© Doreen Fiedler / picture alliance / dpa

At Munich Re Group, our business model is tied to responsible, sustainable and forward-looking action over the long term. Beyond the fact that we believe this approach helps make us more successful, it is the right thing to do. With this in mind, there’s no question that we respect and uphold human rights in line with internationally accepted human rights principles. It is part and parcel of our approach to corporate governance, which builds economic, environmental and social requirements into our definition of success. And the Board of Management has confirmed this commitment by clearly stating the Munich Re Group`s declaration of principles on human rights.

Commitments

In addition to observing the standards specified by the UN Global Compact, PSI, and PRI, Munich Re Group is committed to respecting human rights as defined in the following human rights-specific principles: 

 

Key components of human rights management

Munich Re Group has committed to observing its duty of care on human rights along the entire value chain, and to respect internationally recognised human rights. To this end, we have developed a due diligence process that covers the key components of human rights due diligence:

  • Commitment of the Board of Management to respect human rights
  • Identifying and assessing human rights risks and impacts
  • Implementing measures and monitoring
  • Reporting and communication
  • Remedy and grievance mechanism
We are convinced that our business model can only be successfully realised in the future through long-term and responsible action. For Munich Re Group, it is self-evident that people should respect and uphold human rights. For this reason, the Munich Re Board of Management has formulated its own position on human rights.
Wenning
© Andreas Pohlmann / Munich Re
Joachim Wenning, CEO Munich Re

In a systematic evaluation of potential risks, Munich Re Group defined the following four dimensions as critical to upholding human rights: employees, procurement, our core business of primary insurance and reinsurance, and investment management. For each of these dimensions, we identify, assess and, if necessary, mitigate potential risks with regard to the infringement of human rights. 

We place particular emphasis on core business and investment because of its potentially high impact. With this in mind we have specific analysis tools in place to monitor it. As regards our insurance business and investments, we systematically take environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria – including the observance of human rights – into account as part of the risk assessment and decision making processes. Find more information in the core business chapter in our Corporate Responsibility Report (page 20).

In addition to these ESG guidelines, we have created a risk mapping tool for human rights. This tool is designed to aid all employees in insurance and investment in categorising and evaluating countries and economic sectors as per various indices and human rights topics. We consider the following topics when mapping risks by country: child labour and forced labour; discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality or religion; corruption; threats to communities; restrictions on people’s liberty or freedom; international and domestic conflicts. When we analyse sector risks, we focus on working conditions, child labour and forced labour, occupational health risks, and the sources of commodities.

 

 

 

For each of the four risk dimensions that we have defined – employees, procurement, our core business and asset management – we have implemented measures, guidelines, and governance instruments. This enables us to reduce or mitigate risks with regard to violations of human rights; these approaches also guide our decision-making in line with conscientious management practices.

Suitable monitoring systems help us examine the effectiveness of our measures. We strive to continually improve our processes of due diligence and expand our screening of risks; we also regularly raise awareness of human rights among our staff and business partners. In the interest of raising awareness of human rights, all Munich Re Group employees worldwide must complete training and pass a test on our Code of Conduct every two years. This ensures that they know the key compliance rules and understand the need to always follow these rules at work. This training course includes information on topics such as the German General Act on Equal Treatment, reporting of infringements, data protection, and corruption.

If a violation of human rights is reported, or we learn of it by any other means, the Munich Re unit responsible for compliance will look into the violation. An investigation is launched, which follows a procedure defined in an internal set of guidelines. Every potential instance of misconduct will be investigated and clarified. If we learn of human rights violations in an existing contractual relationship, we will engage in dialogue with the responsible stakeholders and seek to put risk-mitigating measures into practice.

 

As an employer, we undertake to observe international human rights standards and provide optimum working conditions for our staff. For further information on occupational health and safety, promoting diversity and equal opportunities, labor rights, training and qualification please refer to the human resources chapter in our Corporate Responsibility Report (page 49).
With regard to all our procurement decisions and activities, we always observe the principles of compliance and we embrace corporate responsibility throughout the value chain. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria play a pivotal role in our procurement of goods and services.  For more information please refer to the chapter Corporate Governance in our Corporate Responsibility Report (page 16).
A set of underwriting guidelines defines how all underwriters and client managers are to handle ESG risks in insurance transactions. If we identify human rights risks during risk assessment (underwriting), we engage with the contract partner to discuss mitigation measures. Binding guidelines or best practice recommendations were drawn up for topics and industry sectors deemed sensitive by Munich Re Group; they are applicable for reinsurance, primary insurance and  investment. These documents place particular emphasis on child labour and forced labour in mining, farming, and along their respective value chains, as well as the forced resettlement of indigenous communities as part of large infrastructure projects. Human rights risks that threaten our reputation are presented as part of due diligence to the Reputational Risk Committee (RRC), which will take a decision and possibly reject the risky course of action.
Because our business model as an insurer has a long-term focus, sustainability criteria play a key, strategic role in investment. We are obligated to invest our clients’ money sensibly and profitably in a manner that adheres to strict security and return requirements. Which is why we have committed to observing the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and consider it essential to integrate ESG aspects in our investment processes. For the majority of Munich Re’s investments, our target is to be sustainable in accordance with our Group-wide Responsible Investment Guideline (RIG) and we track our progress in this regard in an internal sustainability index. Over 80% of our investments were invested sustainably in 2019. We systematically incorporate individually defined ESG criteria into the selection process for every class of asset. For investments in equities and bonds we use sustainability indices, ratings and specific ESG research by MSCI which also includes human rights issues. In the asset classes of infrastructure, renewable energies, forestry and farmland, ESG aspects are reviewed in the due diligence process for investments. We regularly review our sustainability criteria for all assets.

We explain in the following documents how Munich Re Group abides by its responsibility for human rights: our Corporate Responsibility Report, our combined non-financial statement, our annual UN Global Compact Communication on Progress (CoP), our annual reports on the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). In line with the UK Modern Slavery Act Munich Re and relevant subsidiaries issue an annual statement on the ways in which they combat human trafficking and forced labour.

 

The compliance whistleblowing portal of Munich Re Group allows employees, clients, suppliers and other business partners to report potential or factual compliance violations. Whistleblowers can access the portal by using either the internal web or the publicly accessible Munich Re website. Employees can also report incidents to their direct managers, the Compliance Officer or Group Audit. To strengthen the compliance system further, we have appointed an independent, external ombudsperson. In this way, people can submit relevant information securely and confidentially in all major languages – globally and around the clock.
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