Human rights

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 1, 1948

Roche respects and proactively supports Human Rights.

1. Our Commitments

“Protect, Respect and Remedy” are the three pillars of Harvard Professor John Ruggie’s framework which was approved by the UN Human Rights Council and adopted in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in 2011.

Roche fully supports and implements the UNGPs, and is equally committed to supporting:

  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • The 10 UN Global Compact Principles
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

This commitment is embodied in our Roche Group Code of Conduct, the Roche Group Employment Policy, the Supplier Code of Conduct and in our Roche Position on Respecting Human Rights.

To fulfill its corporate social responsibility, Roche is committed to delivering continuous improvement and maintaining best practice at a policy and process level, as well as in its management approaches.

2. Our Impact on Society

For more than 120 years, both in our own operations and our value chain, Roche has in many ways fostered human rights globally. Within our sphere of influence, we are proactively focussing on improving global human rights by doing no harm and making an impactful contribution.

By applying the principle of ‘knowing and showing’, Roche is committed to avoiding adverse impacts on human rights by focussing on the perspective of the rights holder.

Roche Position on respecting Human Rights

3. Our Operations

Risk Assessment

We have implemented a risk management program designed to systematically identify, assess, mitigate and adequately manage the risk of human rights violations. The four identified top risks are:

Roche also expects of its suppliers and other business partners to comply with all laws and regulations, relating to the above mentioned risks.

Embedded in our operations

We embed human rights in our existing operations and daily business by multiple means:


(i) Benchmark
Within and beyond Industry.


(ii) Assess the actual and potential human right risks
Within Roche and while doing business with our business partners.


(iii) Increase awareness
Local and global initiatives; 98% completion rate of global eLearning course.


(iv) Foster due diligence
Inclusion of human rights aspects in the due diligence of business partners.


(v) Enhance legal framework
Having solid agreements in place with our business partners.


(vi) Collaborate in collective actions
Together with our peers we foster human right protection (e.g. as member of Pharma Supply Chain Iniatitive (PSCI).


(vii) Transparent communication
Via multiple internal and external channels.

All Roche departments and functions are contributing to respect and protect Human Rights. For example does every site has an Human Resource contact supporting compliance with related principles, such as discrimination and harassment, as outlined in the Roche Group Employment Policy.

4. Our Collaborations

We conduct a risk-based due diligence on actual and potential business partners, such as distributors, suppliers and service providers. Our expectations of them are basically the same as those that we have for ourselves. In order to enhance transparency and within our sphere of influence, we also expect them to carefully check their own business partners.

Human Rights aspects are an integral part of the due diligence undertaken at Group and Affiliate level, this includes by way of example:

  1. Global Guidance & Checklists
    on due diligence process, including how to develop and implement it for local markets. More specific toolkits have been elaborated on regional level.

    Human Rights Assessment and Implementation Framework

  2. IT Tools
    supporting a consistent end-to-end process, which allows for systematic and periodic repeated due diligence and risk assessments.
  3. Robust third party risk management
    embedding risk identification, monitoring and management processes throughout the supplier lifecycle.

Roche uses a scalable risk algorithm to identify suppliers with a high potential for human rights violations. The algorithm focuses on the following four main risk factors: Country, Industry, Proximity to Roche and Reputation. It also factors in the vulnerable population (identified as children, underage workers, migrants, indigenous peoples, local underprivileged communities and people with low levels of education).

By working collectively with the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI), we have enhanced our existing supplier labour and human rights risk assessment program in order to create an audit program for the identification of human rights violations.

Further, we have enhanced the human rights risk process to identify potential issues amongst our critical supplier’s suppliers (“critical tier 2 suppliers”). We did not receive any reports about critical findings among tier 2 suppliers.

Further information and how Roche focuses on suppliers with whom Roche spends 25% or more of their revenue: Suppliers & Service Provider Website.

5. Our Reporting

Employees as well as business partners are encouraged to speak up if they believe in good faith a human right violation has occurred.

Our local and regional Compliance Officers serve as contacts for allegations, which are then reported via the Business Ethics Incident Reporting (BEIR) system to the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO). Potential Human Rights violations, especially of our suppliers, can also be identified by the Procurement department.

All allegations are taken seriously and are objectively investigated. If the allegation is substantiated, we take appropriate remedial measures.

In 2019, there were 8 substantiated incidents related to human rights, all of them related to discrimination and harassment. Out of 8, 7 were Roche internal, and one Roche external, i.e. by a Roche business partner. All of those cases triggered a termination (7 Roche employees, one business partner).

We measure the compliance of our suppliers with our human rights standards through remote and onsite audits, our Supplier Sustainability Assurance Visit (SAV) program. In 2019:

  • We conducted 50 SAVs at 50 Suppliers (8 in Europe, 9 in EEMEA, 18 in APAC, 1 in North America and 14 in LATAM).
  • We had 102 Human Rights related observations, such as excessive overtime and inadequate pay of social benefits.
  • We elaborated for each of the 50 suppliers a corrective action plan (find an example here).

detailed list here


Sustainability Assurance Visits 2019 - Number of Human Rights Findings per Country