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Human rights

Actions to respect human rights

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The main challenges associated with the effects of the Group’s activities in terms of respect for human rights have been identified using the methodology set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights (UNGP) Reporting Framework relating to the “salient issues”, that is to say, the human rights at risk of the most severe negative impact through the Company’s activities or business relationships.

This analysis has led the Group to identify six salient risks subdivided across three key areas:
  • human rights in the workplace of TotalEnergies' employees as well as of the employees of its suppliers and other business partners:
    • forced labor and child labor;
    • discrimination;
    • just and favorable conditions of work and safety.
  • human rights and local communities:
    • access to land;
    • the right to health and an adequate standard of living.
  • respect for human rights in security-related activities:
    • the risk of misuse of force.

Strong commitments

TotalEnergies’ human rights approach is based on strong and formalized commitments. It is supported by a dedicated organization, and embedded in an awareness-raising and training program, as well as evaluation and follow-up mechanisms aiming at measuring the effectiveness of the Group’s actions.

TotalEnergies is committed in particular to respecting internationally recognized human rights and standards, wherever the Group operates, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR).

Since 2016, the Group has published a Human Rights Briefing Paper, which is updated regularly, in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. In 2016, TotalEnergies was the first company in the oil and gas industry to do this. The 2016 and 2018 publications are available on this site.

A dedicated organization

At regular intervals, a human rights roadmap is presented to the Executive Committee to support the ongoing efforts to implement the Code of Conduct and respect human rights. The 2019–2020 roadmap was presented to the Executive Committee in April 2019. The roadmap for 2021-2022 is built with the various business segments and Group entities concerned. The Human Rights Steering Committee monitors the implementation of this roadmap. The committee is chaired by the Group’s Senior Vice President for Civil Society Engagement and includes representatives of each business segment and of the main functional divisions that have a role related to human rights. It meets four times a year and coordinates the actions taken internally and externally by the various Group entities.

The Group’s Human Rights Department coordinates the analysis of the Group’s human rights risks, supports operational teams and supervises the actions to promote respect for human rights, in close collaboration with the Ethics Committee and in accordance with the Group’s Code of Conduct.

The Ethics Committee is an independent structure where representatives of all TotalEnergies’ business segments sit. Its key role is one of listening and support. Both employees and external people can refer matters to the Ethics Committee by sending an email to [email protected].

The Committee ensures the confidentiality of the complaints, which can only be lifted with the agreement of the complainant.

The Human Rights Department and the Ethics Committee rely on the network of more than 100 Ethics officers across the countries in which the Group operates. They are in charge of promoting the values set out in the Code of Conduct among employees working at subsidiaries and ensuring that the Group’s commitments are correctly implemented at a local level.

Awareness raising and training

In order to disseminate the Group’s commitments, TotalEnergies raises its employees’ awareness via internal communication channels such as intranet sites or through events such as Business Ethics Day, which is held each year at headquarters and in all Group subsidiaries. In 2020, Business Ethics Day was held on December 10, on International Human Rights Day. “Speak Up” was the theme for this year, as in 2019, continuing to reinforce the culture of dialogue within the Group. A one-hour live chat accessible to all employees worldwide was held with the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In 2020, in order to prevent the potential consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people, the Human Rights Department focused its contribution on combating all forms of discrimination in the workplace, in particular towards the most vulnerable people (e.g. practical case study kits sent to Group subsidiaries in order to prepare the Business Ethics Day, drawing attention to the situation of migrant workers and employees with more fragile health).

In addition to the Code of Conduct, the Group published a Human Rights Guide available to its employees and the stakeholders. This guide aims to raise the Group’s employees’ awareness of issues relating to human rights in its activities and provides guidance as to the appropriate behavior to adopt in their activities and relationships with stakeholders. The Group also has a practical guide to dealing with religious questions. These guides are available on the dedicated human rights intranet site and are distributed at the various training courses and during the Business Ethics Day.

