Confectionary giant Mondelēz International says it is continuing to commit to offering a living wage to all of its employees and is investing in education.

The company has revealed it is investing $3 million (€2.9m) towards improving children’s access to quality education in cocoa-growing regions, and it has doubled coverage of its Cocoa Life communities with Child Labor Monitoring Systems (CLMRS), reaching 61% in West Africa.

These, and other pledges form the company‘s 2025 ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) goals. Progress towards these goals has been demonstrated in its Human Rights Due Diligence and Modern Slavery report for 2021. The report confirms progress made toward the company’s goals to prevent, identify, and address potential human rights and modern slavery risks in its own operations and supply chains, Mondelēz says.

Preventing and addressing child labour across the West African cocoa sector requires cross-sector collaboration. In 2021, the umbrella International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) – composed of Mondelēz International and peer companies, suppliers and NGOs – reached 590,000 households across Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana with systems that help prevent and address child labor.

Lack of access to schooling is a key root cause of child labour, which can only be addressed systemically. Mondelēz International is investing in two initiatives focused on improving access to education: The Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF) – which brings together the government of Cote d’Ivoire, peer companies and foundations – as well as the Early Learning and Nutrition (ELAN) initiative, led by the Jacobs Foundation. The goal of these investments is to improve access to and quality of education for 5 million children, reaching 90% of rural primary schools in Côte d’Ivoire, through the construction of 2,500 classrooms and proven interventions to improve teaching quality.

Supporting human rights in sourcing additional commodities

Along with its progress in supporting human rights across the cocoa supply chain, the 2021 report demonstrates Mondelēz International’s progress in promoting human rights due diligence practices in the sourcing of additional commodities such as palm oil and hazelnuts, Mondelēz says.

To support the mainstreaming of robust due diligence practices in the palm oil sector, Mondelēz International has joined forces with peers in the CGF Human Rights Coalition, the Fair Labour Association, and the International Organisation for Migration to deploy and test systems at each stage of the supply chain.

Additionally, in 2021, Mondelēz International joined CAOBISCO’s partnership with the International Labor Organization to help combat child labor in seasonal harvesting of hazelnuts in Turkey. After this group held awareness-raising sessions with seasonal workers and their families, orchard owners and labor intermediaries, it reported that 1,456 children were removed or prevented from engaging in harvesting activities across the Black Sea region.

Supporting a Living Wage

In 2021, Mondelēz International joined IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) Living Wage Roadmap to help advance living wages in global supply chains and confirmed a continued commitment to pay its employees a living wage. This builds upon the company’s long-standing focus on promoting human rights with the introduction of a dedicated Human Rights Policy aligned with the United Nations Human Rights Guiding Principles.

“Through our flagship ingredient sourcing program Cocoa Life, we are learning from our decade of experience on the ground in cocoa communities about the importance of living income,” said Laura Stein, executive vice president for corporate and legal affairs and general counsel, Mondelēz International. “Building on our ongoing focus on promoting human rights, we joined the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) Living Wage roadmap to help advance living wage and income in global supply chains. We will also work with our suppliers with the goal of having all our strategic suppliers engaged on a living wage roadmap by 2030.”

Mondelēz International says it is also working with peers in the AIM Progress Living Wage working group to support the business’ goal of having all strategic suppliers engaged on a living wage roadmap by 2030.

Additionally, as part of its continued membership in the Human Rights Coalition of Action within the Consumer Goods Forum, the company joined the Human Rights Due Diligence Project in 2021. This project is key in supporting Mondelēz International’s goals to continuously strengthen its human rights due diligence systems and prevent risks, including forced labor, across its own operations and supply chain.

Recognising the systemic nature of human rights issues in global supply chains and the need for all actors along the supply chain to work together to address them, Mondelēz International continues to advocate in favour of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation, the company claims.

It supports legislative efforts aimed at enabling practical, proactive, ongoing human rights due diligence, and generally welcomes the EU Commission’s proposed Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence directive (issued in February 2022), which will require companies to identify and address human rights and environmental risks in their value chain.

“It’s very significant that Mondelēz International was prepared to stick their head above the parapet and say: ‘actually, we need human rights due diligence to become mandatory, so that we can level the playing field and all businesses start upholding human rights standards in their supply chain,’” said Dr. Aidan McQuade, human rights expert and author of Ethical Leadership: Moral Decision-Making Under Pressure.

The Human Rights Due Diligence and Modern Slavery report is part of Mondelēz International’s ongoing evaluation and review of best practices in enhancing its approach to respecting human rights. To identify human rights risk, the company said it is committed to undertaking practical, proactive due diligence in its owned operations and seeks to work with suppliers who share the same level of commitment. The company takes action to mitigate identified risks, prioritises areas of focus through signature sustainable sourcing programs, and advocates for systemic solutions through public-private collaboration.

Through its 10-year old signature cocoa sourcing program Cocoa Life, Mondelēz International partners with almost 210,000 farmers in over 2,500 communities and has invested more than $400M to support farmers’ livelihoods.

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