We are committed to respecting human rights and improving living and working conditions throughout our supply chains. Our commitment encompasses any adverse impact on human rights that we might cause, contribute to or are directly linked to.
In order to make a real difference, we have established a wide range of partnerships with organisations including suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, governments, and NGOs. Together we can improve the lives of workers and their families in many different ways; these include promoting better working and living conditions for workers and their families, paying fair wages, empowering women, clamping down on child labour and increasing the transparency in our supply chains.
Responsibility to respect human rights
The ALDI SOUTH Group respects all internationally recognised human rights. Certain human rights aspects are of increased relevance to us as a food and non-food retailer, these include non-discrimination, health and safety, freedom of association, fair remuneration, working hours, prohibition of child labour and forced labour. We work with external experts and utilise the knowledge of our internal teams to review our human rights impact.
Human rights violations are a global problem affecting every economy, industry and sector. We have an important role to play in raising awareness of human rights and working collaboratively with our business partners and other external parties, such as governments and trade unions, to prevent or mitigate the adverse impact of our business or remediate where necessary. Our approach is based upon understanding the complexities of the issues and continually improving the processes that we have in place to prevent negative impacts.
We understand that weak, or lack of, existing legislation and lack of compliance and minimum standards in some countries are not conducive to achieving just and favourable conditions of work and wages, for example forced or child labour. Therefore, we adopt more stringent standards to mitigate the specific risks of rights violations that workers in some sourcing countries face, for example in Bangladesh and Myanmar. We acknowledge the positive role of trade unions in protecting workers’ rights, and that labour rights violations can occur when trade unions are absent or weak. We understand the potential negative impact if trade union activity is restricted.
Human Rights Policy
We have developed an approach that will help us to fulfil our responsibility to respect human rights. In addition to our existing policies, processes and measures, we want to use our influence more effectively in the future in areas where our negative impact on human rights is particularly severe. We have already identified raw materials and products in our food and non-food supply chains that pose a high risk of adverse human rights impacts. In the future, we intend to increase our focus on preventing, mitigating and remedying negative impacts on human rights for those raw materials and products, which we classified as high priority.
The measures we are already implementing in the food and non-food area include the formulation of minimum standards for production, traceability and supply chain mapping, social auditing and certification, integration of CR criteria into the buying process, participation in multi-stakeholder initiatives, beyond audit approaches such as capacity building and projects on the ground.
We consider the access to remedy to be an important part of our responsibility to respect human rights. Grievance mechanisms provide a suitable means of identifying adverse impacts at an early stage. For this reason, we have created grievance mechanism processes for our own employees and business partners. We acknowledge that effective grievance mechanisms are complex to establish and we aim to collaborate, where possible, with other stakeholders to create the most effective process for collating and remediating grievances.
We commit to ensuring that workers in at least three high-priority supply chains have access to a grievance mechanism and remedy as per the UN Guiding Principles definition. We will work to implement a pilot in one of our high-priority supply chains and will use the lessons learned to scale up the access to grievance mechanism and remedy to three commodity groups over the coming years. We will link remediation activities to the grievances identified and will work with our suppliers on corrective actions.
We expect our business partners to comply with our human rights and environmental standards and policies. Many human rights issues are of systemic nature and therefore we collaborate with other stakeholders to increase our leverage and align approaches on human rights due diligence.
Child Labour Policy
We are committed to contributing to the prevention, identification and remediation of child labour in all areas of our operations, including our supply chains. We do not tolerate children being exposed to any risks in productions sites used for our products.
Our 'Child Labour Policy' explains our understanding of child labour in accordance with international standards. The policy states ALDI’s expectations of our business partners to ensure that child labour does not occur at production sites used for our products. It describes the process of what ALDI, together with local expert organisations and our business partners, will do, if a child is found at a production site.
If child labour is found at a production site producing for ALDI, together with local expert organisations and our business partners, we will seek a solution, which is in the best interests of the child and their family. If a child is found to be involved in work in a production facility in Asia, the child is transferred to a remediation programme. Since 2017, we partner with the ‘Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR)’.
Living wage commitment
Working towards the payment of a living income and wage are an important part of a sustainable supply chain. They contribute towards the fight against poverty and child labour and the realisation of other human rights. We recognise that legal minimum wages are sometimes not sufficient to allow supply chain workers and their families a decent standard of living. We also understand that collective bargaining plays a valuable role in allowing sufficient wages to be determined and wage gaps to be closed, and support the adoption of measures by governments to promote collective bargaining between workers and employers.
