Respect human rights

28 Mar 2024
Human rights are inherent to the dignity of human life and a prerequisite for society to prosper. As a global company, we work to uphold human rights within our organization and across our value chain.
Human rights landscape
At PMI, promoting, protecting, and continuously working to embed human rights considerations into our company’s strategy, policies, and business practices is not just the right thing to do; it also helps anticipate current and emerging legal requirements and minimizes our financial exposure and the risk of supply chain disruptions. It creates the basic environment and conditions in which our business can thrive and create value, by recognizing, respecting, and protecting our right holders, including our employees and workers across our value chain.

Our approach

Across our value chain, we aim to minimize our adverse impacts and maximize opportunities to drive positive change. Establishing a strong foundation of respect and integrating into our organization mechanisms that promote and protect human rights are essential components of our approach to business. While maintaining these high standards can be challenging given the breadth of our operations and the scope and complexity of the issues we encounter, we believe safeguarding human rights is an absolute and universal requirement—which we are committed to upholding. 

We seek to place rights-holders—those individuals and communities whose rights could be impacted by our operations or business relationships—at the center of all we do. We work to continuously improve our due diligence with respect to identifying and addressing current or potential risks and impacts across our value chain and ensuring the responsible procurement of materials and services. To succeed in this endeavor, we expect our suppliers to commit to respecting human rights within their businesses and we seek to collaborate with them, either individually or through multi-stakeholder initiatives. 

Our efforts to respect, promote, and protect human rights underlie many of the activities and programs described throughout this report. A dedicated cross-functional team at our central operations coordinates our approach, which is grounded in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and centered on four pillars: 

A sound policy framework: Our work is governed by PMI’s Human Rights Commitment, which is complemented by other PMI policy instruments such as our Code of Conduct, Responsible Sourcing Principles, Marketing Codes, and Good Agricultural Practices. Awareness-raising and training help us embed those instruments and an ethos of respect for human rights within our corporate culture. 

Rigorous due diligence: We have robust programs and processes in place to identify our adverse impacts across our value chain; these include our enterprise-wide assessment, human rights saliency mappings, and human rights impact assessments (HRIAs), in addition to targeted due diligence programs focused on specific areas of potential risk such as our tobacco and electronics supply chains. We complement these programs with external assessments and verifications. 

Remediation: We implement measures to address adverse impacts and maximize opportunities to drive positive change for people across our value chain. We seek to collaborate with civil society organizations, governments, and the private sector to design and deploy impactful solutions. Wherever adverse impacts occur, we strive to ensure affected individuals have access to grievance mechanisms and effective remedies in line with the UNGPs. 

Transparency: A complex and international value chain carries the potential for human rights risks that we need to understand, manage, and continuously address. Reporting transparently on our progress and the challenges we face through our annual reporting and targeted communications is vital to our approach. 

PMI’s Human Rights Report

In 2023, we published our inaugural Human Rights Report, detailing our strategy to respect, promote, and protect human rights and our progress to date in implementing our Human Rights Commitment, first published in 2017. This report incorporates a preliminary analysis of disclosures on our work on human rights and considerations of the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework (UNGPRF), which enables companies to report meaningfully on their human rights performance.

Reinforcing our Human Rights Commitment

We uphold our Human Rights Commitment, which articulates our pledge to respect human rights in all our operations and business relationships. 

To ensure knowledge and implementation of our Human Rights Commitment, we have included it in our company-wide Business and Human Rights e-learning which is available in multiple languages including Bahasa, English, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. These represent the most widely spoken languages by our workforce. 

In 2023, we held an internal event dedicated to raising awareness on human rights topics across our organization. The event offered an overview of our human rights strategy, and shared two market case studies stemming from our human rights impact assessments: One focusing on ethical recruitment in our electronics supply chain in Malaysia and the other one addressing overtime issues in primary and secondary distribution in Mexico. Beyond educational, the aim of the event was to encourage an open conversation on the role employees can play in such an important area. 

Advancing human rights through multi-stakeholder partnership 

In line with PMI’s Human Rights Commitment and Responsible Sourcing Principles, the Security & Market Safety team was invited to collaborate with the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA). This non-profit organization governs human rights standards in the private sector security industry. 

Our engagement focused on ensuring all PMI Security & Market Safety personnel are trained on the human rights components applicable to security, specifically prevent misuse of force and ensure appropriate working conditions for all third-party security personnel deployed at PMI sites; and codifying these requirements as contractual obligations for key suppliers delivering security services. 

Assessing human rights impacts across our markets

To strengthen our due diligence framework, proactively identify risks, and mitigate potential adverse impacts along our operations and value chain, we have set an ambition to conduct human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) by 2025 in the 10 highest-risk countries in which we operate. Our HRIAs are carried out by independent expert organizations and follow a formal process aligned with the UNGPs. They result in tailored action plans, which we implement, monitor, and report on. 

In 2023, we conducted an HRIA in Pakistan, one of PMI’s highest-risk markets. This marks our eighth assessments since 2018 (read more here). 

An innovative feature of this HRIA was the incorporation of a gender lens into the assessment. Conducting a gender-sensitive HRIA recognizes that human rights risks can affect groups of people in unique and intersecting ways and considers the impact of particular risks facing people of different genders. For example, people who identify as female or as part of a gender minority often experience discrimination in the workplace and are also more likely to work in less secure positions. With a gender inclusive approach, the assessment considers human rights risk management from a gender perspective. Moreover, it enables the development of recommendations to address particular risks, and provides support to ensure women’s rights can be consistently respected in the company’s operations and supply chain. 

