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 2022 we published our latest Anti Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement, and followed-up on our group-wide human rights due diligence assessment and the resulting action plan we had created for 2022-2023.
- We published our 7th Modern slavery and Human trafficking statement.
- We followed up on the action plan resulting from our Aviva-wide human rights impact assessment 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.
- Our comprehensive business ethics, human rights and modern slavery training is rolled out annually to specialist staff to regularly increase awareness about the modern slavery and human rights risks. Human rights are also part of Board training plans. In 2022 we trained 461 colleagues in Business and Human Rights and Modern Slavery.
- Partnerships: we renewed our membership with Slave-Free Alliance to continue our commitment to addressing the risk of modern slavery in our operations and supply chains. Together as ‘critical friends’, we reviewed our approach to supplier remote audits, enhanced our current supplier assessment methodology.
- We began a partnership with Business for Responsibility (also known as BSR), a sustainable business network and consultancy focused on helping companies improve their sustainability practices. BSR will help us better understand our human rights impacts and identify the most salient issues across our operations and value chain.
- As we are very keen to collaborate with charities and social enterprises to support modern slavery victims and survivors and have started to select some partners. This year we have supported the work of Ride For Freedom CIC1, a not-for-profit social enterprise which uses cycling to provide remedy to survivors to give them confidence, independence.
- 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 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.
1 Aviva partnered to support the delivery of the Freewheel West Midlands Hub that empowers service users to cycle, through the provision of bikes, accessories and training, this helps with their rehabilitation with positive impact both on their mental and physical health.
Externally and in our supply chain:
- We continually enhance our work with key suppliers. We conducted modern slavery threat assessments on a range of key suppliers, selected based on their potential modern slavery risks. In 2022 we completed 11 assessments, including checks conducted remotely via self-administered questionnaires and face to face. We also started to work more closely with our joint venture, Aviva Cofco in China, conducting some ESG desktop checks on some of their high-risk suppliers.
- 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 invested in, and insured, businesses involved in 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.