In 2020, a Group Human Rights training plan was put together to encourage understanding of human rights and promote the development of a culture of respecting human rights within the Group and managing the associated risks. This training plan has been rolled out as a priority among categories of employees who are most exposed to human rights risks and people with the most influence in this regard. As part of the implementation of this plan, two pilot training sessions were organized remotely due to the pandemic: the first with the management committee and community engagement teams at the subsidiary in Uganda, and the second with the management team for the EACOP project in Tanzania. Other specific training programs tailored to issues encountered on the ground were held throughout 2020, in particular:

For all employees:

  • An e-learning module on human rights in the workplace with a focus on respecting the ILO’s core conventions has been accessible to all Group employees since 2019 in all countries in which the Group operates. It is available so far in five languages. More than 20,000 of the Group’s management-level employees (job level 10 or higher) have taken this module at year-end 2020;
  • An initial session to raise awareness about management of religious issues in the workplace organized in partnership with Convenvicia Conseil, a consulting organization specializing in religious issues, was attended by around 50 employees online as part of a cycle of conferences on non-discrimination introduced within the Group. This cycle will be continued in 2021.

For target groups:

  • Annual training in ethics and human rights for newly appointed senior executives (20 participants in 2020);
  • A session to raise awareness about crisis communications and management in relation to human rights, organized in partnership with the NGO SHIFT, with 13 participants (senior executives and others) representing functions that are regularly involved in managing crises at headquarters (Communications, Public Affairs, Legal and Civil Society Engagement);
  • A training session provided by Vérité for Trading and Saft Groupe purchasing teams on human rights risks and reasonable diligence in the raw materials supply chains;
  • In the context of the Mozambique LNG project, a campaign to raise awareness about respecting human rights and the Code of Conduct was rolled out at the Afungi site in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, during the Business Ethics Day celebrations on December 10, held on International Human Rights Day. Two sessions in Portuguese and English were held for all employees at the site and for those at the offices of the subsidiary in Maputo.


The practices of the Group’s entities with regards to ethics and human rights are assessed on a regular basis. These assessments are conducted by independent third parties and qualified experts.

British company GoodCorporation has assessed more than 140 entities since 2002 with regard to the principles and values enshrined in the Group’s Code of Conduct. In 2020, two ethics and human rights assessments were carried out at two sites representing a total of 3,100 employees (Madagascar and Pau in France). The number of assessments was limited compared to previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entities are identified according to several criteria, including the level of risk of human rights violations in each country, the number of alerts received the previous year and the date of the subsidiary’s last assessment. These assessments help identify subsidiaries’ best practices, allow them to be shared within the Group and identify areas for improvement. Knowledge and appropriation of the Code of Conduct are tested and reinforced by ethics and human rights awareness-raising sessions. Employees are encouraged to voice their ethical concerns in a confidential manner and report behaviors potentially contrary to the Code of Conduct. These assessments confirmed that the Code of Conduct has been taken on board by Group employees.

Action plans implemented following the assessments carried out in 2019 at subsidiaries in Brazil, Cameroon, Egypt and Nigeria were also followed up in 2020 in accordance with the practice of ethics and human rights assessments being followed up within 12 months in order to ensure that action plans are implemented.

As regards suppliers, TotalEnergies Global Procurement (TGP) is responsible for rolling out a supplier qualification process (described in the “Supply chain” section), which includes an ethics and human rights dimension. At the same time, the Group has set up a supplier assessment process by a third party based on criteria relating to observance of human rights.

Standalone human rights impact assessments may also be conducted in addition to the environmental and societal impact assessments in high-risk areas or conflict zones with the support of independent experts. In 2020, a human rights impact study for the Mozambique LNG project in Mozambique was carried out by LKL International Consulting and Triple R Alliance, which specialize in human rights impact studies and the implementation of UNGPs within companies. In addition, the conclusions of the human rights impact assessment relating to the EACOP oil pipeline project in Uganda and Tanzania conducted in 2018 have been made public.

Other non-profit partner organizations, such as the CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, also contribute to the evaluation of the societal impact of the Group’s activities or projects on nearby local communities, notably by interviewing local communities. CDA’s reports are available on its website. As the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted work on the ground, the assessments planned in 2020 are expected to be carried out in 2021, should the health context allow.

Human rights in the workplace

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The prohibition of forced and child labor, non-discrimination, just and favorable conditions of work, as well as safety, all form part of the principles set out in the Code of Conduct and are developed in TotalEnergies’ Human Rights Guide and in the Human Rights Briefing Paper.