Food and agriculture supply chains
German Initiative for International Cooperation (GIZ)
As a participant of the “Working Group on Living Income and Living Wages” established by the German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit - GIZ), we want to support and promote the establishment of an income and wage standard that meets the cost of living in the global agricultural supply chains. By joining forces and aligning our approach with others, we aim to increase leverage to maximise our impact and ensure that farmers and workers in global supply chains have a decent standard of living.
The voluntary commitment that we have developed with other representatives from the retail industry plays an important role in this. We are working towards a step-by-step implementation of the living income and wage in selected supply chains, beginning with the implementation of pilot projects. The agreed areas for action include identifying where the gaps are for the living income and wage and implementing sustainable procurement practices with buyers and suppliers. We plan to report annually on our progress in the areas of living wage and living income.
Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH
The Sustainable Trade Initiative ‘IDH’ created a 'Living Wage Steering Committee' together with the ALDI SOUTH Group, and many other businesses. The participating companies in the committee will monitor the implementation of the IDH Roadmap, including the development of tools to measure the living wage gap and approaches to close it.
FAO World Banana Forum’s Living Wage Advocacy Initiative (LIWIN)
We support the FAO World Banana Forum’s Living Wage Advocacy Initiative (LIWIN), which works towards the establishment of living income and wage benchmarks in several banana exporting countries and living income/wage advocacy activities with government, private sector and civil society actors in major European importing countries.
Textiles supply chain
German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
In the context of our membership in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, we actively work on the topic of living wages by being a member of the Partnership Initiative on living wages since 2019. Within this initiative, we are working on the improvement of our purchasing practices as these can have an immense impact on the working conditions and wage payments in production facilities used for ALDI production.
As a first step, we conducted a purchasing practices self-assessment, involving our international buying, design and quality departments. Based on this gap analysis, we have developed a comprehensive roadmap together with our buying colleagues with concrete measures aiming at responsible purchasing practices. Together with other brands we have now established a peer learning group to find solutions for challenges and share best practices.
Support for mandatory human rights due diligence legislation
We want to go one step further to successfully address systemic challenges throughout complex supply chains. Our longstanding commitment and cooperation with various interest groups have shown that the best way to improve working conditions within supply chains is through joint initiatives and partnerships. We support sustainable solutions that require all relevant political, economic and social stakeholders to work together. Therefore, we - alongside 25 other companies, organisations and multi-stakeholder initiatives - signed the statement by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, which supports legislation on human rights and environmental due diligence at European level. The statement can be found here.
In September 2020, the ALDI SOUTH Group and ALDI Nord published their “International Position Statement on Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence Legislation” in order to contribute to realising human rights of all workers along supply chains. ALDI calls for an open dialogue about a mandatory human right due diligence legislation and commits to support the development of future legislation.
Forced Labour Policy
Forced labour affects around 24.9 million people globally, which makes it a central concern for internationally operating businesses. As international companies with global supply chains, the ALDI SOUTH Group and the ALDI Nord Group are aware of their responsibility to respect human rights, and both Groups have implemented requirements and policies to address forced labour and modern slavery in their supply chains. In order to publicly communicate and formalise their commitment to ending forced labour, the ALDI Groups have now jointly published their ‘International Policy on Forced Labour’. The ‘International Policy on Forced Labour’ expands on ALDI’s existing commitments to human rights and underlines ALDI’s stance that any forms of servitude or slavery, or forced, bonded, indentured, trafficked, or non-voluntary labour are unacceptable throughout ALDI’s supply chains. This concerns all relevant stakeholders including all suppliers, production facilities, service providers and contractors.
“At ALDI we recognise our responsibility to respect the human rights of all workers in our business operations and along our supply chains. With this joint policy, we reaffirm our zero-tolerance stance on forced labour and modern slavery, and lay out a detailed commitment to fair and equitable supply chains.“
Anke Ehlers, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility International at the ALDI SOUTH Group
Identification of risks
The ALDI SOUTH Group strives to reduce any adverse impact on human rights that our business operations could have. We use activities such as risk assessments, audits, and supplier assessments to identify the actual and potential risks in our food and non-food supply chains.
Non-food supply chains
We have conducted a risk analysis in all our non-food supply chains to obtain an overview of potential human rights risks. Various sources, including the results of the ALDI Social Assessments (ASAs), third-party audits, assessments of our business partners, media screenings and the BSCI risk matrix, were used to identify the commodity groups that are most at risk of human rights violations. Additionally, we actively participate in a number of multi-stakeholder initiatives and other organisations, which allows us to gather further information. We repeat this analysis every two years to account for changes in economic, social and political conditions in production countries.
