Jun 16, 2015 • By

Our commitment to human rights

As a company, we believe that societies, economies and businesses thrive when human rights are protected and respected. To that end, respect for human rights has been fundamental to our company values and mission for nearly 150 years.

Today, we announced a global policy statement on human rights, which outlines our beliefs, policies and practices related to advancing human rights and our commitment to ethical business conduct.

While the content of the policy statement is not new, this marks the first time we have published our existing commitments and practices in one document.

I sat down with Catherine Gunsbury, director of sustainability and transparency at General Mills, who led the development of the policy statement to learn more about what it includes and how it will be used.

Why is General Mills releasing a Human Rights Policy Statement today?

Catherine: Transparency is imperative to building and maintaining trust with our employees, our business partners and the people who buy our products. Our aim with the human rights policy statement is to communicate more transparently about our commitments to human rights and how we are approaching them.


Does the policy statement outline any new commitments or practices for the company?

Catherine: It does not. Within our company and throughout our supply chain, we have been and continue to be committed to treating people with dignity and respect for decades. This policy statement simply articulates our beliefs and existing commitments in one, public-facing document.

Does this policy statement change the way we do business around the world?

Catherine: The statement by itself will not change how we do business. However, our business practices will continue to evolve in the area of human rights, especially as it relates to our global and extended supply chain.

For example, through our 10×20 commitment to sustainably source 100 percent of our top 10 ingredients by 2020, we are building capabilities that enable us to assess and address potential human rights impacts throughout our extended supply chain. In the developing world, we work directly with smallholder farmers from whom we source ingredients to help strengthen their farming practices and their livelihoods, ensure safe and healthy working conditions and that they are fairly compensated.


How does General Mills plan to address human rights impacts with the new policy statement?

Catherine: As part of our commitment to respect human rights, we have established internal and external mechanisms to help identify and mitigate potential issues throughout our supply chain. Many of these mechanisms are integrated into our operations already through existing policies such as our Employee Code of Conduct, Supplier Code of Conduct, Climate Change Policy and Water Stewardship Policy, among others. We regularly review the content and application of these policies to ensure our employees and business partners are in compliance with our commitments.

What do you hope people will take away from the release of this new policy statement?

Catherine: I want people to understand that General Mills gets the importance of human rights to our business and is paying attention. The policy statement demonstrates our ongoing efforts to strengthen our business practices and treat the world with care. In many ways, it is our purpose in action; an example of how we serve the world by making food people love.

To learn more about General Mills’ ongoing human rights practices, visit

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