TotalEnergies’ commitment to human rights in the workplace is demonstrated, in particular, by the signature of various agreements, as the one concluded in 2015 with IndustriALL Global Union(1) for four years, which covers the promotion of human rights in the workplace, diversity and parenthood, working conditions, health, the participation of employees and their representatives in social dialogue and the recognition of health and safety at work as absolute priorities in the Group’s activities and global supply chain. The launch of the “human rights in the workplace” e-learning course also forms part of this approach to raise employee awareness about upholding these rights and the Group’s zero tolerance policy concerning forced labor and child labor.

The respect of human rights has guided the Group’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and is reflected by the adoption of a number of measures aiming to protect the health and safety of all employees in general and the most vulnerable in particular (refer to the “People’s health and safety’.)

(1) International union federation representing more than 50 million employees in the energy, mining, manufacturing and industrial sectors in 140 countries.

In its activities

TotalEnergies cares about the working conditions of its employees which are governed by the Group’s Human Resources policy (refer to the ”Employment and social inclusion” section)

Safety is one of the Group’s core values. Over the last few years, the Group has continued to develop occupational health and safety standards focusing on the right to live and fair and secure working conditions (refer to the “People's health and safety” section).

TotalEnergies is strongly committed to promoting diversity and endeavors to combat all forms of discrimination (origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, membership of a political party, union or a religious organization, etc.) (Refer to the ”Employment and social inclusion” section, in particular for the targets set by the Group in terms of gender diversity and internationalization).

For many years, TotalEnergies has developed a non-discrimination policy with regard to people with disabilities that focuses on issues related to integration into working life. This policy has resulted in dedicated hiring policies and practices and the promotion of diversity and the advantages it offers for the Group. These issues are coordinated for the entire Group through a “Disability Program” within the Group’s Human resources department (”Employment and social inclusion” section).

The Group signed the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Charter created by French association “L’Autre Cercle” in 2014. This provides a framework to combat workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in France.

In 2017, TotalEnergies published a Practical guide to dealing with religious questions within the Group in order to provide practical solutions to the questions raised by the Group’s employees and managers worldwide.

This continues to serve as a reference. It draws on the experiences of the business segments in various countries and encourages dialogue, respect and listening as a way to find solutions suited to the local context. Many internal and external experts helped draft this document, including representatives of various religious communities. The guide is available in 10 languages and on the intranet site. The guide is also distributed at training courses.

In addition to the Group’s reporting and internal control system, the working conditions of TotalEnergies’ employees are assessed by GoodCorporation, an independent third party.

The Group also conducts a consultation every two years with all employees worldwide (TotalEnergies Survey) to obtain a better measurement of their perception of working conditions and thereby take their ideas and suggestions into account. This consultation tool allows for what employees want to be better reflected in human resources policies and thereby contribute to the Group’s willingness to assert TotalEnergies as a good company to work for. The next survey is expected to be carried out in 2021.

In the Group’s supply chain

The Fundamental Principles of Purchasing (FPP) set out the commitments expected from suppliers in various domains, including human rights in the workplace and safety. A Group directive reaffirms the obligation to annex the FPP or to transpose them in the selection process as well as in the contracts concluded with suppliers of goods or services. These were updated in 2020, in order to reinforce the respect of human rights, among other things.

The prevention of risks relating to working conditions, especially forced and child labor in the supply chain, is a major area of concern and one of the Group’s commitments. The supplier selection methodology was therefore strengthened in 2018 to take better account of the risks of human rights violations. In addition, the partnership formed in 2016 between TotalEnergies and a third-party service provider to assess suppliers’ practices in terms of fundamental rights in the workplace remains in effect (refer to the “Supply chain” section).

Finally, the working conditions of the employees of Group-branded service station dealers are also assessed by GoodCorporation. Between 2016 and 2017, a baseline study on a group of 22 subsidiaries in the Marketing & Services segment across different continents was also conducted. On the basis of the recommendations identified to improve service station managers’ awareness of the Group’s Code of Conduct principles and of the fundamental Conventions of the ILO, Marketing & Services has adapted its online training in relation to human rights in the workplace and observance of the ILO’s core conventions to managers’ specific needs in particular.

