they want to be treated. We deliver our human rights policy for colleagues in line with local culture and labour laws, whilst ensuring we address any actual or potential adverse impacts our colleagues may experience whilst working for us. We promote a culture of trust and transparency through:

  • Promoting inclusivity and equality. We value the diverse nature of our workforce across the group and do not accept any discriminatory practices or behaviours. Our employment decisions are made solely on the basis of job-related skills, achievements and performance, which is illustrated in our local diversity and inclusion policies as well as our code of business conduct.
  • Ensuring that working environments across the business do not endanger the health or safety of our colleagues. Looking after our people’s health and wellbeing through enabling safe working environments and ensuring colleagues do not work excessively is a minimum requirement. To support this, we provide health & safety training, have a clear policy position on working hours, and provide protective equipment for colleagues wherever required. Details of which can be found in our Health and Safety policy.
  • Enabling colleagues to have a voice through our fair and trusted methods of resolving concerns. We recognise the importance of trusted and open dialogue between us and our colleagues to create relationships which are built on mutual trust and cooperation. Our relationship with our recognised trade union, Usdaw, in the UK helps to strengthen this dialogue by having a shared agenda at consultation working parties and colleague national forums.
Supply chain

Building strong partnerships with trusted suppliers will ensure that we deliver high-quality and safe products that are responsibly produced. As a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), we have long been aware of the potential for labour and human rights abuses to occur in our supply chains but also our opportunity to help create good jobs that enable people to care for their families and develop their skills. We recognise that it is our responsibility as a business to respect and enhance the rights of people in our supply chains in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights.

Our starting point is the Base Code of the ETI, which covers the health and safety of workers and prohibits forced labour, child labour and human trafficking. Upholding the Code is one of the requirements for our suppliers of doing business with Tesco. Our suppliers are required to communicate our requirements along their supply chain and to relevant stakeholders.

We are committed to working with trusted supplier partners to apply this Code and to identify where human rights impacts may occur. Our team of 45 locally-based responsible sourcing managers work with our suppliers, NGOs, trade unions and other groups around the world to address human rights impacts and improve working practices.

If human rights issues are identified, we will seek to address them and understand the root causes of these abuses, working with suppliers, and other stakeholder groups to drive improvement.

We know that many of the serious abuses that exist in countries around the world can be in lower tiers of supply chains, hidden from easy sight and hard to identify – particularly forced labour. Addressing these requires collaborative efforts with other businesses and civil society. We have committed to working to eradicate forced labour from our supply chains and have taken on a leading role through our membership of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to develop this work.

Governance and monitoring

Oversight of our human rights work sits with the Board’s Corporate Responsibility Committee for all markets and subsidiaries. Executive oversight sits with the Group Risk and Compliance Committee, led by the Group CEO. Our governance committees consider financial and non-financial risks to our business and, in particular, consider risks related to our Human Rights Policy which are maintained on our company risk register.

All Tesco Group human rights commitments, and our approach to managing human rights, are approved by our Group Quality Director. On a regular basis, and at least annually, the Group Risk and Compliance Committee reviews performance and updates on our supply chain human rights covering all human rights issues associated with sites supplying Tesco, key risks in our extended supply chain and actions to mitigate risks and remediate issues. The Corporate Responsibility Committee of the PLC Board also receives regular updates on this and wider sustainability issues. Key elements of our Human Rights Policy are incorporated into our Code of Business Conduct which is reviewed and updated where necessary once a year.

Everyone in the business must comply with the Code and colleagues in office roles, along with store and distribution managers, are required to make an annual declaration of compliance. Our established ‘Protector Line’ is a free professional, confidential and secure service that enables our colleagues, suppliers and their staff to raise any concerns that the Code is not being adhered to via telephone and email. Issues are recorded, investigated and where necessary action is taken.