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Human rights

Actions in support of human rights


The main challenges associated with the Group activities and respect for human rights are identified using the methodology set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles Reporting Framework relating to the “salient issues” with regard to human rights, 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, as well as the internal risk mapping activities, have led the Group to identify six risks subdivided across three key areas:
  • “Human rights in the workplace” of Total’s 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.

In 2016, Total published an initial Human Rights Briefing Paper, in line with the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, making it the first company in the oil and gas industry to do so. An updated version of this document was published in 2018.

The Forum of the United Nations on Business and Human Rights 2018 invited the President and CEO to attend a panel of senior business leaders at the opening plenary session on November 26, 2018. This opportunity has allowed Total to explain how the Group integrates respect for human rights into its operations and value chain and how it puts into practice reasonable diligence concerning human rights, as well as to remind the challenges that needs to be tackled.

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

Written commitments

Total is committed to respecting internationally recognized human rights wherever the Group operates, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fundamental Conventions of the International Labor Organization, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR).

A dedicated organization

The Group’s Human Rights Department provides advice and support to employees and operational divisions and supervises efforts made to promote respect for human rights in close collaboration with the Ethics Committee. In particular, it runs a Human Rights Committee which coordinates the actions taken internally and externally by the various Group entities.

The Ethics Committee is a central and independent structure where sit representatives of all Total’s business segments. Its key role is one of listener and support. Both employees and external stakeholders can refer matters to the Ethics Committee by email at [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 a network of “ethics officers” in charge of promoting the values set out in the Code of Conduct among employees working in the Group’s subsidiaries and ensuring that the Group’s commitments are correctly implemented at the local level.

Awareness-raising and training

To ensure that employees understand the Group’s commitments, Total raises their awareness via internal communication channels, such as its Ethics and Human Rights intranet websites or by means of events such as the annual Business Ethics Day. In 2018, the Business Ethics Day was held in December on the day of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Since 2011, the Group has issued and made available to its employees and other stakeholders a Human Rights Guide which comes as complement to the Group’s Code of Conduct. It aims to raise the Group’s employee’s awareness on issues relating to human rights in their industry and provides guidance as to the appropriate behavior to adopt in their activities and relationships with stakeholders.

Total also organizes special trainings tailored to the challenges faced on the field by employees who are particularly exposed to such issues such as human rights training sessions for HSE experts and Community Liaison Officers (CLO) organized with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) or sessions designed to raise awareness of the Group’s Ethics Officers. Actions intended to raise awareness of the Group’s external stakeholders, such as specific VPSHR trainings for the private security providers, are also organized.


The practices of the Group’s entities and the risks to which they may be exposed are regularly evaluated when it comes to human rights issues. The Group works with independent third parties and qualified experts to conduct these assessments.

Since 2002, the British company GoodCorporation has assessed the policies and practices of more than 120 entities with regard to the principles and values enshrined in the Group’s Code of Conduct. During these evaluations, the working conditions in the Group’s activities and service stations are assessed, among other things. In 2018, seven entities were assessed. These evaluations help identify entities’ best practices, share them within the Group and highlight areas for improvement. The Group uses these evaluations as opportunities to encourage its employees to voice their concerns in a confidential manner and report behaviors contrary to the Code of Conduct. These evaluations confirm that the Code of Conduct is well known by the Group’s employees. Total must nevertheless continue to raise awareness among its commercial and industrial partners, in particular with regard to respect for human rights at work. The supplier’s qualification and evaluation procedure which is being progressively deployed by Total Global Procurement, described in our “Supply chain” section, contributes to raise these partners’ awareness.

Stand-alone 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 such as the Danish Institute for Human Rights, a Danish public non-profit organization. In 2017 and 2018, the Danish Institute for Human Rights conducted two human rights impact assessments of our projects in Papua New Guinea and Myanmar. In Papua New Guinea, the assessment focused on equal treatment between women and men, security and conflict. The recommendations included in particular awareness-raising of the relevant stakeholders to complaint mechanisms and the periodic measurement of their effectiveness; the organization of trainings on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) for government security forces and private security providers. As a result of this study, steps have been taken by the entity to implement these recommendations. Other non-profit partner organizations, such as the CDA Corporate Engagement Project, also contribute to the evaluation of the societal impact of the Group’s activities or projects on nearby local communities. It includes interviews with local communities. CDA’s reports are available on their website.

