Protection of human rights

Attention to and respect of individuals are issues that Iren Group places at the heart of its growth and the sustainable development of the community and local area.

IThe Group operates mainly in Italy, where a complex system of laws contributes to preventing the risk of human rights violations. Nevertheless, the Group considers the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Conventions and Recommendations issued by the ILO (International Labour Organization)5 and the Earth Charter drawn up by the Earth Council, along with the principles of the UN Global Compact that Iren adopts, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to be essential points in defining its values.

Acknowledging the absolute value of the fundamental principles of the Constitution of the Italian Republic, Iren Group, in its own Code of Ethics, considers respect for the dignity of people and the condemnation of any discrimination – trade union, political, religious, racial, language or gender discrimination – as central, with the promotion of an inclusive culture at all levels.

These principles – set out in the Code of Ethics, in the Policy on Diversity and Inclusion and in the Policy on dealing with violence, harassment and bullying in the workplace, adopted in 2021 (see page 245) – are aimed at fighting any violation of human rights, result in the refusal of any form of forced labour or employment of irregular personnel, to enter into negotiations or to confer positions that may offend or which are contrary to the fundamental principles underlying respect for human dignity and commitment not to collaborate with partners who violate these principles, with particular reference to the exploitation of child labour and the protection of the primary guarantees of each worker.

At Iren Group, respect for human rights is always a fundamental prerequisite for correct business activity, which is reflected in our scrupulous compliance with the law and contract regulations, with the provisions of the Model 231 and the Code of Ethics, as well as in our constant discussion with Trade Unions and stakeholders (via Local Committees) and in the suppliers’ management system. This issue is so integral to the company culture that all action areas and tools mentioned above are subject to constant update and improvement.

The Group has also adopted instruments to encourage accessibility and use of services, particularly for disabled people, more vulnerable categories, and foreign language speakers.

The principles, the policies pursued, and the conduct adopted, ensured that in 2021, Iren Group did not record any violations for discriminatory practices.

Also in 2021 in the extraordinary transactions aimed at acquiring companies/shareholdings, the Group carried out, with the support of specifically appointed advisors, the appropriate due diligence activities aimed, among other things, at verifying: the application of labour and workplace safety regulations provided for by Italian legislation, and the existence of any disputes on the subject, the adoption of a Model 231 and a Code of Ethics, and the identification of any risks linked to the non-application of these regulations and management models with the adoption of the appropriate actions, such as, for example, the inclusion of conditions precedent and penalties in transactions deemed at risk.

In order to spread good practice and ensure compliance with ethical values and principles of conduct by the supply chain, the Group has prepared, in addition to the Code of Ethics, specific social standards on human rights and working conditions, which must be signed by all suppliers (see page 266).

In 2021, 136 hours of training were provided to I.Blu staff on human rights, as part of the commitments made with SA8000 Certification, which is based on the principles of social responsibility inherent in the prohibition of child, forced and compulsory labour, the prohibition of discrimination against workers and disciplinary practices involving physical or psychological punishment, the promotion of the health and safety of workers, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the regulation of working hours and fair pay.

In 2021, the annual analysis was carried out on suppliers through a questionnaire also aimed at detecting the human rights policies adopted by companies that hold active contracts with the Group (see page 264).

Of the 1,332 supplier companies that responded (26% of the total), 56% have human rights policies in place that fall, in order of priority, into the following areas:

  • equal opportunities and equal treatment, regardless of race, gender, language, religion, nationality, political opinion, sexual orientation, social status, disability, age or other condition of the individual that is not connected to the requirements for carrying out their job;
  • checking of the age of employees during the hiring process, including by recruitment companies;
  • formal reporting systems that allow workers to report human rights breaches, ensuring the protection of the reporter’s identity;
  • training to raise awareness and prevent discrimination;
  • measures to integrate employees;
  • formal control systems to ensure that the company does not request that its employees deposit money, identity documents or credit cards during the hiring process.

Furthermore, 20% of those who responded to the questionnaire stated that there is an employee within their organisation who is officially responsible for human rights issues. Finally, responding providers received two instances of human rights-related complaints, while no complaints or lawsuits for discriminatory practices have been recorded.

This survey is repeated regularly to maintain constant monitoring of the supply chain.

5 Particular reference is made to the Conventions ILO C1, C29, C87, C95, C98, C100, C102, C103/183, C105, C111, C115, C118, C120, C122, C130, C131, C132, C135, C138, C142, C148, C154, C155, C158, C159, C162, C170, C171, C174, C175, C182, C187, C190.