Human Rights

Ensuring commitment to human rights at Siemens. We consider the respect of human rights an integral part of our responsibility as a global business.
Introduction

Human rights and sustainable value creation

Siemens adds value to society in nearly every country in the world through our products and solutions, sustainable and responsible business practices, thought leadership and strategic partnership activities, and targeted community initiatives. Our activities directly and indirectly affect huge numbers of people. We are aware of the responsibilities resulting from this global impact and fully accept our responsibility to ensure respect for human rights in our activities worldwide. For us, this is a core element of responsible business conduct and therefore an integral part of our “Business to Society” concept. 

Our basic attitude

"We respect the personal dignity, privacy, and personal rights of every individual. We work together with individuals of various ethnic backgrounds, cultures, religions, ages, disabilities, races, sexual identity, world view and gender." This principle is firmly anchored in our Business Conduct Guidelines. They set forth the fundamental principles and rules governing the way we act within our company and in relation to our partners and the general public.

Policies and Commitments

International conventions and recommendations

In addition to local laws and statutory requirements in individual countries, there are several important conventions and recommendations issued by international organizations. They are primarily directed toward member states rather than individual companies. Nonetheless, they also serve as guiding principles for global companies as well as for the behavior of their employees. Siemens endorses the stipulations contained in these conventions and recommendations. Their basic principles are reflected in our Business Conduct Guidelines.

Commitment to international standards

Siemens has been a participant of the Global Compact since 2003, and regards the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact, as well as the rules laid down in the framework agreement of the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), as binding for the entire company. Otherwise, the company’s internal arbitration arrangements apply. Furthermore, Siemens is committed to implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as the global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse human rights impacts linked to the company’s business activities within our value chain. 

Siemens therefore expects its employees, suppliers and business partners worldwide to recognize and apply the following guidelines:

Responsibility

Our guidelines and principles

Building on our Business Conduct Guidelines, we have defined the respect of human rights in additional guidelines and principles. Our focus is on fundamental employee rights, the code of conduct for our suppliers and third-party intermediaries, and the handling of conflict minerals in our supply chain.
Materiality survey 2019

What is your assessment of our human rights challenges?

Siemens operates in almost 200 countries. We have business contacts with well over 100,000 suppliers in more than 150 countries. As an international technology corporation, our focus is on electrification, automation and digitalization. This is evident from our businesses.

 

We are aware that, through our business activities, we may potentially compromise human rights or be implicated in human rights violations committed by others.

 

We regularly assess the risks of potential human rights infringements throughout the value chain of our company. Your opinion is important to us: where in the Siemens value chain do you see the potential for infringement of human rights? How serious do you consider this potential to be? We want to and will consider your assessment in our evaluation.

Human rights survey

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Materiality survey for
human rights

Misuse of data
Unlawful data collection or storage by third parties (violation of privacy)
Health and safety violations
(in our own operations)
Unhealthy working conditions and inadequate work safety in our own operations (e.g. from harmful emissions or work accidents)
Health and safety violations
(in projects or in the supply chain)
Unhealthy working conditions and inadequate work safety on construction sites or in the supply chain (e.g. from harmful emissions or work accidents)
Danger from security personnel
Excessive use of force or abuse from private or state security forces (e.g. in connection with an infrastructure project)
Modern slavery
(in our own operations)
Exploitation of workers – in particular, through short-term contracts – who are victims of human trafficking, forced labor, child labor or sexual exploitation
Modern slavery
(in projects or in the supply chain)
Exploitation of workers – in particular, through short-term contracts – (e.g. by contractual partners or other project participants), who are victims of human trafficking, forced labor, child labor or sexual exploitation
Detrimental impact on the population
(of our own operations)
Damage to local communities in connection with the construction or operation of a site (e.g. impact on children on their way to school from increased heavy-vehicle traffic)
Detrimental impact on communities
(of projects)
Damage to local communities, minorities or indigenous people by the purchase and use of land in the scope of a project (e.g. through resettlement, shortage of arable land) or through impact on religious or cultural heritage
Detrimental impact on the environment
Adverse effects caused by environmental damage in the course of infrastructure projects (e.g. contamination of local waterways) and restrictions on access to drinking water
Product misuse
Infringements caused by improper use of a product or solution for illegal or unethical purposes (e.g. torture)
Unsafe products
Danger to operators of products or to indirectly affected third parties, such as local residents (e.g. through a technical incident at a factory)
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Irresponsible handling of AI or other digital technologies
Irresponsible handling of artificial intelligence, robots and digital technologies which directly or indirectly increases the risk of human rights violations (e.g. the right to work, the right to safety, the right to life, the right to education)
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Violation of basic workers’ rights
(in our own operations)
Adverse impact on employees in our own plants (e.g. through payment below the legally required minimum wage, unpaid overtime or discrimination in the work place)
Please type 3-30 characters.
Special characters aren't allowed despite "-" and "&".
Violation of basic workers’ rights
(in projects or in the supply chain)
Adverse impact on employees of other companies in the course of projects (construction sites) or in the supply chain (e.g. through payment below the legally required minimum wage, unpaid overtime or discrimination in the work place)
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Special characters aren't allowed despite "-" and "&".
Degree of severity
The degree of severity indicates how serious the detrimental impact on human rights may be and how difficult it might be to counteract.
Probability
The probability indicates how high the risk is that Siemens will either cause or be implicated in a violation of human rights.
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Controversial projects

