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Amplifying Governance Commitment to Human Rights

People are at the heart of Firmenich’s success and at the core of our values. As a responsible company, we respect international Human Rights standards and are working to assess our impact through our own operations and our business relationships – as an employer, as a purchaser of raw materials and as a member of the communities where we operate.

The world has seen a surge in legislation around Human Rights – from California’s Transparency in Supply Chains Act and the UK’s Modern Slavery Act to the recent French corporate duty of vigilance law. In Firmenich’s home country of Switzerland, the Responsible Business Initiative has called for Swiss-based multinational companies to undertake Human Rights and environmental due diligence. We welcome these developments and see them as opportunities to collaborate, formalize and structure our approach in line with global best practice.

At the start of 2018, we organized a workshop alongside Shift, the leading center of expertise in Human Rights, to identify our salient issues. Employee representatives from different functions participated in constructive discussions on a number of topics, ultimately leading to the formation of a Human Rights Committee, led by our Chief Human Resources Officer.

The first task of the Committee was to issue a Human Rights Policy Statement to outline our position and actions, both in our own operations and in our business relationships. In parallel, as part of our materiality assessment, we engaged with external and internal stakeholders to review issues and provide feedback. The Statement, together with our salient issues, constitutes a robust foundation upon which we are shaping our human rights strategy, focusing our actions and developing new goals and targets beyond 2020. While we are still refining our strategy, next steps include developing training and operationalizing human rights across the business. We are also committed to engaging with the rights’ holders of our salient issues to improve our understanding of those issues and define clear action plans.

Some of our salient issues have also been identified as key priorities in our materiality analysis, including labor standards, diversity and inclusion, and health and safety.


The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 and the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015 (the “Acts”) aim to increase the amount of information made available by manufacturers and retailers regarding their efforts to address the issue of slavery and human trafficking in their own business and their supply chains.

Although not all Firmenich affiliates are subject to the Acts, Firmenich has taken a group-wide approach through its Human Rights Policy Statement, and makes this statement on behalf of all Firmenich group companies.

Firmenich supports the objective of the Acts and strives to be a model company, evidencing strong support of human rights and labor practices across our business activities and throughout our operations.

The Firmenich Fundamentals (the “Fundamentals”) define the values that have been the basis of our company’s culture over our 120 year history. It has always been important for Firmenich that materials used in our products are obtained according to ethical and fair labor conditions. In all countries where we are present, our products are manufactured in facilities that comply with existing local laws. Also, our employees around the world are provided with fair wages, regular working hours, and a clean working environment.

The Fundamentals are embedded in the Firmenich Code of Ethics and Business Conduct and the Firmenich Social Accountability Standard. We therefore make our commitment to fair labor standards clear and reinforce that we expect our suppliers to strictly adhere to this commitment. All our vendors, agents, consultants, distributors, service providers and other Firmenich representatives are required to follow the Fundamentals.

We evidence our support of the Acts by the following (For more information, please consult our Modern Slavery Statement ) :

1. Responsible operations
In the Firmenich Social Accountability Standard (the “Standard”) , Firmenich commits to foster and maintain responsible practices in our operations. The Standard establishes non-negotiable minimum requirements for Firmenich suppliers in the areas of Health and Safety, Labor Rights, and Business Integrity. Firmenich is also a member of Sedex (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange - ), a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to driving improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains. Firmenich has been encouraging all its suppliers to register audit results with Sedex.

2. Due diligence and audits on our suppliers
Firmenich maintains a portal through which our suppliers are required to provide data on the measures they have taken to comply with our requirements. We also regularly audit suppliers using a risk based approach to anticipate issues where possible.

Firmenich reserves the right to verify our suppliers’ compliance with the Firmenich Code of Ethics and Business Conduct and the Firmenich Social Accountability Standard. In the event that Firmenich becomes aware of any actions or conditions not in compliance with our Code or Standard, Firmenich reserves the right to demand corrective measures and terminate an agreement with any supplier who does not comply with the Firmenich Code or Standard.

More information is available on the Sustainable Supply Chains page

3. Human rights in our business activities
Firmenich fully supports the United Nations Global Compact’s principles on human rights and labor and international human rights standards such as the International Bill of Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The Firmenich Human Rights Policy Statement, aims to define our approach and actions in our own operations and business relationships.

Within Firmenich, we work closely with our suppliers to identify and address any actual or potential human rights abuses in our operations and have a dedicated team across the world to ensure that raw materials are sourced to the highest ethical standards.

4. Employee training
The Firmenich Code of Ethics and Business Conduct and Social Accountability Standard are available to all Firmenich employees worldwide, who are periodically trained on these and other topics.


It makes solid business sense to foster a culture that mirrors the diversity of our world and encourages different points of views. Studies on gender diversity, for example, show that companies with a higher proportion of women on senior management teams outperform market peers. With the gender gap not expected to change until 2186, according to the World Economic Forum, decisive action is needed if we are to accelerate this opportunity.

At Firmenich, we are actively nurturing our culture of inclusiveness and diversity across all levels of the company. This starts with our Executive Committee, represented by eight nationalities and with a third of its membership female. Globally, our female colleagues represent 40% of our global workforce and 33% of our senior management.

We are committed to going beyond just closing the gender gap by embedding key diversity performance indicators directly into our programs and processes. We have also formed a compelling range of leadership trainings, cross-generational programs, and succession planning, which focuses on the development and growth of emerging market talent.


Firmenich supports equity and fairness in compensation for similar jobs and performance. A state-driven study on gender-equal pay in Switzerland ranked us in the top-tier as an equal-pay employer in Switzerland, with endorsement from the Swiss Confederation certifying we operate according to Gender Equality Pay Principles. A second study, conducted on our second-largest campus worldwide in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S., revealed similar results. In FY16, we began reviewing our compensation structure globally, using the same external methodology or relying on local governmental certifications when available. Continuing this analysis in FY17, we carefully benchmarked compensation to be consistent with market standards and individual performance, and we globally reviewed all compensation data to be sure that our pay practices reflect our commitment to gender pay equity. Of the 23 affiliates that were studied, 70% showed no significant (<5%) disparity in pay between men and women for similar roles. During the recruitment and salary review processes, gender pay equality is taken into account to ensure we move toward our target of equal pay for equal roles and performance.


On International Women’s Day 2018, we proudly announced our commitment to becoming a 100% certified gender equality employer by the end of calendar year 2018, working with leading global assessment firm EDGE. Going beyond gender pay parity, this certification covers compensation, recruitment, promotion, leadership training, mentoring and flexible working. A survey to assess employee perceptions of gender experiences at Firmenich in 11 countries will help us further embed this work and set appropriate benchmarks going forward.


In 2014, the Sensory team at Firmenich Mexico wanted to foster an inclusive workforce while developing sensory capabilities. To this end, they built an inclusive sensory panel – a group of trained testers who assess products on the basis of taste, smell, or feel.

Sensory panels at Firmenich Mexico were comprised of Firmenich employees from various functions who would dedicate a few hours per week on panel work. In order to develop capacity while putting the Firmenich Fundamentals into action, Firmenich Mexico partnered with Comité Internacional ProCiegos to train and hire visually impaired sensory panelists.

Following the success of the Mexican panel, our London and Mumbai Sensory teams set up similar programs, working with the Middlesex Association for the Blind in the UK and the College of Fragrance for the Visually Impaired in India. Both teams hired their first visually impaired panelists in 2016. Our Singapore and Geneva Sensory teams are currently building similar inclusive panels. From FY14 to FY17, 20 visually impaired people have found employment in one of Firmenich’s inclusive sensory panels around the world.
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