Based on our analysis we have identified the following risks at production facility level as the most severe:
- Child labour
- Forced labour
- Threat to workers’ life or limb
- Payment issues
- Financial bribery
- Observed coercion or harassment of workers
- Unauthorised disposal and illegal dumping of chemicals, wastewater, or sludge
Based on the risks in our production countries, we have classified Bangladesh and Myanmar as high-risk countries. For these countries, ALDI has implemented additional minimum requirements that our business partners must adhere to.
Food supply chains
A human rights risk assessment was conducted to examine the human rights risks within our food and agriculture supply chains. The aim of these assessments is to identify any adverse impacts our company may have on human rights, gain insights into our actual impacts and understand where our greatest level of influence is throughout the global supply chains of the entire ALDI SOUTH Group. We understand that the greatest risk of severe human rights impacts lies at the raw material stage but our greatest influence is often at final assembly stage. National ALDI countries provided input on their national priorities where human rights violations are mostly likely to occur. This was combined with our risk assessment findings to determine our final list of priorities. In addition to the assessment by the third-party service provider, we identified fish and seafood and Spanish and Italian produce at raw material level as further high priorities. This was based on internal expertise and dialogue with expert stakeholders.
The raw materials and product groups which present a high risk of adverse impacts on the enjoyment of human rights and are considered most important to the ALDI SOUTH Group in terms of leverage are:
|Raw material level||
|Production facility level||
Indicators for assessment
negative impacts on workers' rights, including; exceeding the permissible working hours, low wages, health and safety risks, workplace bullying, harassment and abuse, discrimination or restricted freedom of association.
assessment of unequal treatment between men and women and the risk of possible gender-specific discrimination, for example, through gender-based abuse or discrimination with regard to wages and working conditions.
the risk that children undertake work that has an adverse impact on their health and development and the risk of work by children of mandatory school age.
refers to modern forms of slavery and human trafficking, for example, by exerting pressure, withholding wages, or other forms of coercion.
|Water scarcity:||the risk that a country's demand for water exceeds its availability. This is accompanied by limited access to a water supply - for personal consumption and/or as a source of income.|
|Climate vulnerability:||assessment of the current and future risk that a certain country is exposed to extreme weather events. In addition, the willingness of the private and public sectors to invest in the necessary modifications was also assessed.|
|Deforestation/land conversion:||the likelihood that products are cultivated on land which was recently a forest area with high conservation value, which may mean that forests were destroyed and land rights violated.|
pollution caused by the manufacturing of products, which then leads to air and water contamination, (chemical) waste and noise pollution.
Mitigation and prevention of impacts
We will focus on the high-priority raw materials and products determined to be of highest risk of severe human rights impacts in the countries of origin, which are most relevant for the ALDI SOUTH Group. We are developing specific measures for preventing and mitigating these impacts. We have already implemented a variety of different measures to mitigate and prevent adverse impacts on human rights within our food and non-food supply chains, these include:
- Employee and business partner training
- Consideration of auditing and certification schemes when making buying decisions and the definition of goals
- Assessment and, if required, exclusion of business partners or growers/producers as a last resort
- Adjustment of our buying processes: human rights-related aspects are already considered during the tender process
- Development of goals and KPIs together with our buying department in order to monitor progress and to identify further actions
- Integration of high-priority products into our Social Monitoring Programme (SMP)
- Implementation of projects in origin countries
- Promotion of human rights within the scope of our ALDI Factory Advancement (AFA) Project
- Review of the effectiveness of the measures taken within the scope of our origin countries and supply chain-related projects
Commitment to smallholder farmers
We work with many different types of business partners, from small, family-run businesses to larger global companies. We understand that there are numerous specific challenges faced by smallholder farmers. Due to many factors beyond farmers’ control such as climate change, unpredictable weather conditions, international energy prices affecting farm inputs, and lack of access to market, it can be a challenge to produce a stable quantity of crops. Farmers often are not able to earn a living income and we recognise that we have an important role to play in facilitating this. We are currently involved in a number of projects and initiatives, which help smallholder farmers and we plan to increase dialogue with and support to them for our high priority raw materials.
Commitment to gender equality
The ALDI SOUTH Group believes that all workers should be treated fairly. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination and commit to achieve gender equality across our own business and supply chains. We acknowledge our responsibility to fulfil the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) number 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls across our own business and supply chains.
We recognise that the majority of workers in many of our food and non-food supply chains are female and that they may be disproportionately impacted by adverse human rights impacts for a number of complex reasons, some of which are country- or sector-specific. As per our recent human rights risk assessment, some of the problems include
- unequal treatment
- sexual harassment
- risk of gender-specific discrimination regarding wages and working conditions
- disproportionate share of unpaid or ‘invisible’ labour
- work at a lower hierarchy level and with low remuneration
- separation from children
- limited access to land, education and/or personal bank accounts.
