Lidl has published a new human rights policy addressing some of the concerns raised by Oxfam’s Behind the Barcodes campaign.
The charity’s campaign ranks six major supermarkets annually for their published commitments to upholding human rights in the global supply chain. In the latest ranking, in July last year, Lidl came bottom, dropping two places as Oxfam noted improvements by rivals.
Oxfam was particularly scathing over Lidl’s publicly disclosed practices to tackle discrimination against women, an area where it scored 0%.
The discounter has now signed up to the United Nation’s Women’s Empowerment Principles, a step towards “ensuring gender equality for supply chain workers”, said Oxfam.
It has also committed to publishing a gender policy covering both employees and supply chains by next year.
Among a number of other new commitments, it has promised to carry out three studies a year to assess the impact of its business on human rights, starting with Kenyan tea, Spanish berries and Latin American bananas.
To improve supply chain transparency, Lidl has also published the names and addresses of its direct food suppliers.
“We have appreciated the constructive engagement with Lidl throughout, which we hope will continue,” said Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam ethical trade manager, in a blog.
“It remains to be seen how the company scores on the 2020 scorecard, compared with companies scoring much higher last time such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda-Walmart.”
A Lidl spokeswoman said: “Whilst we have always been of the belief that the scorecard does not represent a wholly accurate reflection of the progress that’s been made by Lidl GB, we welcome Oxfam’s positive comments regarding the latest steps that we have taken and welcome their ongoing engagement with our business.
“Over the past 12 months we have updated our human rights policy, available online, which includes steps such as increased transparency of our food and hardware suppliers, initiatives to work towards living wages within our supply chains and a commitment to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, amongst others.
“We recognise that human rights due diligence is an ongoing process; one that we are committed to developing in the long term to ensure that, together with the wider industry and expert partners, we are continuing to drive further improvements throughout our supply chains, both here and internationally.”