Supporting the human rights and anti-modern slavery agenda
Our human rights policy sets out the Group’s commitment to respect human rights and identifies the key stakeholders and issues for our business.
In 2021 we published our latest Anti Modern Slavery Statement, and we conducted a Group-wide human rights due diligence assessment to create our action plan for 2022-2023.
- We conducted an Aviva-wide human rights impact assessment, which reviewed market level risks and opportunities in areas related to employees and customers including governance and investments. The review was across our core markets in the UK, Ireland and Canada, and our strategic investments in India and China. We have done this work together with our expert partner The Slave Free Alliance.
- We analysed results and created group wide action plans.
- We ensure, that human rights practice is aligned across the Group, despite local differences (e.g. legislation) and that markets’ individual risks are addressed. Our comprehensive business ethics, human rights and modern slavery training is rolled out annually to staff to regularly increase awareness about the modern slavery and human rights risks. Human rights are also part of Board training plans.
- Aviva Investors integrates human rights and modern slavery risks into its investment process. This includes assessing whether companies are meeting their responsibilities in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including conducting robust human rights due diligence and engaging with affected stakeholders. This work is an ongoing process: every year we set out our expectations of companies in our annual Chair letter, including on the subject of human rights. We also engage directly with companies both on an individual basis and alongside other investors as part of collaborative industry efforts, on human rights practices and management of salient human rights issues. Where we consistently see a lack of progress we have publicly committed to voting against company directors at company AGMs. In 2021, we voted against 85 companies due to human rights concerns. In 2022, we also wrote to Governments as part of our sovereign engagement plan, and for the first time set out our expectations on the subject of human rights, calling on Governments to strengthen National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights.
- We continue to outline our commitment to respect human rights approach in our policies and guidelines, including The Aviva Human Rights Policy, which is evaluated each year. In 2021 we improved key sections regarding human right risk screening and our responsibility to use our influence to proactively promote human rights. We plan on demonstrating our commitment through our actions and improved policies and standards year on year.
Externally and in our supply chain:
- We continually enhance our work with key suppliers. We have refreshed our Supplier and Third-party Code of Behaviour and continued to engage them on the topic of human rights.
- We conduct modern slavery threat assessments on a range of key suppliers, selected based on their potential modern slavery risks. In 2021 we completed 12 assessments, including checks conducted remotely via self-administered questionnaires. No cases of modern slavery were discovered at Aviva, neither in our operations or supply chain, however corrective action plans were issued to all the suppliers to support and improve their capability. We continued to invite our suppliers to access our comprehensive human rights and modern slavery training at no cost, and to consider joining the Living Wage Foundation.
- Finally, we use our influence and connections to bring others together and enhance the industry’s wider understanding of, and impact on human rights. Moreover, we continue to work with the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) on the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB).
Reflecting on our history
We can trace Aviva’s history back over 300 years to 1696. Given our long heritage, it is likely that Aviva’s ancestor companies insured people or property involved in or enabling the slave trade. This is unacceptable now and should have been unacceptable then.
We should not deny or erase what happened in the past but we can and should apologise. We deplore any such connection, regret any association with an evil trade and are sorry for any involvement in the pain and suffering. We also can and must ensure it does not happen in the future.
Today, we have a commitment to ensure there is no modern slavery in our business or supply chain and Aviva stands alongside those battling injustice and hate. Our ambition is to have a truly diverse and inclusive culture that enables everyone to be themselves and to thrive, no matter their background. As part of this, Aviva is supporting charities that support racial equality and diversity.