The Group also assesses the practices of its suppliers, including the working conditions of their own employees (refer to the “Supply chain” section).


The Group’s approach is integrated within a Human rights roadmap endorsed by the Group’s Executive Committee at regular intervals. The 2017-2018 roadmap on human rights focuses on three main areas for improvement: integrating human rights considerations in business practices at local level; improving management awareness and accountability on human rights issues at all levels; improving evaluation processes of at risk entities, the tools available to them and their follow-up. It includes an action plan for relevant Group’s division and business segments.

Human Rights in the workplace


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 Total’s Code of Conduct and Human Rights Guide.

Total’s commitment to human rights in the workplace is demonstrated, in particular, by the signature of various agreements, such as
the one concluded with the IndustriALL Global Union(1) in 2015. In particular, this agreement covers the promotion of human rights in the workplace, diversity, the participation of employees and their representatives in social dialog and the recognition of health and safety at work as absolute priorities in the Group’s activities and global supply chain.

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

In its activities

Total 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 enjoy fair and adequate living and working conditions (refer to the “People's health and safety” section).

Total is committed to promoting diversity and endeavors to combat all forms of discrimination (origin, gender, sexual orientation, handicap, age, membership in a union or a political or religious organization, etc.). The Diversity Council, which is chaired by a member of the Executive Committee, illustrates this commitment.

In 2017, Total 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. It draws on the experiences of the business segments in various countries and encourages dialog, 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. This guide has been translated into nine languages.

In addition to the Group’s reporting and internal control system, the working conditions of Total’s employees are evaluated by GoodCorporation, an independent third party, as part of the ethical assessments of the Group’s entities.

In the Group’s value 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.

The prevention of forced and child labor in the supply chain is a critical point of attention identified in the 2017-2018 human rights roadmap endorsed by the Executive Committee. Total has therefore developed a new methodology for selecting its suppliers which takes account the risks of human rights violations, in particular forced and child labor. In September 2016, Total also entered into a partnership with a third-party service provider in charge of evaluating suppliers’ practices with regard to fundamental rights in the workplace (refer to the “Supply chain” section).

Finally, the working conditions of the employees of service stations’ dealers are evaluated by GoodCorporation, an independent third party, as part of the ethical assessments conducted in the Group entities. Between 2016 and 2017, a baseline study of 22 affiliates in the Marketing & Services segment across different continents was also conducted. One of the main recommendations identified is to improve service station dealers’ awareness of the Group’s Code of Conduct principles and of the fundamental Conventions of the International Labor Organization. In response, Marketing & Services is developing educational tools, which should be promoted in 2019 to this business segment’s entities.

Human Rights and local communities

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Total’s operational activities may have impacts on the rights of local communities, in particular when Total obtains temporary or permanent access to their land for Group’s projects that may involve the physical and/or economic displacement of these populations. Noise and dust emissions and other potential impacts may also have consequences on 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 Total.

In accordance with internationally recognized human rights standards, Total requires the Group entities to maintain a regular dialog with their stakeholders and make sure that their activities 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 legal, safety and environmental teams. The Group’s approach to this topic is described in the section on societal issues in the “Societal impact and local development” section.

Respect for Human Rights in security-related activities


In certain situations, intervention by government security forces or private security providers might be necessary to protect Total staff and assets. In order to prevent any misuse of force, Total asks Group employees, private security providers and government security forces to implement the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) issued by States, NGOs and Extractive Companies.

Total 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 (read the 2018 report). Self- assessment and risk analysis tools have been developed and are deployed, in particular, in the entities located in high risk countries and conflict zones.

When government security forces are deployed to ensure the protection of the Group’s staff and assets, the Group entities maintain an ongoing dialog with the representatives of national or regional authorities in order to raise their awareness on the need to respect the VPSHR and encourage them to sign memorandums of understanding that comply with these principles.

Total regularly organizes training sessions and awareness-raising activities on the risk of misuse of force, and more generally on the VPSHR, for its staff, private security providers and government security forces. In 2018, Total partnered with other Extractive Companies and the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business to organize two VPSHR awareness workshops for government officials, private security providers and NGOs in Myanmar.