Identifying raw materials and products with a high risk of gender-based discrimination was a key part of our human rights risk assessment in food supply chains. Our human rights impact assessments will also seek to understand the impact of our operations on women.
In our textiles supply chains, we have identified that many workers are reliant on factory-based childcare services due to financial constraints and a lack of alternative care options. Through our ALDI Factory Advancement (AFA) Project PLUS, we support improving internal childcare offers.
Remediation of impacts
We not only aim to ensure that the negative impact on affected rights-holders is prevented and mitigated, but that it is also remediated. A corrective action plan is defined together with our business partners; this includes an action plan with individualised timelines for improvement and remediation of issues. The type of remedial action will be determined on a case-by-case basis and under consideration of the severity of the incident.
ALDI will closely monitor the implementation of the corrective action plan in order to support our business partners, to ensure the appropriate level of remediation and to allow us to provide feedback on their remediation efforts. The ALDI SOUTH Group may impose consequences, such as warning letters and temporary or permanent termination of business relationships, when business partners are unwilling to take improvement and remediation measures.
We consider child labour to be a particularly severe risk. Thus, the ALDI SOUTH Group has set up a rapid response system in order to be able to react immediately and appropriately if child labour is found in our supply chains. We are partnering with The Centre for the implementation of the process.
The ALDI SOUTH Group recognises the need for workers to have access to grievance mechanisms compliant with the UN Guiding Principles. An essential part of the Bangladesh Accord is an accessible, rights-based and confidential grievance mechanism. In the case of grievances raised by workers through the Accord grievance mechanism, ALDI actively supports the investigation and remediation of findings.
Based on the experiences gained in the successful Accord grievance mechanisms, we are currently taking steps to build up grievance mechanisms in our high-priority supply chains. For that, we are partnering with civil society and industry stakeholders like amfori and the FairWearFoundation.
Human rights impact assessments
We are developing specific measures to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts identified during our risk assessment in 2018. We are carrying out detailed human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) for three high priority raw materials - Brazil nuts, coffee and avocado - to identify, understand and assess the potential and actual adverse effects of our business activities on workers and other affected rights-holders such as community members, smallholder farmers and women. They will be based on background research and engagement with rights-holders in the field. Despite the persisting challenges due to the global pandemic, we plan to publish our results by the end of 2021.
Working together with key stakeholders
We believe that a collaborative approach is the best way to ensure human rights are respected. Therefore, we seek dialogue with rights holders and duty bearers, through our key partnerships and memberships.
Working together with our business partners
We understand that our commitment to respect human rights needs to be reflected in our purchasing practices. We work with our business partners to resolve issues and to drive continuous improvement along our entire supply chains. We understand that, due to the complexity and sensitivity of human rights issues, they may take time to resolve and it is not our approach to cease business with business partners upon identification of such issues. If risks or problems arise, the type of follow-up action implemented will depend on severity of the issue and the willingness of the business partner to enact or assist with prevention, mitigation or remediation.
We commit to maintain dialogue with our business partners, working together to share the responsibility to respect human rights in our supply chains. We will continue to adjust our buying practices to address adverse impacts on human rights. These are already considered during our buying tender process and we actively intensify collaboration with business partners who have demonstrated a good sustainability performance.
Since 2010, the ALDI Social Standards in Production are our definitive standard for cooperation with business partners for our food and non-food products. These standards are contractually binding and prohibit human rights infringements, such as forced labour and child labour as well as discrimination in any form. They also underpin workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. We expect our partners to communicate and implement these requirements, in addition to all legal requirements, at production facilities and implement appropriate remediation measures.
'Beyond audit' approach
We consider third party social audits to be an important first step in gathering information about the human rights situation in our production sites and initiating improvement. We are also aware that they may not always provide a true picture of working conditions and may fail to identify hidden issues such as forced labour, discrimination or harassment.
We therefore commit to adopt an approach to ethical trade that goes beyond compliance and does not rely solely on social audits, complementing our audit approach with additional activity such as our own on-site visits, communication to and training for business partners, production facilities and producers, participation in multi-stakeholder initiatives, capacity building and projects on the ground.
Transparency of supply chains
We attach great importance to sustainable production conditions in the manufacturing of food and non-food products. Supply chain transparency is the foundation for all our sustainability measures. Without the knowledge where our products come from, we cannot ensure compliance with our requirements, analyse risks, monitor or implement projects. We work with our business partners to increase the transparency of our supply chains so that we have a better understanding concerning the origin of every product we sell and the raw materials we use for our products.