In 2020, Marketing & Services has continued to implement clauses related to respect human rights in contracts with service station managers when renewing and negotiating contracts and particularly for contracts concerning Africa.

Respect for human rights of local communities

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Total et les droits humains

TotalEnergies’ operational activities may have impacts on the human rights of local communities, in particular when TotalEnergies obtains temporary or permanent access to their land for projects that may involve the relocation of places of residence and/or economic activities and the resettlement of these populations. In addition, noise and dust emissions and other potential impacts may also have consequences for the livelihood of neighboring communities. Consequently, the access to land of local communities and their right to health and an adequate standard of living are two salient issues for TotalEnergies.

In accordance with internationally recognized human rights standards, TotalEnergies requires the Group entities to maintain a regular dialogue with their stakeholders and make sure that their activities either have no negative consequences on local communities or, if these cannot be avoided, that they limit, mitigate and remedy them. The solutions proposed in response to the expectations of local communities are coordinated by the societal teams that work in close collaboration with the Human rights department and the legal, safety and environmental teams. In the framework of its activities, TotalEnergies promotes dialogue and exchanges with human rights defenders, defined by the United Nations Declaration on human rights defenders of 1998 as “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.”

In 2020, the Group decided to reinforce the network of people in charge of monitoring human rights issues by creating the role of human rights coordinator and the role of security advisor in charge of relations with local communities within the Mozambique LNG project. The Group’s approach to this topic is described in the “Value creation for host regions” section.

Respect for human rights in security-related activities

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In certain situations, intervention by government security forces or private security providers may be necessary to protect TotalEnergies staff and assets. In order to prevent any misuse of force, TotalEnergies is committed to implementing the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) issued by States, NGOs and extractive companies. TotalEnergies has been a member of this initiative since 2012. Within this framework, the Group publishes an annual report setting out the challenges, lessons learned and good practices in relation to security and human rights and, if applicable, reports any incidents associated with the Group’s activities. This report is available on the VPSHR Initiative website and on the site.

A new Group rule became effective in 2019 to define the Group’s requirements for implementing the VPSHR. This rule is accompanied by a VPSHR guide published in late 2020, which aims to provide practical advice for operating entities. In 2020, self-assessment and risk analysis tools deployed within entities located in countries identified as being most at risk, were updated and made available on a digital platform in order to enhance monitoring and make results more traceable.

When government security forces are deployed to ensure the protection of the Group’s staff and assets, an ongoing dialogue is maintained with the representatives of national or regional authorities in order to raise their awareness of the need to respect the VPSHR and encourage them to sign memorandums of understanding that comply with these principles. The Group promotes these principles and the VPSHR requirements to the private security companies it hires in connection with its activities. These companies incorporate them, for example, through the training provided to security staff on the VPSHR.

TotalEnergies regularly organizes training sessions and awareness-raising activities for its employees on the risk of misuse of force and, more specifically, on the VPSHR. In view of the security situation in Mozambique and the Group’s development projects in the country, the Mozambique LNG Project – with the support of the VPSHR coordination team within the Group Security division and the Human Rights department – held 22 training sessions in 2020 focusing on VPSHR at the Afungi site in the Cabo Delgado region in partnership with an independent third party (Watchman) specializing in training and raising the awareness of military personnel on observing VPSHR. The aim was to better equip the military and police forces deployed within the framework of the Mozambique LNG project, with respect for human rights, to protect sites in accordance with VPSHR and the requirements set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in July 2020 to reduce the risk as a result of their activities. This training was taken by 539 participants from the Joint Task Force (JTF) that guards the Group’s facilities and 42 members of private security forces. In addition, 22 Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) and 12 commanding officers from the JTF underwent specific training for future trainers.

Specific work to raise awareness about VPSHR and their deployment within entities considered most at risk was also carried out in 2020 within the Marketing & Services segment (e.g. service stations with armed security guards).

The Group’s Security division also organized three online training sessions on the updated version of VPSHR tools. This training was provided to 55 Country Security Officers, who support Country Chairs in their role of being responsible for the Group’s security at country level and who are the representatives of the Group Security division in charge, among other things, of implementing the VPSHR.