Social standards

We assume social responsibility within our supply chain

Two construction workers, one with a Delizio shirt.

Through our business activities, we can have a positive impact on people along the entire value chain. Aware of our responsibility, we work continuously to systematically strengthen the anchoring of human rights in our procurement practices.

Relevance of the topic

Respect for human rights is one of our core corporate values. We are aware that our business activities make a difference for people along the entire value chain. We therefore focus our business activities on avoiding, mitigating or ending negative impacts on human rights. In line with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, we are constantly working to systematically strengthen the anchoring of human rights in our procurement practices.

Based on a comprehensive human rights risk assessment, our due diligence focuses on avoiding, mitigating and ending actual and potential negative impacts along our supply chains. In line with Swiss legislation on due diligence and transparency, special attention is also paid to the issue of child labour in our due diligence and reporting. Other issues that we are actively promoting include improving the livelihoods of producers’ workers, protecting vulnerable people, preventing forced labour, freedom of association and ensuring workers have access to grievance mechanisms.

Anchoring within the company

Human rights due diligence along the supply chain is strategically anchored in our Migros Group Requirements. These stipulate that suppliers must recognise the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct. The Migros Group Requirements are part of our Group-wide sustainability strategy.

In Cooperative Retailing, we have also set ourselves strategic goals for auditing social standards in the supply chain. Further, principles are laid down on how to address potential conflicts of interest between sustainability and procurement requirements in individual cases. In addition to compliance with the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct by our suppliers, this includes the role of sustainability in procurement decisions and appropriate lead times for orders.

More about our sustainability governance

  • The amfori BSCI Code of Conduct in detail

    Icon for opening or closing

    The amfori BSCI initiative aims to improve social conditions in global supply chains and was co-founded by us in 2003.

    The amfori BSCI Code of Conduct, as well as the associated documents and tools, are based on various internationally recognised instruments, including the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

    The following are regulated by the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct:

    • Social management system and cascade effect

    • Environmental protection

    • Ethical business conduct

    • No precarious employment

    • No debt bondage, forced labour or human trafficking

    • Special protection for young employees

    • No child labour

    • Occupational safety

    • Reasonable working hours

    • Appropriate remuneration

    • No discrimination, violence or harassment

    • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining

    • Employee participation and protection

    New suppliers must agree to the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct in writing when entering into a business relationship. If a similar internationally recognised standard or code of conduct is already being implemented by the partner, it will be reviewed and accepted as equivalent where appropriate. All requirements and procedural steps are made available to suppliers and regularly updated.

    Our impact

    We strive for a partnership of equals with our suppliers. Where necessary, we work together to continuously improve working conditions in production. The empowerment of employees and the further training of factory and farm managers are particularly important to us. A key focus is ensuring the responsible treatment of employees and resources.

    • Independent audits

      Icon for opening or closing

      In Switzerland, legal foundations and their effective implementation are crucial for safe and socially acceptable working conditions. Unfortunately, compliance with these standards is not guaranteed everywhere in the world. Authorities in poorer countries have insufficient resources to effectively monitor and ensure compliance with labour laws at operating sites. In addition, there is sometimes a lack of political will, for example in countries with authoritarian regimes. By applying internationally recognised standards such as amfori BSCI, we ensure that minimum social requirements are met in the manufacture and cultivation of imported products from at-risk countries and sectors.

      We are aware that commitment to the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct alone is not enough. That is why we organise a large number of inspections, so-called amfori BSCI audits, carried out annually by independent third-party companies at production facilities. amfori BSCI pursues a development approach with the aim of continuously improving the situation for workers in factories in the long term. We are also a member of the International Accord. This agreement promotes the safety of employees through independent inspections, remedial measures and training programmes involving employees.

      If an upstream supplier receives unsatisfactory results during an inspection, this does not automatically mean that we will stop working with this business partner. In cooperation with our direct business partner, the upstream supplier must rectify the shortcomings and show us how they have improved the situation in the factory for the benefit of their workforce – more on this under Measures. Only if upstream suppliers are uncooperative and do not make any improvements will the business relationship ultimately be terminated.

      • Agriculture in Europe

        Icon for opening or closing

        In the agricultural production of fruit and vegetables, there is also room for improvement in terms of working conditions among European producers. That is why we are calling for the implementation of GRASP (GlobalG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practices), a testing system for improving social practices in agriculture, in countries such as Spain and Italy. The new version (GRASP V2) with even more demanding requirements for producers and a stricter rating for the test reports has been in implementation since 2024. There is a particular focus placed on the areas of forced labour and worker involvement by means of employee representation.

        • Targeted supply chain inspections

          Icon for opening or closing

          In addition to independent audits by third parties, our specialists also carry out their own inspections to gain an overview of the conditions on site. This enables us to verify the contents of previously commissioned audit reports in accordance with the Four Eyes Principle. As with the amfori BSCI standard, the aim is to review the situation on site and initiate measures to improve working conditions where necessary. Producers with small order quantities or few employees can also count on the support of experienced specialists, for example from Migros’ procurement offices in Hong Kong, Delhi or from the head office in Zurich.

