Protecting human rights


Human rights are fundamental rights and freedoms that every individual is entitled to. As there are many people that contribute to the success of XD Connects – from end users to the workers in our supply chain – safeguarding their human rights is one of the pillars of our ESG roadmap. These efforts contribute to SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, one of our company supporting SDGs. 

We use our influence in our value chain to ensure the human rights of individuals affected by our operations are always respected. This means looking at our supply chain, our own operations, our customers, and the end users of our products.

On our ESG Ambitions page, an overview of our key performance indicators in the area of human rights is given. These include the percentage of our suppliers with a valid social audit and living wage for workers in our supply chain.

On this page we share how each of these groups fit into the human rights pillar of our ESG roadmap. You will also find definitions of key concepts, regulatory developments, and learning resources on the topic. 

Any questions can be directed to 

Familiarise yourself with key concepts

Human rights are inherent to all human beings and include civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Human rights are protected by international law and encompass principles such as equality, dignity, freedom, and justice.

Forced labor refers to situations where individuals are coerced or compelled to work against their will. Individuals are typically deprived of their freedom and autonomy. Forced labor is a violation of human rights and is prohibited under international labor standards.

Child labor entails the exploitation of children for economic gain or work that interferes with their education, development, and well-being. Child labor is a significant violation of children’s rights and is prohibited under international conventions.

Providing decent work refers to employment that provides fair wages, safe working conditions, social protection, and opportunities for personal and professional development. It encompasses the right to work in an environment that respects workers’ dignity. This is promoted by the International Labour Organization.

Conducting due diligence means making thorough and proactive efforts to identify, prevent, and mitigate the potential risks or negative impacts of a business’ operations. It involves carrying out investigations and evaluations to ensure that a company’s activities adhere to legal, ethical, and social standards. 

Increasingly, countries are instating due diligence requirements for human rights. We have outlined our compliance to those applicable to our operations further down this page.

Social audits of our manufacturers

Our products are manufactured in the factories of our suppliers and assembled by their employees. It is important for us that the working conditions in which our collection is made meet accepted standards. 

We use our influence to monitor and improve the social standards of our suppliers. To do this we make use of social audit reports. An external auditor visits factories and tests the conditions there against an independently developed standard, like BSCI or SMETA. The report that comes from this visit is shared with all the buyers via the platform of the standard setters. These annual reports are tools for buyers to engage with their suppliers on improvement targets.

On every product page in our collection, visitors can see the social audit status of the factory it was made in. We encourage customers to take this into consideration when buying. Our company KPIs will push us to a point where a valid social audit is available for all products. 

Day-to-day operations

Before entering into business with a supplier, they are asked for a valid social audit. If they do not have one, a commitment to start their first audit is expected. There are multiple cases where our interest in social audits has led to factories committing to an annual audit for the first time.

We use social audit reports to evaluate our supply chain on human rights performance. We have set targets for improvement. To meet these targets, we engage with vendors, making our expectation to see improvement clear and asking after their plans to respond to the auditor’s observations. 

Our annual evaluations with key suppliers include their social performance over time.

We recognise social audits according to the amfori BSCI, Sedex SMETA and SA8000 frameworks. These are all independently developed.

We do not design our own social audit criteria nor do we accept social audits designed by other companies; these are vulnerable to shying away from the big or complicated issues in the supply chain and are rarely conducted by independent, expert auditors. Furthermore, using recognised frameworks lowers the burden on suppliers as one audit can be used by all their suppliers who are members of these frameworks.

XD Connects has been a member of amfori and Sedex since 2018. 

Human rights due diligence

There is a lot of activity in the regulatory arena around more (extensive) and better due diligence for ESG topics. There are higher expectations being set for companies than ever before. Companies are expected to be aware of human rights risks in their entire supply chain and take action to make impact.

Below are some of the countries / regions taking regulatory action to make sure products sold in their markets did not contribute to any human rights abuses anywhere in the supply chain. This selection is most relevant to XD Connects operations at this point in time.

Norway Transparency Act

As we sell products in Norway, we are required to carry out human rights due diligence in line with the OECD Guidelines throughout our supply chain and business relationships. Communicating on these activities with consumers is also included in the act.

Our active membership to amfori BSCI helps us carry out this due diligence through independent audits at our supplier facilities. The validity of this audit is visible to customers for every product. Transparency is a key pillar of our roadmap – we communicate progress made in safeguarding human rights in our supply chain through our website, Annual Impact Report, and upon request. 

UK Modern Slavery Act

This act requires companies to publish an annual statement on modern slavery in their value chains. Although there is no expectation that companies present proof of a modern slavery-free supply chain, the statement made by the company must describe the steps taken to manage the risk of modern slavery. 

Find the XD Connects Modern Slavery Statement in our library. 

EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive 

With this directive the EU will require companies to identify and take action on  actual and potential impacts of their activities on the environment and on human rights abuses. Conducting due diligence on their whole value chain – not just their own operations – will be part of this. This is an extensive piece of regulation that will expect prevention action plans from companies. 

This directive will be issued by the EU and is to be implemented by Member States. It will apply to all companies operating in the EU (to different extents). The final text of the directive is expected end of 2023.

The following legislation (in the making) was reviewed and found that they do not directly apply to our operations: French Duty of Vigilance Law; German Supply Chain Act; Swiss Human Rights Due Diligence legislation; and the Canadian Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act. 

Human rights in our own operations

Respecting human rights as a company applies just as much to the workers in our supply chain as it does our own employees. The rights of our employees are outlined in our MITT collective labour agreement (CAO MITT). We abide by national legal requirements and follow the principles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Adherence to the labour requirements set out in the FSC standard and GRS is audited annually.

Our decorating facility – Printmasters – is the only manufacturing facility in our group. To make sure the safety of their workers is up to standard, Printmasters is certified according to ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management. Furthermore, Printmasters is audited according to the Sedex SMETA auditing framework on an annual basis. Human rights are a key focus of this audit, like with the amfori BSCI framework.