Promoting human rights across our operations

Holcim seeks to understand, prevent or mitigate any risks to people from its operations and business activities. Regular human rights assessments – and detailed impact assessments – are a key part of our due diligence to avoid harmful impacts on people.

As a company which operates in many sites globally, we need to understand the complexity of risks to our employees, contractors, suppliers and communities.

We acknowledge risks may vary according to the nature of the business activity and the human rights risk levels of the country or region determined in our Human Rights and Social Policy.

In 2021, Holcim had human rights assessment processes, including defined action plans, embedded across all the countries where we operate. The assessments cover operations and legal entities managed by a country, including local subsidiaries and supply chains. Action plans are put in place to deal with any potential or actual issues and are supervised by sustainability specialists, the country CEO and management team.

Holcim started carrying out Human Rights Impact Assessments the same year the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which lays considerable emphasis on the need for due diligence to prevent, mitigate and, where necessary, to remediate human rights harms.

Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) are carried out in high risk countries at site level for cement plants and grinding units, and also other sites as required. These in-depth investigations typically last at least four days, and contain more than 50 areas for investigation, which are often linked to Holcim’s salient human rights risks. They require careful preparation, and involve a wide range of internal and external stakeholders to identify risks and impacts, as well as gaps in existing mitigation measures. Another key area relates to the availability of grievance mechanisms, how substantiated grievances are remediated, and whether aired grievances can potentially be an early warning system pointing to other issues that may surface at a later date.


Training and clear processes are key to carrying out an effective HRIA and subsequent corrective actions under the Group-wide action plan. Workshops have to be carried out with country management prior to a country or site assessment. The impact assessment is carried out by a trained facilitator who may be accompanied by an external specialist, sometimes from a different country or the Group, to ensure impartiality.

More details can be found in Holcim’s Human Rights Directive.