          • Wild-caught fish: self-declaration for business partners

            Icon for opening or closing

            In order to meet the increasing expectations and binding regulations on corporate due diligence for human rights and the environment, we require our suppliers of wild-caught fish to sign a self-declaration. With this document, the suppliers undertake to provide us with information about the entire value chain up to the fishery and to evaluate possible risks regarding working conditions in the fishery. Based on a sampling system, the Social Standards department has been conducting in-depth evaluation meetings and risk assessments since October 2022. In these meetings, suppliers with high risks are asked to implement risk reduction measures or make adjustments in the supply chain.

            • Complaints channels in the supply chain

              Icon for opening or closing

              Speak for Change: Human rights grievance mechanisms offer us the opportunity to understand our supply chain more accurately. To provide effective remedy to affected workers and stakeholders, amfori has introduced the Supply Chain Grievance Mechanism (SCGM) programme, known as amfori Speak for Change. This programme gives a voice to those affected in our supply chain and enables solutions through independent investigation, remediation and collective leverage. amfori Speak for Change is currently active in Vietnam, Turkey, Bangladesh and India. Roll-out in other countries is planned.

              Appellando: In Spain, the cooperative retail trade is committed to establishing the Appellando complaints channel, a help line for workers in the Spanish agricultural sector. While an audit only takes place at a certain point in the year, a help line is available to workers around the clock, all year round. We developed Appellando in collaboration with other retailers under the umbrella of the EHI Retail Institute. Founded in summer 2023, the complaints mechanism aims to provide a communication channel in Italy as well as Spain.

              M-Concern: The Migros Group also fulfils its duty of care through the M-Concern reporting office, which suppliers can use to contact us directly. With M-Concern, the Migros Group provides a means of reporting violations to the Code of Conduct in a formal process.

              • Gaps in the risk-based approach

                Icon for opening or closing

                Currently, the focus of risk-based verification of social standards in the supply chain is on the last value-adding processing stage for processed products. This includes, for example, the final assembly of electronic devices or household items, the processing of food products or the packaging of clothing. In the area of fresh fruit and vegetables, verification takes place at the cultivation stage. For imported raw materials (cocoa, coffee, palm oil, etc.), we rely on recognised sustainability labels that ensure minimum requirements, including for social standards, have been fulfilled at the cultivation and processing stage. You can find more on the topic of raw materials here.

                Gaps in the coverage of social standards among business partners are mainly in the intermediate stages of the supply chain. This includes, for example, component manufacturers for electronic devices, the preliminary stages in the clothing industry and food product producers. Transparency for these stages is currently relatively low. However, we are working alongside relevant industry working groups to close these gaps in the future.

                Measures

                As part of our human rights due diligence, we pursue a continuous improvement process alongside our business partners. We actively support our partners in respecting human rights and improving working conditions. This is carried out, for example, through visits to producers, empowerment activities, remedial action plans, as well as training and workshops on various human rights-related topics. If we identify insufficient cooperation with business partners in this regard, we reserve the right to terminate the business relationships concerned, citing our human rights due diligence requirements as reason for the termination.

                • Empowerment

                  Icon for opening or closing

                  Working conditions that comply with regulations for all workers are important to us. We maintain a partnership of equals with our suppliers. We drive forward the implementation of necessary short-term improvements by means of remedial action plans. These analyse the causes of far-reaching problems, such as the payment of recruitment fees by guest workers. We then work closely together to develop meaningful and sustainable improvement solutions.

                  We conduct training and educational concepts to promote awareness of social standards, the associated rights and obligations and internal dialogue between managers and employees among all those involved. When doing so, our focus is on the responsible treatment of employees and resources: correct remuneration, overtime within the legal framework and improved occupational safety all make a real difference. They increase the commitment of the workforce and minimise accidents in the workplace.

                  Support with improvement measures

                  Amfori BSCI: amfori BSCI offers a range of measures aimed at improving working conditions for local upstream suppliers. The focus here is on empowering managers. As part of workshops on topics such as occupational safety, social management systems, remuneration and recruitment, managers are motivated and inspired to improve conditions by implementing best practices.

                  QuizRR: In collaboration with the organisation QuizRR, tablets are made available to employees in selected factories in China, usually in the canteen. They contain short films in the local language with content relating to labour rights, for example with regard to maternity, social security insurance, holidays and occupational safety. A subsequent quiz tests the employees’ level of knowledge in a fun way.

                  Individual: In countries where no workshops are available, we offer individual advice. This is provided by selected third-party companies or by our local social standards teams.

                  Multi-stakeholder initiatives: Foros de Comercio Etico and Stronger Together are Spanish NGOs that promote good working conditions in agriculture. They do this by implementing producer training and workshops to develop best practices in recruitment and working conditions, and by organising networking events. A number of our fruit and berry suppliers in southern Spain took part in a workshop organised by Foro Etico on “Decent wages and social security benefits and strategies for the implementation of social security benefits”. Our strawberry producers took part in a workshop organised by Stronger Together on “Activities to promote ethical practices in the workplace”.