In addition, in late 2023, we initiated a follow-up assessment from the HRIA conducted in 2020 in Mozambique. This assessment, to be completed in 2024, will include extensive engagement with our local supplier to assess initiatives and systems in place to manage risks, as well as field visits to validate progress since the previous assessment through participatory techniques with farmers. A particular focus will be given to priority risk areas such as child labor, treatment of women, migrant workers, climate change, the impact of the pandemic, and grievance mechanisms. 

Regarding past HRIAs, action plans have been fully implemented in Mexico, the Philippines, and Russia. We also continued monitoring the implementation of actions recommended by previous HRIAs in Mozambique, Turkey, Brazil, and Malaysia


Conducting a gender-inclusive human rights impact assessment in Pakistan 

In 2023, we completed a human rights impact assessment in Pakistan, our first gender inclusive HRIA. This work covered our operations in the country, the manufacturing facilities we use, and our leaf supply chain. We worked with the local team to develop a robust action plan to tackle findings. 

Read the case study here.

Human rights impact self-assessments 

In addition to conducting HRIAs in PMI’s highest-risk countries, we introduced a self-assessment tool in 2021, which we piloted in 2022. The tool is intended to help low- and medium-risk markets identify salient human rights risks within their organizations, and develop action plans to address them.

Leveraging the learnings from these pilots, we further developed our self-assessment model in 2023, accounting for the inputs of our network of sustainability experts across our markets and our human rights consultant Article One. Streamlining the toolkit was welcomed by those who use it, and the revised version is less complex to use while also including practical supports to aid successfully conducting UNGP aligned self-assessments in low- to medium-risk markets. 

Our revamped self-assessment is based on pre-populated templates that guide users through a step-by-step process, spanning from project planning right through to integration of results (including, for example, guidance on prioritizing potential salient risks to human rights, illustrative examples to assess risks, and supports for internal engagement). Upon completion of the self-assessment, markets in scope will work with the country management team to integrate learnings and develop an action plan, when needed. During the year, we organized dedicated training sessions with over 60 sustainability coordinators across our markets to foster understanding and usability of the toolkit, and to build capabilities. 

The toolkit was tested in Germany in late 2023, and, while the work is still ongoing, initial feedback was very positive on the usability and the guidance provided. 

Continuous reinforcement of our human rights framework 

We conducted a GAP analysis in 2023 with the support of our human rights consultant, Article One. With this project, we assessed PMI’s human rights related policies, procedures, and due diligence process against an agreed selection of upcoming and emerging regulatory standards. This in-depth GAP assessment has enabled us to evaluate how PMI’s current framework aligns with the higher requirements in such instruments and to surface potential gaps and opportunities for further improvements. In 2024, we will reflect on this extensive work, which will guide the refinement of our global strategy on human rights and processes to progressively align with applicable due diligence and related reporting standards. 

Strengthening human rights due diligence in our supply chain 

We continue strengthening all our due diligence programs (through our ALP program in our agricultural supply chain, and through RBA in our electronics supply chain) to ensure that we identify potential and actual human rights impacts and build and deploy corrective action plans to address them (read more in the Managing our supply chain sustainably section of this report). 

Grievance mechanisms

Providing access to remedy to potentially impacted stakeholders relies on the provision of an effective grievance mechanisms both for our operations and across our supply chain. This is a core element of our human rights due diligence approach, aligned with the UNGPs. At PMI, we maintain clear policies, run regular training, and work to ensure that robust processes are in place to encourage individuals to speak up if they become aware of any suspected potential or actual violations of law, our Code of Conduct, or any of our policies. 

As an example, in 2023, we trained over 10,000 employees on PMI’s new Responsible Sourcing Principles, reinforcing the importance of speaking up in our organization. 

For more information on the grievance mechanisms we offer at PMI to encourage individuals to ask questions, raise concerns, or report instances of observed or suspected misconduct, see the Business ethics and integrity section of this report. 

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This online content about our Integrated Report should be read in conjunction with PMI’s Integrated Report 2023. This report includes metrics that are subject to measurement uncertainties due to inherent limitations in the nature and methods for data collection and measurement. The precision of different collection and measurement techniques may also vary. This report includes data or information obtained from external sources or third parties. Unless otherwise indicated, the data contained herein cover our operations worldwide for the full calendar year 2023 or reflect the status as of December 31, 2023. Where not specified, data comes from PMI financials, nonfinancials, or estimates. Unless explicitly stated, the data, information, and aspirations referenced in online content do not incorporate PMI’s wellness and healthcare business, Vectura Fertin Pharma. Regarding the Swedish Match acquisition, completed late 2022, unless otherwise indicated, online content does not include information pertaining to their sustainability performance. Please also refer to "This report at a glance" on page 2 of PMI's Integrated Report 2023 for more information. Aspirational targets and goals do not constitute financial projections, and achievement of future results is subject to risks, uncertainties and inaccurate assumptions, as outlined in our forward-looking and cautionary statements on page 214. In PMI's Integrated Report 2023 and in related communications, the terms “materiality,” “material,” and similar terms are defined in the referenced sustainability standards and are not meant to correspond to the concept of materiality under the U.S. securities laws and/or disclosures required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 

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