Siemens holding statements

Companies that are involved in big infrastructure projects run the risk of being criticized for their participation in projects that are facing allegations with respect to human rights violations. For the purpose of transparency we comment on the allegations we are facing.

Siemens is indirectly involved in wind park projects in the Western Sahara territory via Siemens Gamesa, a strategic majority holding company of Siemens. We are aware that the region of Western Sahara is disputed under public international law. The United Nations has declared the zone as a “non-self-governing territory” since 1963. We support the position of the international community and the UN, which have expressed hope for a peaceful resolution to outstanding issues. Siemens does not take a stance or make judgments on issues of international public law.

 

We continue to monitor closely the local developments in the field of human rights in alignment with our ambitions to respect of human rights. We believe that people in local settlements and communities genuinely benefit from a sustainable improvement to the energy infrastructure, in particular with renewable energy projects. According to Siemens Gamesa’s “hire-locals-first” policy, Siemens has been ensured that the hired local workforce has been collaborating peacefully and respectfully. Siemens Gamesa is also investing in targeted community projects, such as local health, clean drinking water, access to energy and educational projects.

 

For all projects located in Western Sahara, SGRE (Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy) examines the admissibility of its potential participation based on applicable law and international human rights standards. Siemens and SGRE are committed to the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises. In line with this commitment as well as in the light of on-going business activities in the region, Siemens AG and SGRE are currently looking into initiating an independent and conclusive impact assessment for the wind park activities on the occupied territory of West Sahara.

Due to ongoing technical investigations, no work is currently being carried on construction of the Hidroituango hydroelectric power plant. Siemens has been involved in this project as supplier of transformers, switch gear and other electrical equipment.

 

In the Siemens Sustainability Information, we report on our own Due Diligence in project management, which follows the UN guiding principles for business and human rights as well as the guidelines of the OECD. Siemens evaluated its participation in the project – also with regard to legal requirements and official approval processes. As in all cases, Siemens is closely following the development of the project – in contact with our customer. In our opinion, our customer is fully engaged with these developments in the context of the project – this includes close cooperation with government agencies in the scope of official procedures.

 

Should work on the Hidroituango hydroelectric power plant continue, Siemens will contact other parties involved in order to initiate action, if necessary, for the people (potentially) impacted by this project.

Siemens had been involved in the Agua Zarca water power project in Honduras via Voith Hydro, a Siemens minority interest. With growing concern, Siemens observed the increasing tensions with regards to the Agua Zarca water power project in Honduras. As a result, in 2016, Voith Hydro stopped deliveries to Honduras, and in 2017, Voith Hydro ended its support of the project. Siemens explicitly welcomes this decision – and also welcomes the criminal investigations undertaken by the local authorities, which we are monitoring very closely. We condemn any form of violence.  Foto: Fernando Antonio/dpa-picture-alliance 

 

External dialogues & peer group learning

Collaborative Dialogues

Human rights issues can be challenging to identify and complex to prevent or mitigate. Open and constructive dialogs with peer-group companies help us discuss progress, challenges and solutions and identify potential for joint action. We believe this will enable us to go faster than we could go alone. In this context, we have joined the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI) and the European Business and Human Rights Peer Learning Group of the Global Compact Network to collaboratively discuss pathways to advance human rights in a business context through cross-industry peer learning, outreach and capacity building.