Human rights


UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Harvard Professor John Ruggie developed a framework which consists of three pillars “Protect, Respect and Remedy”. To “protect” is the duty of the state, to “respect” is the corporate responsibility of companies  and “remedy” is both a shared duty of states and companies  to maintain grievance mechanisms. The “Ruggie Framework” was approved by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 by adopting the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and has received wide support from governments, business and society. As a result, countries have issued a National Action Plan in order to nationally implement the UNGPs.

Right to be treated with dignity

Roche supports and respects human rights and has implemented the UNGPs. We are equally committed to complying with the 10 UN Global Compact Principles; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the Fundamental Labour Rights stipulated by the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This commitment is embodied in our Roche Corporate Principles, the Roche Group Employment Policy, the Supplier Code of Conduct as well as in our Roche Position on Respecting Human Rights.

Human Rights ensure that people have a right to be treated with dignity. By applying the principle of “knowing and showing” Roche is committed to avoid adverse impacts on human rights, by focusing on the perspective of the rights holder. While assessing the impact on the person, we strive to avoid negative impacts on human rights regardless whether they were directly caused, contributed or are linked to our business.

Our Principles

All Roche companies and affiliates respect the following basic principles:

  • Roche condemns all forms of child, forced or compulsory labour. Roche tolerates the employment of juveniles only where their employment is lawful and only under conditions which adequately safeguard their well-being.
  • Roche does not tolerate any form of workplace discrimination based on gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS status, citizenship, generic information or any other relevant characteristic protected under the applicable law.
  • Roche does not tolerate any form of psychological, physical or sexual harassment or any other violation of the dignity and respect of employees in the workplace. Should an employee be subjected to harassment, his or her supervisor or manager has a duty to ensure that it ceases immediately.
  • Roche respects the right of all employees to join a legally recognised employee association and will comply with all laws relating to employee representation. We strive to set up and maintain an open dialogue with employee representatives.
  • Roche is committed to observing all regulations in the area of safety and health at work, not only in respect of all its employees but also in respect of anyone else potentially affected by its activities. Similarly, employees must comply with the applicable safety, security, health and environmental regulations currently in force at Roche.

Embedded in the business and operations

Every Roche site has a human resource contact responsible for ensuring compliance with related Human Resources principles (e.g. discrimination, harassment) as outlined in the Roche Group Employment Policy. All of our operations respect the right of employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Employees can choose to be represented by unions, works councils or similar organisations including the Roche Europe Forum, where employees from every Roche company in Europe are represented.

The basic principles of human rights are trained throughout the Roche Group with a global mandatory eLearning course. In 2016, more than 95% of all Roche employees completed said course.

Our procurement on local, regional and global level is responsible for ensuring compliance with business partners. We assume a duty to engage in careful due diligence on actual and potential business partners and ask these to do the same with their own business partners in order to create transparency throughout the whole supply chain. Due to the high standards, which we requests from our business partners, we do not consider our operations to be at risk of human rights violations.

Further, we conduct sustainability assurance visits at our business critical suppliers with the support of external audit firms, in order to ensure that our suppliers meet our expectations for human rights and other sustainability principles.

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has recognised Roche for our public commitment to human rights.

A cross-divisional working group has established a checklist on Due Diligence for External Business Partners, mainly focusing on agents and distributors. It includes guidance regarding a risk assessment, including a Human Rights Assessment and Implementation Framework.

Human Rights Assessment and Implementation Framework
Human Rights Assessment and Implementation Framework

On a global level, we are systematically identifying human rights, which could be negatively impacted by our business. This includes also the identification of vulnerable groups, being (i) the study subjects in Clinical Trials, (ii) Employees and trade unions, (iii) Suppliers. Human rights issues are prioritised in order to address them properly. We maintain a system of consistent global standards, which we also apply to our business partners, for example, in areas like R&D, clinical trials, manufacturing and distribution. We are in the process to evaluate and establish a similar process on local and regional level.

Reporting human rights violations  

Employees and business partners are requested to speak up and report incidents if they believe in good faith that in connection with a business where Roche is involved someone has done, is doing, or may be about to do something that violates these principles.

Our local, regional and Group Compliance Officers serve as contact for allegations, which than are being reported via the Business Ethics Incident Reporting (BEIR) system to the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO). External business partners can directly contact  the CCO. All allegations are taken seriously and are objectively investigated. If the allegation is substantiated, we take appropriate remedial measures.

In 2016, there were 14 substantiated incidents related to human rights, mainly severe HR violations (such as discrimination), which triggered termination: 13 regarding employees, 1 regarding a business partner)

The CCO reports further details to the Corporate Executive Committee and the Corporate Governance Committee of the Board of Directors.