Business ethics

 PreventiNg corruption



The oil industry must be particularly vigilant concerning the risk of corruption, especially given the scale of investments and the number of countries in which operations are conducted. Preventing corruption is therefore a major challenge for the Group and all its employees.


Total’s stance on the issue of corruption is based on the principles set out in its Code of Conduct: “The Group adopts a ‛zero tolerance’ approach to corruption and adheres to the strictest integrity standards”. This Code sets out the principles governing the actions and individual behavior of each person, both in their day-to-day decisions and in their relations with the Company’s stakeholders. In it, Total also reiterates its support for the OECD Guidelines and the Tenth Principle of the United Nations Global Compact, which urges businesses to work against corruption in all its forms.


The Group’s commitment has led to a number of actions, including:

  • the adoption by the Executive Committee in 2009 of a corruption prevention policy and the implementation of a dedicated compliance program. This policy was updated in 2016 to reaffirm the Group’s commitment to prevent corruption;
  • and the establishment of a specific organization including, in particular, a Compliance and Social Responsibility Department, which is responsible for rolling out a robust anti-corruption compliance program via a network of more than 370 Compliance Officers wherever Total operates.

The corruption prevention program includes:

  • a framework of internal rules that allow employees, with the support of their Compliance Officer, to identify risk situations, conduct due diligence and implement appropriate actions. The adopted rules especially encompass representatives dealing with public officials, purchasing / sales, gifts / invitations, donations / philanthropy, acquisitions / divestments, joint ventures, conflicts of interest and Human Resources;
  • activities designed to raise awareness among all employees: an initial e-learning course was rolled out in 2011 in 12 languages, followed by a more in-depth e-learning module in late 2015. This module is accessible to all employees and mandatory for the target groups (approximately 30,000 employees);
  • more targeted training activities intended for the most highly exposed positions (particularly for implementation of new rules) and in-depth training for all Compliance Officers;
  • the prohibition of “facilitation payments”;
  • regular reporting and incident feedback mechanisms, including an ethics alert system;
  • audits dedicated to compliance (six to eight per year) covering all the Group’s activities. These audits are followed up the next year to verify that the formulated recommendations have been implemented. In addition, missions carried out by the Group Audit Department include, depending on their purpose, controls to ensure compliance processes are being followed;
  • and the application of suitable sanctions.


In 2016, significant internal communications took place to emphasize once again the importance that the Group attaches to these issues. For the UN’s International Anti-Corruption Day and International Human Rights Day (both observed annually in December), Total held the second edition of the Business Ethics Day, which focused on these two themes as part of the supply chain. This event was organized at the Group level and relayed locally by the subsidiaries to remind employees how to react appropriately and to encourage dialogue.


Under the settlements reached in 2013 between Total, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, an independent monitor was appointed for three years to conduct a review of anti-corruption compliance and related internal control procedures implemented by the Group and to recommend improvements, when necessary. In July 2016, the monitor submitted his third and final report, in which he certified that Total has devised and implemented an appropriate compliance program. As a result of this certification, the U.S. authorities, after having reviewed the monitor’s report, concluded that Total has fulfilled all of its obligations, thus bringing an end to the monitoring process. As a result, a court in the State of Virginia granted a motion to dismiss on November 9, 2016, thereby terminating the procedure directed at the Company, which can no longer be pursued in the United States for these same facts. The Group is continuing to empower all employees and maintain its efforts in a bid to ensure the sustainability, development and continual improvement of this compliance program.


Respect for human rights



Activities of companies can affect the human rights of employees, suppliers and partners, customers, local communities and other stakeholders in numerous ways.Total’s proactive approach to human rights reflects its ethical commitment and helps to establish and maintain successful relationships with all stakeholders, which is essential for the Group to operate effectively.


Total’s approach to respect for human rights is based on several pillars, described below.


Written commitments

The Group’s Code of Conduct was revised in 2014 to reinforce Total’s commitments in terms of respect for human rights. It sets out the Group’s adherence to international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights  and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR). In the event of any discrepancy between legal provisions and the Code of Conduct, the highest standard of protection of human rights applies.


Respect for human rights is one of the Group’s priority business principles, alongside integrity (preventing corruption and fraud and anti-competitive practices) and HSE standards. The Group ensures that employees’ rights are protected and prohibits any form of discrimination against them, including due to sexual orientation or identity. It demands that they themselves respect human rights.


Total also expects its suppliers to respect standards equivalent to its own and pay particular attention to their employees’ working conditions. In particular in 2015 Total signed a global agreement with the worldwide trade union federation, IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million employees in 140 countries. Under this agreement, the Group is committed to maintaining minimum Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards and guarantees worldwide for subsidiaries in which it has more than a 50% stake. The Group also ensures that the principles of the agreement on health, safety and human rights are disclosed to and promoted among its service providers and suppliers. The implementation of this agreement is monitored annually .


