Ahold Delhaize Brings a Fresh Focus to Human Rights

Ahold Delhaize Brings a Fresh Focus to Human Rights
The food retail chains aims to set a higher standard for human rights in world of commerce.

The ongoing pandemic and global protests against racial injustice are making 2020 a year for the history books, and food retailers are using donations, free meals and other means to respond to these events. The latest example comes from Ahold Delhaize, which on Monday said it had released its first “Human Rights Report.”

The chain said that it wrote the report after consulting with people inside and outside the company. In the report, Ahold Delhaize said it “has identified six salient human rights issues that it will focus on as initial priorities, followed by six additional relevant issues. Furthermore, Ahold Delhaize is strengthening its governance to ensure human rights are fully embedded within its strategy and to support the brands as they ensure that the protection of human rights is an integral part of their business activities.”

The report is inspired by a broader UN humans report framework, the food retailer said, and centers around such issues as “human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, and has been incorporated in our sustainable retailing strategy.” Ahold Delhaize said it plans to provide in its annual reports updates on its progress regarding human rights and how they are applied to its business operations.

“2020 is an historic year of unprecedented events arising from the COVID-19 outbreak and the worldwide protests in support of racial justice and equality,” said CEO Frans Muller. “These events once again make us realize that, as a global retailer, we play a pivotal role in society. We have a big responsibility to set the right example and help dismantle structures that systematically disadvantage some and advantage others.”

The leaders of food retail operations increasingly are speaking out against racial injustice and pressure increases for corporations of all types to choose sides as the protests continue, and to lend support to people who have taken to the streets to fight racism. Earlier this month, for example, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen delivered a video message via social media and the company's website to speak out against racism and what he called the "senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Teylor and Ahmaud Arbery."

 Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food retailers in North America.

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