In order to offer greater transparency to our customers, we are publishing the addresses and number of employees of all our main production facilities used for the manufacturing of garment textiles and shoes bought by the International Buying department. Production facilities are classified by product groups or country and the information will be updated bi-annually.
We commit to publish information on all relevant tiers for six of our high priority supply chains. We will start with one supply chain and will scale our transparency to six of our high priority supply chains over the coming years. We further commit to start publishing the names and addresses of our direct business partners (tier 1 suppliers) for our food high-priority supply chains in 2021. We will subsequently publish these details for all of our food high-priority supply chains by the end of 2022.
In order to offer their customers a higher transparency for products, ALDI SOUTH Germany and HOFER have established traceability platforms. With the help of a QR code or a tracking code on the packaging, the respective product can be traced back to its origin.
Visits & Assessments
Engagement with affected stakeholders is key for identifying potential human rights risks and adverse impacts. As part of our engagement, we regularly visit and assess production sites together with our business partners in our food and non-food supply chains. During our audits, we regularly engage with workers by conducting worker interviews.
Working together with key partners
Supporting Global Goals
The ALDI SOUTH Group believes that the best impacts can be created via collaboration. We support partnerships and collaborate to improve the livelihoods and working conditions along our supply chains.
Sustainable Development Goals
The ALDI SOUTH Group is aware of our responsibility as one of the world‘s most successful retailers. Our international structure, our market position, our decades of experience, and the daily commitment shown by our employees provide us with the potential to make important contributions in increasing sustainability across our markets and within our supply chains.
We consider the UN Sustainable Development Goals within the scope of defining our goals and have incorporated them within our selection of sustainability-related topics. We promote the achievement of these global goals by participating in initiatives and implementing a range of sustainability policies.
UN Global Compact
In August 2017, the ALDI SOUTH Group was the first discount food retailer to join the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). By joining this initiative, we have committed to implementing the UN Global Compact's ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption as part of our corporate strategy and within the scope of our daily business operations.
Sustainable Supply Chains
Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI)
In line with our responsible sourcing strategy to mitigate adverse human rights impacts of our business activity, the ALDI SOUTH Group was accepted as a Foundation stage member of the ETI in 2019. ETI is a global alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights. Our Social Standards in Production are aligned with the ETI Base Code.
amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (amfori BSCI)
For over 40 years, amfori has been the leading global business association for open and sustainable trade. Its mission is to support each of its members to enhance human rights, use natural resources responsibly and drive open trade globally. It brings together over 2,000 retailers, importers, brands and associations.
amfori is run by Board of Directors representing the member’s interests from different countries and businesses. In June 2019, Anke Ehlers, Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility International of the ALDI SOUTH Group, was elected to the Board of Directors of amfori to represent ALDI SOUTH and ALDI Nord internationally. This shows the continuing dedication of ALDI to enhance sustainable development in our global supply chains.
The ALDI SOUTH Group is also an active member of the amfori Project Group ‘Social Issues in Food’ which unites retailer and producer members of amfori to tackle shared social and environmental issues in the food sector. A representative from ALDI SOUTH chairs the group.
Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex)
Sedex is one of the world’s leading ethical trade service providers, striving to improve working conditions in global supply chains. Sedex provides practical tools, services and a community network to help companies improve their responsible and sustainable business practices, and source sustainably. ALDI UK is part of the Sedex Board.
German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
ALDI SOUTH Germany became a member of the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (German: Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien) in 2015. This multi-stakeholder partnership is committed to improving social and environmental conditions in the global textile production.
Green Button initiative
The ‘Green Button’ (German: Grüner Knopf) is a voluntary label established by the German government that identifies textiles that are produced in a sustainable way. Labelled products meet 26 minimum requirements for social and environmental standards in textile production. Since 2019, ALDI SOUTH Germany and ALDI North have used the ‘Green Button’ to label textiles that have been produced in a socially and environmentally friendly way. With our participation in this initiative, we emphasise our commitment to promoting sustainable textile production to our customers.
Our Memberships & Partnerships
We believe the best way to protect the people and the planet is through joint initiatives and partnerships. For this reason, we engage in various multi-stakeholder initiatives.
Sustainable Development Goals
Support and respect the protection of human rights
Not complicit in human rights abuses
Uphold freedom of association and recognition of right to collective bargaining
Elimination of forced and compulsory labour
Abolition of child labour
Elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation
Work against corruption in all its forms