1 February 2020
In September 2016, Hermes Parcelnet adopted its Code of Conduct (the Code). The Code formed the cornerstone of the company’s Social Compliance Model which was comprised of a number of features. These included a governance structure to underpin the embedding of the Code, revisions to business processes as well as a grievance mechanism comprised of an internal Service Provider Complaints Panel and Business and Human Rights Advisor Anna Triponel as the company’s Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson provides recommendations on remedy for human rights-related complaints as well as suggestions to the audit committee for strengthening company policies and processes, based on the learnings from complaints received.
The company is now entering the second phase of implementation of the company’s Social Compliance Model. This second phase is characterised by greater ongoing interaction with couriers through the GMB representation before grievances arise, extending the protection of the Code of Conduct beyond couriers and placing a specific focus on modern slavery identification and mitigation – especially in areas where the company has less visibility. The Ombudsperson will transition from reviewing grievances to providing ad hoc strategic support to senior managers at critical moments in the company’s continued journey of embedding.
Anna Triponel, Business and Human Rights Advisor, states that: “Hermes Parcelnet has come a long way since I first was appointed as Ombudsperson at the end of 2016. Particular highlights include its direct negotiations with trade union GMB to offers couriers a number of benefits and collective bargaining, as well as its grievance mechanism which provides couriers a place to express their concerns and seek remedy. At the same time, the company cannot be complacent. My interactions with couriers, as well as field managers, sub depot controllers and others connected to the business, underscore the importance for Hermes of considering effective incentives for living up to the Code and, more importantly, the business drivers that could inadvertently cut against the embedding of the Code. The company’s second phase should indeed focus on a broader range of individuals, seek to work closely with the GMB and hone in on particularly severe impacts – especially since we know that modern slavery is a particular risk in logistics in the UK. I thank all those who have shared their stories with me as part of the grievance process, congratulate Hermes and its Panel members for progress to date, and wish the company every success in navigating the way forward of business growth combined with respect for people.”
Hugo Martin, General Counsel at Hermes Parcelnet, states that: “When we started working with Anna Triponel as Ombudsperson, the field of ‘business and human rights’ was new to us, as it was to most in the logistics industry. However, we knew that we had to provide couriers a strong voice and make changes to support our ability to respect people connected to our business, and address situations where they were not. Anna played an instrumental role in our ability to do so, providing guidance and recommendations to steer the business as we sought to embed our Code of Conduct into our business. It was particularly helpful for us to learn from how other companies are seeking to embed their codes and provide remedy, and how they have sought to address similar challenges we have faced. Combined with our recent changes to the courier model, we have built upon the strong foundations laid by our work with Anna and we look forward to continuing our journey with Anna’s support and guidance.”