Furthermore, while respecting the sovereignty of the host countries in which it operates, the Group reserves the right to express its conviction on the importance of respecting human rights in matters concerning it. Finally, Total respects the rights of local communities by identifying, preventing and limiting the impacts of its activities on their way of life and remediating them. Some of these principles are set out in the “To find out more” section of the Code of Conduct and are detailed in Total’s Human Rights Guide, as updated in 2015.


In 2013, the Group developed a strategic human rights roadmap to better integrate respect for human rights into its various risk and impact management systems. The roadmap, approved by the Executive Committee, has been implemented by various Group entities. For example, easy-to-use auto-diagnostic and self-assessment tools for VPSHR risks for use by subsidiaries have been developed and were the subject of a pilot deployment in 2016 in 20 exposed entities. This roadmap has been updated for 2016-2018 in order to continue the efforts already made by the Group. It proposes actions to:

  • integrate respect for human rights more globally into operational decisions at the local level;
  • improve management’s awareness level and accountability with regard to human rights at all levels of the company; and
  • strengthen the analysis process and action and monitoring plans in the Group’s at-risk entities.


A dedicated organization

The Ethics Committee and the Ethics and Human Rights unit advise employees, help operatives and monitor efforts to promote respect for human rights. In particular, they run a human rights Committee that coordinates the actions taken internally and externally by the various Group entities. The Ethics Committee is a central, independent structure that represents all of Total’s business segments. Its role is to listen and support. Both employees and people outside the Group can refer matters to it by email at The Committee maintains confidentiality with regard to referrals, which can only be lifted with the agreement of the person in question. At the local level, mechanisms for handling grievances raised by local communities are also implemented by subsidiaries exposed to societal risks.


Awareness and training

To ensure its adopted principles are disseminated in-house, Total raises employee awareness via corporate communications channels, such as a group for sharing best practices and challenges in the area of respect for human rights accessible to Group employees on the Total intranet, and through events such as the annual Business Ethics Day. The theme of this day event in 2016 focused on challenges in terms of human rights and anti-corruption in the supply chain. On this occasion an awareness-raising brochure was circulated on the Fundamental Principles of Purchasing, which include human rights. The Group has also produced several videos on three human rights topics that are key for Total: responsible security, prevention of societal impacts on local communities, and working conditions, both for its own employees and within its supply chain. The Group also offers some employees specialtraining tailored to the challenges faced in the field, such as the Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Business program. Finally, actions are taken to raise awareness among the Group’s external stakeholders, such as training related to the VPSHR for its security providers.


Assessments and reporting

Tools are used to regularly assess the subsidiaries’ human rights practices and the risks they may have to face. Their objective is to analyze the societal impacts of a project at the local level or to verify that the subsidiaries’ practices are in line with the Group’s ethical standards. Total commissions approximately 10 ethical assessments per year, with more than 120 subsidiaries evaluated since 2002. These assessments are undertaken by GoodCorporation (GoodCorp), a qualified ethics expert. Certain assessments are also conducted in partnership with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, a Danish public non-profit organization. A reference catalog containing approximately 90 questions relating to human rights, labor law and rules on competition, is used on site, and numerous internal and external stakeholders are interviewed by GoodCorp over the course of several weeks. GoodCorp then issues a final report identifying points requiring improvement and good practices. The entity is then given several months to correct any issues that have been identified. A follow-up report is issued by GoodCorp for the subsidiaries that were assessed. Other non-profit partner organizations, such as the CDA Corporate Engagement Project, also contribute by evaluating the societal impact of the Group’s activities on nearby local communities, for example by surveying the populations in question. CDA’s reports are published online on their website. In July 2016, Total published a dedicated human rights report based on the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework – becoming the first oil & gas company to do so. This information document presents Total’s approach to integrate respect for human rights into its operations and business relations. It focuses on the three key topics for the Group and presents the most important subjects for each topic:

  • human rights in the workplace, concerning Total’s employees but also those of its suppliers, contractors, partners, and those of their subcontractors. The subjects identified are forced labor and child labor, discrimination, fair and just working conditions and safety;
  • human rights and local communities, concerning the impact of its activities on the communities in countries where Total is present and including issues of access to land and the right to health and an adequate standard of living;
  • and human rights and security, concerning measures to protect against the risks and threats to which the Group’s employees and facilities are exposed, while ensuring that the risk of disproportionate use of force is avoided.