                  • Child labour

                    Icon for opening or closing

                    We are against all forms of child exploitation. We are aware that child labour continues to be widespread worldwide. It primarily affects regions and countries with a low level of economic development in sectors such as agriculture, raw material extraction, domestic work and the informal sector. Our supply chains are also affected by the risk of exploitative child labour, especially in the indirect supply chain. Specifically, we are talking about pre-processing, suppliers to production companies, the cultivation of agricultural raw materials and the extraction of raw materials as well as illegal subcontracting. In our efforts to act more effectively along the value chain, we want to increase supply chain transparency.

                    Our approach

                    We are guided by international regulations, in particular ILO Conventions 138 and 182 and the ILO-IOE Child Labour Guidance Tool for Business, when exercising due diligence in the area of child labour. The corresponding requirements are included in the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct and are binding for all suppliers. We also use specific country assessments on child labour (e.g. amfori ESG risk tool or UNICEF). The assessment of child labour is integrated into all Migros audit systems (amfori BSCI, global GAP GRASP, etc.) and label programmes (e.g. Fair Trade Max Havelaar, Rainforest Alliance, RSPO, etc.). In addition to the audits regarding child labour in supply chains, we also work with other partners.

                    Our partners:

                    • The Center for Child Rights and Business: Migros is a member of the CRIB working group, which addresses issues related to child labour in supply chains. In addition, we have access to the organisation’s remedial services in the event that child labour is found in supply chains.

                    • “Youth Skills Development” project in Kenya: Together with Max Havelaar and Fair Trade Africa, Migros has initiated a social development project in flower cultivation in Kenya. The main focus is on the further development of young workers who go on to independently develop and implement projects (as of 2023).

                    • “Building Classrooms” project in Côte d’Ivoire: Migros finances the construction of classrooms as part of an innovative UNICEF project. This project benefits both pupils and plastic waste collectors (as of 2022).

                    • KIDS School in India: Founded in the 1990s as a means of combatting child labour in Tirupur, the school has evolved over time into a successful and respected Migros development project. After 15 years, the school became independent. The future of the school is secured by the support of local textile suppliers and the income from moderate school fees. This important step towards independence enables the school to continue its mission of educating and protecting children in the region.

                    • Living wage

                      Icon for opening or closing

                      By a living wage, we are referring to the income that workers receive for a normal working week in a given location and that is sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for themselves and their families. In the context of agriculture, we understand a living wage for self-employed agricultural workers to mean the total income for a household in a given location to provide a decent standard of living for all household members. The focus of our activities in the area of living wages and incomes is on countries and sectors in the Global South.

                      Our approach

                      The appropriate remuneration of labour in our supply chains is set out in our amfori BSCI Code of Conduct. Guidelines on strengthening working conditions and remuneration are also defined in our sustainable procurement principles. In addition to the requirement to pay the statutory minimum wage, we are also committed to improving wages and incomes in our supply chains. We focus our income-related activities on countries with low wages, high poverty and weak structures in terms of social and labour law protection on a risk-based basis. In doing so, we pursue a holistic approach that provides a framework for targeted wage negotiations and contributes to practical solutions for a decent standard of living:

                      • Monitoring working conditions

                      • Identifying wage gaps

                      • Engaging in stakeholder dialogue with NGOs and partners

                      • Implementing pilot projects with long-term suppliers

                      • Promoting social dialogue in factories

                      In order to improve the wage situation at our upstream suppliers, we are in dialogue with them to find solutions together. Pilot projects help us to explore possible measures and their scalability. For example, we have developed a monitoring tool to record the wages of workers at our textile suppliers. We compare these wages with recognised benchmarks to identify the wage gaps that need to be overcome in order to secure a living wage. If significant wage gaps are identified, we work with our suppliers to find suitable measures so that workers in our supply chains can achieve a decent standard of living. The long-term monitoring of working conditions and wage gaps helps us to observe improvements over time and close gaps.

                      The Migros Group also invests in strengthening farmers and cooperatives through sustainability projects in the agricultural sector. Through a variety of activities, we help to ensure that agricultural workers and their families can enjoy a decent standard of living. For example, targeted training for farmers can lead to increases in production and improvements in quality. Our measures also include diversification projects, support for the implementation of certification programmes, which enables access to rewards, and the financing of local development projects. These lead to a sustainable improvement in income and living standards.

                      Our approach

                      To track human rights developments in our value chains, we work with internationally recognised monitoring tools such as amfori BSCI, GlobalG.A.P. GRASP and other equivalent social standards. The production facilities in our value chains are reviewed at least every one to two years, depending on the last audit result, for socially acceptable working conditions and actual and potential negative effects on human rights. These reviews are carried by independent auditing bodies. All key figures on social standards can be found here. We also review the progress of our Group-wide sustainability strategy annually by means of centrally managed controlling and an internal progress report.

                      Relevant stories

                      Find out what we are doing to assume social responsibility within our supply chain.

                      All Stories

                      More on the topic