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Human Rights

ESG Governance

As described in the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, while governments have a responsibility to protect the human rights of their people, businesses like ours likewise have a responsibility to respect the human rights of people. We want to address potential adverse impacts to people, and this means taking steps to prevent, mitigate and, where appropriate, remediate.

Our North Star

We understand that long-term success starts with a company’s value system and a principled approach to doing business. Frameworks such as the UN’s Global Compact (UNGC) strongly reflect our values, which is why we’re proud to be not just a signatory, but an active participant with the Compact. Of the UNGC Ten Principles that we have pledged to support and promote, the first six concern human rights.

Our own human rights policy is guided by the UNGC, along with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the principles expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (the ILO Core Conventions). Our policy covers employees, suppliers, partners and communities, among others. It includes ethical recruitment practices, diversity, antiharassment, unlawful discrimination, support of women’s rights and equal pay, individual privacy, reporting and antiretaliation policies. Suppliers and business partners are expected to comply with laws on safety, individual security, prohibitions on human trafficking and use of underage children, along with laws that ensure freedom of association and rights to collective bargaining.

GM has a zero-tolerance policy against the use of child labor, as stated in our Supplier Code of Conduct and Conflict Minerals Policy. GM prohibits abusive treatment to employees and corrupt business practices in our supply base. We aim to support indigenous people and the communities in which we work and source material. As stated in this policy, we “seek to avoid inadvertent adverse economic impact attributable to conflict mineral due diligence activities.”

During the second half of 2020 and beginning of 2021, we brought together a cross-functional group to review and strengthen our human rights policy. To inform this work, we reviewed two leading human rights policy benchmarks1 and then examined the human rights policies of 10 peer and leading companies to better understand current practice. We talked through each human rights policy section that was identified in the benchmarks and eventually arrived at full consensus for each, aiming to ensure that our updated policy was, at a minimum, in line with current best practice. We look forward to publishing our updated human rights policy later this year.

Identifying Potential Impacts

In order to effectively prevent and mitigate potential impacts to people, an essential early step is to identify what those potential impacts could be and to prioritize them by determining which are the most severe and most likely. There have been high-quality third-party assessments conducted on the automotive industry as a whole, such as those by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) and Investor Advocates for Social Justice (IASJ), and we believed it was important to create a process that was specific to us. Through this process, we sought to activate and engage leaders from across our entire enterprise and geographic footprint. We believed that engaging with our own people during a series of highly interactive capacity building and exploratory workshops would be an important early step as we work to embed respect for human rights across our business.

STEM Education
Program &
Corporate Giving
Marketing and
U.S. Sales
GM China
Human Resources
Workplace Safety
Diversity, Equity
& Inclusion
GM Financial
Data Privacy & Legal
GM Korea
Labor Relations
Product Safety
Global Purchasing
and Supply Chain,
Including Raw
Materials and Conflict
Minerals Team
Public Policy
GM South America

Over the course of the workshops, our group leveraged the key concepts and framework of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We looked at each category of our value chain and talked through potential impacts, including starting to consider the severity and likelihood of each. We plan to leverage the insights from our workshops to enhance our compliance efforts related to our human rights policies and practices, including with respect to our supply chain.

We view these results from our initial saliency assessment as a critical jumping off point that we will build upon. From here, we will continue to engage with stakeholders, both internally and externally, to further refine and validate our understanding of our potential impacts.

We also recognize that there are limits to our understanding. Potential impacts that are more distant from us in either time or space are by nature more difficult to capture. For example, as we move toward our aspiration of an all-electric fleet of new light duty vehicles by 2035, we recognize that there will likely be impacts to people across our value chain, some of which we can expect and others which may be more difficult to anticipate. This underscores to us the importance of effective, regular stakeholder engagement and of viewing this saliency assessment as an ongoing process with impacts and prioritizations that can and likely will change over time.

Preventing and Mitigating Impacts: Moving Toward Action

Historically, we have relied on extensive trainings as a tool to prevent human rights-related issues from arising, and robust reporting and internal auditing mechanisms to rapidly identify and respond to issues if and when they may arise. As we look ahead, we recognize, however, that there is an opportunity for us to use the findings from our saliency assessment to take a more targeted approach to proactively managing potential human rights impacts.

Over the course of the next few years, we plan to take an honest look at our salient issues to gain additional understanding of the risks and why they are salient, along with what efforts and resources (e.g., new or existing tools, partnerships, information, processes, people, capital, etc.) may be needed to manage them. This will help inform a central piece of our strategy for preventing and mitigating potential impacts.

In addition to, and in parallel with, developing action plans, we intend to focus on building out a robust governance system to enable understanding, ownership and accountability over our salient issues. This means ensuring that the right people internally are empowered to understand the issues and to work on developing and executing on action plans. It also means making sure that we have effective metrics in place to track our progress.

Finally, as noted throughout this section, we see stakeholder engagement as an ongoing process. We value the relationships that we have formed with many of our stakeholders, and look forward to future opportunities to connect, learn and collaborate.