For each of these subject areas, the information document summarizes Total’s policies, the training and awareness-raising actions taken, and the due diligence measures implemented in response to the identified issues.


Participation in external initiatives

Total is actively involved in numerous initiatives and working groups on human rights that bring together various stakeholders including Global Compact, Global Compact LEAD (initiative for sustainable leadership), Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, IPIECA, VPSHR and non-profit organizations such as Shift.


Promoting financial transparence


Total is committed to ensuring full transparency in respect of the revenue generated by its activities. The Group actively participates in intergovernmental initiatives and dialogue in this regard.


Promote transparency among host States

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) brings together players from civil society, host States and extractive companies. Its main purpose is to improve transparency in transactions between governments and companies from the extractive industry. Because it applies to all oil and mining players in EITI member countries, this initiative also contributes to strengthening the principles of accountability, fair competition and good governance.


Total joined the EITI as soon as it was launched at the 2002 Johannesburg Summit. The Group has always supported this initiative and continues to be actively involved, particularly with the presence of a Total representative on the Board of Directors.


Promoting the principles of transparency is part of a framework which is respectful of the sovereignty of the host countries: no lasting result can be achieved without the voluntary commitment of the States. In conjunction with the initiative's secretariat, the Group is committed to promoting the EITI principles among the host States in which it operates, and to assist them in the practical implementation of these principles.


Total supports governments efforts towards advancing transparency in accordance with the EITI framework, and advocates for the public disclose by countries of their Petroleum contracts and licenses.


To do this, Total strives to:

  • Foster dialogue between the relevant Group officials and representatives of States, civil society and the EITI;
  • Participate in the efforts of the EITI Board;
  • Promote the EITI and its principles among the States in which it operates and, more generally, whenever it has the opportunity;
  • Share resources and recommendations based on our experience.


The initiative is consistently recognised by the G8 (it became a focal point of the 2013 Lough Erne Summit) and the G20 also confirmed its support in this regard (Saint Petersburg in 2013).


Why support the EITI? ?

The EITI has the advantage of being a voluntary, win-win initiative.


For companies, a transparent approach should facilitate the emergence of stable economic and political conditions, guaranteeing the sustainability of their investments. This process contributes to improved relationships with our shareholders and greater confidence in the markets. It also allows for better risk management and relationships with local communities.


Conversely, the stabilization of economic conditions attracts foreign investors, contributes to sustainable development of the host State and reduces poverty. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank pay special attention to how transparent countries are, and as such encourage EITI membership.


Local communities benefit from a better understanding of how oil revenues are allocated.


Finally, civil society improves its links with investors and international organizations. The EITI promotes good governance which strengthens public institutions and raises civic awareness.


In addition to our commitment to the EITI, we report payments made by the Group's extractive companies to the governments, States and territories in which we operate. We detail the total amount and type of payment, by country, by project and by government in our annual reference document (chapter 11, point 3).

A responsible approach to tax


Tax payments of TOTAL represent a substantial part of our group’s economic contribution to the countries in which we operate.


TOTAL is mindful of its responsibility and is committed to paying its fair share of taxes to the host countries of its operations, in compliance with applicable laws and conventions and in accordance with our Code of Conduct.


Our intercompany transactions are thus based on arm’s length terms and our tax strategy is aligned with our business strategy. The formation of affiliates worldwide is driven by business operations, as well as regulatory constraints and JV requirements. It is the Group’s long term commitment not to create affiliates in countries generally acknowledged as tax havens and to repatriate or liquidate existing affiliates, where feasible.


Our tax policy’s prime focus is certainty and sustainability in the long term. We believe that the expected short term tax benefit derived from artificial or aggressive tax planning will often be outweighed by the reputational and future tax litigation risks inherent in such schemes.


The Group takes a responsible approach to the management and control of taxation issues, relying on well-documented and controlled processes to manage risk and ensure compliance with tax disclosure and filing obligations. The management of tax risks is fully integrated in the Group’s global risk governance process. As part of this process, the Group VP Tax regularly reports to the Audit Committee and the Group Risk Committee on TOTAL’s global tax position, risk monitoring and associated improvement actions.


We engage with a broad range of stakeholders, and especially with tax authorities, in a timely, transparent and professional manner which is the basis of a constructive and long term relationship.


As a permanent member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since its creation in 2002, Total fully supports initiatives for greater transparency and accountability. We encourage governments to ensure that the tax reporting obligations they will impose upon multinational groups are consistent, coordinated and proportionate.


Total publishes in its Registration Document an annual report covering the payments made by the Group’s extractive affiliates to governments and the full list of its consolidated entities, together with their countries of incorporation and of operations.