Respect for Human Rights

Striving to respect the human rights of all stakeholders affected by our business activities, we are promoting a wide range of global-scale measures.

Management Approach

Basic ConceptStriving to Respect the Human Rights of All Individuals Affected by Business Activities

At Sekisui Chemical Group, we consider it our duty to advocate for the human rights of all people affected by our business activities. Nowadays, the enaction of rules and laws related to human rights continues to progress both inside and outside of Japan, and human rights issues are getting increasing attention in society. In these conditions, we consider human rights initiatives for not only employees of the Group but also our business partners and other stakeholders to be essential for solidifying our sustainable management platform.

Human Rights Policy FormulationNewly Formulating Sekisui Chemical Group “Human Rights Policy”

Sekisui Chemical Group began formulating Sekisui Chemical Group “Human Rights Policy” in October 2018. Subsequently, we established a new Human Rights Policy in May 2019 after implementing a human rights risk assessment and securing approval at a meeting of the Board of Directors. This policy has been disclosed in the June 2019 CSR Report.
Unlike the earlier Sekisui Chemical Group Personnel and Human Rights Policy, which mainly focused on Group employees, the new Human Rights Policy is different in that it proposes to firmly respect human rights across the board, including the value chain beyond the Group, in compliance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Going forward, we will work to achieve an understanding of and instill this new Human Rights Policy among all employees of the Group, as well as our suppliers and business partners.

Actions in regard to the UK Modern Slavery ActThe Sekisui Chemical Group Modern Slavery Statement

Sekisui Chemical Group previously released a statement in regard to the UK Modern Slavery Act through a UK Group company, but we formulated the Sekisui Chemical Group Modern Slavery Statement in September 2019 in recognition of the need for the group as a whole to take action in regard to human rights issues.
The Sekisui Chemical Group Modern Slavery Statement is pursuant to section 54 (1) of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and sets out the actions taken by Sekisui Chemical Group to prevent any form of modern slavery or human trafficking in any part of the Group’s business or within its supply chains.

Sekisui Chemical Group will continue to take appropriate measures to comply with human rights laws and regulations in countries and regions that are relevant to our operations.

Launching initiatives to build a human rights due diligence* framework

Sekisui Chemical Group in November 2018 launched initiatives aimed at building a human rights due diligence framework.
As a first step, we took the following measures to identify potential human rights risks within the Group.

  • (1)
    Employing a specialized agency to assess human rights risks in primary business activities
  • (2)
    Based on the risk assessment results, conducted Internal interviews with staff members of the Group

Moving forward, we intend to conduct on-site interviews at production sites in Japan and overseas to confirm that working environments for employees are satisfactory and to assess the degree of impact from the identified potential human rights risks.

  • Human rights due diligence is the ongoing management process of identifying and assessing any potential negative impact on human rights (human rights risks) from a company’s business activities, and if there are human rights risks, the process of creating mechanisms to prevent or mitigate the impact from such risks.

Identifying Human Rights Risks Within the GroupEmploying a Specialized Agency to Assess Human Rights Risks in Primary Business Activities

In November 2018, we employed an external specialized agency (Verisk Maplecroft*1) to conduct a human rights risk assessment among the primary business activities of Sekisui Chemical Group. On the basis of 10 human rights issues, this agency calculated a human rights risk score for four industries, namely Homebuilder, Auto Parts, Industrial Machinery and Goods, and Pharmaceutical. Moreover, the results, which take into account the risks of each country in which Group companies are located, confirmed that Sekisui Chemical Group business activities, particularly overseas (China, India, Thailand, Brazil), held a potentially high risk of human rights violations in terms of occupational health and safety, etc.

10 Human Rights Issues in Primary Business Activities

  • (1)
    Child labor (2) Fair wages, (3) Fair working hours, (4) Discrimination in the workplace, (5) Modern slavery*2 (6) Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, (7) Rights of indigenous peoples, (8) Rights relating to property, assets, and housing, (9) Occupational health and safety, and (10) Right to privacy
Industry Priority Country (Latent) Priority Issues
Homebuilder Thailand
  • Modern slavery
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Fair wages
Auto Parts China
  • Fair wages
  • Modern slavery
  • Occupational health and safety
Industrial Machinery and Goods China
  • Occupational health and safety
Pharmaceutical China
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Right to privacy
  • *1
    A risk analysis and research corporation with a global perspective and knowledge of human rights, economic, and environmental risks.
  • *2
    The definition of slavery in the modern era as established in the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. Primarily refers to (1) slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labor, (2) human trafficking, and (3) exploitation (sexual exploitation, organ harvesting etc.).

Identifying Human Rights Risks within the GroupImplementation of Internal Interviews Based on Risk Assessment Results

Since February 2019, we have been implementing interviews of related internal staff with third parties (Caux Round Table Japan*). By carrying out these interviews regarding countries with high latent risks identified in human rights risk assessments and with staff at the Group who have experience stationed in Thailand, China, and India, as well as related internal departments, we confirmed whether there was any gap between the assessment results and actual business conditions at the Company.
Interview Results

  • Awareness of safety at overseas production companies is high and safety activities have taken hold
  • Positive conditions such as a lack of discrimination toward immigrant laborers, foreigners, and women working there were identified at the Group companies involved in the interviews
  • Although headquarters-led CSR procurement survey are implemented for suppliers, no supplier checks were performed from the perspective of human rights at the site level
  • Some overseas production companies have factories that use a large number of temporary workers (fixed-term employees)

As per above, some of the findings indicated issues requiring further confirmation of on-site conditions.

We accordingly plan to conduct interviews at our production sites in Japan and overseas in fiscal 2020 with the aim of listening to the opinions of our employees to confirm if our business activities are adversely impacting human rights and to better understand how seriously those rights are being impacted. We will then work toward addressing the issues made clear during the interviews and conduct follow-up assessments as we build our human rights due diligence framework.

  • *
    A non-profit organization with a network of a variety of CSR initiative organizations both inside and outside of Japan and extensive experience with support programs for initiatives to reduce human rights risks within corporate supply chains

Business Activities That Respect Human RightsDeepening Understanding of Human Rights, Implementing Business Activities That Respect Human Rights

Along with its suppliers, Sekisui Chemical Group engages in business activities that respect human rights as part of its obligation to all stakeholders. All Group employees are provided with a copy of the Company’s Compliance Manual. We have set strict standards for respecting human rights, prohibiting discrimination, preventing harassment, and protecting personal information. We conduct training and e-learning sessions for employees about the prevention of all forms of harassment. We work diligently to raise the understanding and awareness of such issues among all of our employees.

Preventing HarassmentConducting Educational Programs for the Purpose of Preventing Harassment

In order to prevent power, sexual, maternity, and other forms of harassment, Sekisui Chemical Group continues to cover harassment prevention as part of its compliance educational programs during employee rank-based training, including new employee and newly appointed manager trainings. In this way, we provide knowledge for preventing harassment tailored to each rank and position. We also periodically provide harassment training as part of field-based educational programs.

Assessing the Human Rights Situation at Our SuppliersCaring About Human Rights Issues Across the Entire Supply Chain

Through CSR procurement with our suppliers, we make sure our business partners respect human rights. In order for our suppliers to understand the Group’s procurement policy, including respect for human rights, we have produced English and Chinese translated versions as well as the Japanese version and are promoting the process of making procurement policies available in a variety of languages, such as by posting them in Japanese and English on our websites.
With regard to suppliers that do not meet the prescribed standards, a request is made to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to resolve any issues. Sekisui Chemical Group works together with suppliers in the implementation of appropriate measures. We are making progress with the development of mechanisms, designed specifically for our overseas business partners and suppliers, to encourage improvements via our regional headquarters.
We are currently focused on confirming procurement policies with our direct business partners but are also working to build a mechanism to ensure understanding throughout the entire supply chain, including at secondary and tertiary suppliers by taking into account the opinions of outside experts. As for the disclosure of results, we are considering what measures we should take, while we ask our partners to understand the importance of CSR awareness.
We are also considering endorsing and participating in accredited supply chain initiatives in order to further improve the quality of human rights due diligence.

Major Initiatives

Engagement with External Stakeholders

Sekisui Chemical Group in May–July 2019 took part in a Stakeholder Engagement Program* in which participants with differing backgrounds, including those from corporations, NGOs and NPOs, and academia exchanged opinions in order to promote human rights due diligence. After listening to questions being raised from NGOs, NPOs, and academic experts, participating companies identified and discussed important human rights issues in various industries, using the human rights guidance tools developed by the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).
We also engaged in individual dialogue* with overseas experts in October 2019, speaking with four specialists in human rights, including a global value chain expert from India, as well as experts from the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Benchmarking Alliance in regard to Sekisui Chemical Group’s initiatives in human rights. The discussions included advice from these experts as to how the Company could best develop its related activities moving forward.
Through the incorporation of external opinions obtained here, we will continue to promote human rights initiatives on a systemic basis in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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Individual dialogue with overseas experts

  • The Stakeholder Engagement Program and the individual dialogue were both organized by Caux Round Table Japan.

Initiatives Geared Toward SuppliersConducting CSR Procurement Surveys

Guided by its procurement policy, Sekisui Chemical Group has been conducting surveys focused on social responsibility, environmental conservations, and the human rights considerations of our partners since 2007.
We began inspections of overseas group company partners in fiscal 2015.
In fiscal 2019, we implemented CSR procurement surveys for the partner firms of Sekisui Chemical Group companies in the EU to get a better understanding of the status of human rights-related initiatives. We were accordingly able to confirm that no major human rights infringements, including child labor and forced labor, occurred at our major suppliers.

Initiatives Geared Toward EmployeesImplementing Human Rights Training and Education

Sekisui Chemical Group conducts training and educational programs focusing on the theme of human rights for its employees. In this manner, the Group is endeavoring to engage in management that takes into consideration concerns regarding human rights.
We incorporate content that raises awareness about human rights issues, such as forced labor, child labor, harassment, etc., in particular in training carried out at career milestones, such as when joining the Company or upon promotion.
The compliance manual for domestic group companies and the global compliance manual for overseas group companies outline respect for human rights and measures for the prevention of harassment. In addition, training programs that aim to prevent all forms of harassment are held every year, with 867 individuals taking part in fiscal 2019.

Addressing the Issue of Conflict Minerals“Conflict Minerals Survey Guidelines" Put into Effect

Sekisui Chemical is concerned about the conflict mineral problem, namely the mineral resources controlled by armed forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries that commit human rights violations and destroy the environment. We conduct surveys on the use of conflict minerals at companies throughout our supply chain from a CSR perspective.
We put our “Conflict Minerals Survey Guidelines” into effect in April 2017. These guidelines were newly formulated for each Group division* responsible for receiving survey requests for conflict minerals from suppliers and for conducting the surveys.
In fiscal 2019, we conducted 619 conflict mineral surveys at Sekisui Chemical's Urban Infrastructure & Environmental Products Company, High Performance Plastics Company, and the Group companies of each. We were unable to identify any conflict minerals or smelting facility uncertainties among the surveyed companies.

  • For the quality control department of each divisional company factory and the quality control departments of affiliated companies or affiliated company factories