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Dec 10, 2021

Philips Human Rights Report 2021 - turning policy into action to protect human rights inside and outside the company

Estimated reading time: 2-4 minutes

With the advent of COVID-19, the last two years have seen human rights coming under increasing pressure around the world. As early as April 2020, just a few months into the pandemic, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared that the COVID-19 pandemic was not only an economic and social crisis but also “a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis”. One and a half years on, the current inequity in access to COVID-19 vaccines between the developing and the developed world has proved that to be true. Yet it remains a fact that even before the pandemic, half the world’s population still lacked access to essential health services.

Unless positive action is taken now by governments, business, and society at large, global inequity could get worse. Geo-political tensions, political polarization, and climate change all have the potential to disrupt healthcare systems and displace communities, depriving more people of the right to good health and many other fundamental human rights - economic, social, and cultural - that underpin civilized society. Philips is determined to help prevent that from happening.

“Our purpose is to improve people’s health and well-being through meaningful innovation with the aim of improving 2.5 billion lives per year by 2030,” said Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips. “As such, addressing human rights is a key element of our ESG strategy – not just in terms of our aims, but also in terms of transparency and accountability in our ESG action plans and reporting. Our Human Rights Report provides an overview of our initiatives aiming to respect every individual’s human rights, not only within Philips, but also across our value chain and the wider societies we serve.”

Clear plans

To mark this year’s United Nations Human Rights Day, which has the theme of ‘Equality: Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights’, Philips is publishing the Philips Human Rights Report 2021 - an update on Philips’ progress in addressing key human rights over the past year, along with the company’s plans for continuous improvement. The report covers a broad range of areas, including Philips’ approach to and governance of human rights, its general business principles on integrity and its company-wide communications strategy to ensure all employees are aware of them, and its grievance mechanism. It details the ethical and social principles that govern the company’s relationship with its employees, such as prohibition of child, bonded or forced labor, the receipt of a living wage, freedom of association, and freedom from discrimination, as well as its approach to addressing the human rights of individuals throughout the company’s value chain.

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Positive action

Aware that actions speak louder than words, the report includes real-world examples of how Philips’ human rights policies and strategies are being enacted - typical examples being the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, expansion of its human rights impact assessment program, and practical results of its Supplier Sustainability Performance program. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philips mobilized its resources to deliver on the triple duty of care: fulfilling critical customer needs, ensuring the health and safety of employees, and ensuring business continuity. Its human rights impact assessment program, which was trialed in Indonesia with very positive results, has been rolled out to five manufacturing sites in China, covering 4,000 employees. As a result of its participation in the Dutch Responsible Gold Agreement, Philips co-developed a project with several other parties, including civil society actors, to facilitate responsible sourcing of gold from Uganda. The company’s Supplier Sustainability Performance program has already improved labor conditions, reduced the risk of serious injury, and mitigated the environmental impact of participating suppliers.

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As a 2007 signatory to the UN Global Compact on sustainable and socially responsible policies, Philips has a long-standing belief that companies have both the responsibility to respect human rights and the ability to protect them. Today’s publication of the 2021 Philips Human Rights report adds to the information contained in the company’s Annual Report, adding detail to policy, outlining plans for continuous improvement, and highlighting practical examples of Philips’ progress in addressing human rights issues.


Click to download the full report.

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Ben Zwirs

Ben Zwirs

Philips Global Press Office

Tel: +31 6 1521 3446

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