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Human Rights and Social Compliance

Human Rights and Social Compliance

Human Rights and Social Compliance

Strategy & Approach

We believe that all workers should be treated with respect and in accordance with our workplace and human rights standards. We strive to foster a culture of integrity that supports our employees in living out these values and promotes a workplace where all are treated with respect.

Our Human Rights Policy and Code of Conduct establish Kimberly-Clark’s ethical expectations, creating accountability across key issue areas. These expectations extend beyond our corporate walls to encompass our suppliers’ employees and workplaces as well, as communicated through our Supplier Code of Conduct.

Social Compliance Standards

Our policies guide our interactions with suppliers, partners, customers, and consumers worldwide, and our expectations that suppliers operate similarly are communicated through our Supplier Social Compliance Standards. Centered on our values, these standards are an extension of our expectations of our own people and are aligned with principles such as the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Our Supplier Social Compliance Standards are driven by the belief that good corporate citizenship is essential to our long-term business success and must be reflected in our relationships and actions in our workplaces and the workplaces of those who are authorized to supply our business.

We expect our suppliers to develop and implement appropriate actions to promote and confirm compliance with these standards.

Salient Human Rights

The objective of our social compliance standards is to proactively manage salient human rights risks across our supply chain. By holding ourselves and our suppliers accountable, we promote safe, fair and equitable working conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers in our supply.

Kimberly-Clark’s Supply Chain Human Rights Governance Committee consists of senior representatives from our sustainability, procurement, external contract manufacturing, legal, labor relations, and human resources functions well as from Kimberly-Clark’s regional organizations. The Committee meets quarterly to identify and address emerging human rights issues and escalations.

In 2020, our Supply Chain Human Rights team, in consultation with approximately 50 diverse internal stakeholders, conducted an assessment of potential salient human rights risks within our supply chain. Those prioritized risks are in the following areas:

  •  Modern Slavery (including child and forced labor)
  •  Occupational Health and Safety
  •  Discrimination and Harassment
  •  Wages and Benefits
  •  Indigenous and Land Rights
  •  Access to Water and Sanitation
  •  Environmental Impacts (including climate change and post-use waste)

Our annual Modern Slavery disclosure outlines the steps Kimberly-Clark has taken to combat slavery and human trafficking globally. Operations and suppliers assessed to have elevated human rights risks are prioritized for additional due diligence.

Supplier Audits

We believe strongly that working with suppliers to improve their practices is the most effective way for us to improve the lives of the people working in their facilities.

To promote compliance with our standards for social and environmental performance by our manufacturing facilities and key suppliers, we engage third-party auditors. They use a risk-based approach to measure compliance across key issue areas including child labor, forced labor, discrimination, workplace health and safety, and business integrity.

Our audit program assesses more than 150 facilities annually in high-risk geographies and industries, helping us identify noncompliance and drive improvements. To help avoid audit fatigue among suppliers, we adhere to the principle of mutual recognition and may accept recent audit reports that have been completed by accredited audit firms utilizing internationally recognized standards.

When a supplier is found to be noncompliant with our Social Compliance Standards, Kimberly-Clark engages with the supplier to develop a corrective action plan. Depending on the concerns raised, corrective actions may include supplier investments in infrastructure, equipment, or training; development of new policies or procedures; or provision of remedy for affected workers. If needed, Kimberly-Clark may provide support to the supplier by sharing good practice examples, connecting them with consultants, encouraging engagement with human rights experts or other resources. We track completion of the agreed corrective action plans through evidence provided by the supplier and/or through a follow-up audit.

By working closely with suppliers to improve social compliance practices, we strengthen our relationships and help to build long-term strategic partnerships. This not only allows us to have greater confidence that human rights are being respected across our supply chain, but also helps to drive innovative solutions that meet our consumers’ and customers’ needs, creating value from source to shelf.

Freedom of Association & Collective Bargaining

We respect our employees’ right to freedom of association, including the right to independently decide whether they want collective bargaining through representatives of their own choosing, the right to engage in other protected group activities, and the right to refrain from such activities.


Published May 2023