Human rights: acting as a role model and taking action
We take our responsibility for protecting human rights seriously – at GIZ itself, in the projects in our countries of assignment and in our supply chains, too. We also strive to ensure that our supply chains are socially and environmentally sustainable. In doing so, we meet international and national requirements and are preparing for the Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains, which was adopted in Germany in 2021 and will come into force in 2023; a similar law is anticipated at the European level in the years ahead. The main reason we are doing this, however, is because we believe it is the right thing to do given that sustainable structures form the basis of our success.
GIZ employs around 25,000 staff worldwide. It also procures goods and services from across the globe. It has set itself the goal of creating a safe and respectful working environment for all its staff and of maintaining both environmental and social standards in its supply chains – and also has an obligation to do so. The company therefore analysed its work processes and procurement system at an early stage in order to identify any gaps.
On the basis of the results, we took a number of measures in 2021 to mainstream the topic of human rights even more effectively within the company. We have drawn up training documents on our human rights standards for national staff in our countries of assignment to familiarise them with their rights and help them learn how to assert them. Workshops and information events on human rights topics are also organised at individual locations. This is designed to ensure that all staff have access to information and training on due diligence with respect to human rights by 2023.
We are therefore taking account of the fact that the majority of our workforce – some 16,900 employees – are national staff. These include managers, experts and staff in support roles. For the latter group especially, in which the proportion of women is also very high, GIZ has a particular responsibility as an employer. We actively oppose all forms of discrimination, sexual harassment and assaults in the workplace.
Any actual or suspected violations of human rights can be reported to the Compliance and Integrity Unit anonymously through GIZ’s whistleblower portal. In 2021, GIZ updated the portal to ensure a standardised and transparent procedure for processing compliance cases, including response deadlines, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
We confirmed our commitment to human rights and the associated due diligence obligations in 2021 by adopting a Human Rights Policy, which reflects the fundamental importance of the topic for GIZ. This also means that we meet the requirements of the National Action Plan and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The policy will be reviewed every three years and any necessary adjustments made. Detailed goals and measures on human rights and sustainable procurement are also set out in the Sustainability Programme 2021–2025. By 2023, for example, we will be enhancing the effectiveness of the human rights complaints mechanism in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Moreover, we aim to refine the general conditions and processes for sustainable procurement within the company and have these processes certified externally. The necessary policy on sustainable procurement has already been drawn up and implemented. Progress is measured annually through monitoring involving the relevant units within the company.
Information on the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be found on this page: