Human Rights Report: putting people centre stage

ABN AMRO published its first Human Rights Report in 2016. We were the first bank in the world to report using the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. Much has happened since then.

We have, for example, partnered with other banks, NGOs, trade unions and the Dutch government in the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on International Responsible Business Conduct regarding Human Rights between 2016 and 2019.

Respecting  human rights is a job that’s never done. At ABN AMRO, it’s becoming less theoretical and more strongly embedded in everyday practice. This is clearly reflected in our 2019 and 2017 Human Rights Update, which focused on the experiences and views of our own people. The 2019 Human Rights Update was published in March 2020, together with ABN AMRO’s Integrated Annual Review.

We published  our second Human Rights Report in February 2019. The report describes the progress made in the past two years and the bank’s ambitions to further strengthen its human rights policy. 

While we are committed to making a positive contribution to society and to respecting human rights, we acknowledge that we may also be connected to practices that compromise human rights. We believe it is important for a bank to look at its business operations from this perspective. Collaboration is key. Joining forces with clients, trade unions, inspectorates, government, NGOs, other banks and regulators brings solutions closer and potentially has a far greater impact. 

To explain our impact more clearly, we have framed our Human Rights Report around four roles: employer, service provider, lender and investment services provider. In the report, we elaborate on the ways in which we respect our clients' and employees' rights, as well as on how we approach this matter regarding companies we fund or in which we invest on behalf of clients. We also go into detail about the dilemmas we have come across, and aspects in which we have some more progress to make.

The salient issues

In this Human Rights Report we answer the question as to how ABN AMRO handles the four human rights issues that are most important to us. These ‘salient issues’ are the human rights at risk of the most severe negative impact through our activities and business relationships.

  • Privacy 
    Abuse or loss of client data, by ABN AMRO or third parties. 
  • Discrimination
    in the provision of services to potential clients or against ABN AMRO staff. 
  • Labour rights
    of ABN AMRO’s own workforce, and the workforce of corporate clients and companies we invest in on behalf of private clients. 
  • Land-related human rights 
    of local communities and indigenous peoples in relation to corporate clients or companies we invest in on behalf of private clients.

The bank as a driver of change

We continuously strive to enhance respect for human rights – within the bank and beyond. One initiative, for example, are the Responsible Ship Recycling Standards, which ABN AMRO has developed with other banks. When financing ships, we ask our clients to draw up an inventory of hazardous materials, and we require them to dismantle their vessels at shipyards where labour rights and environmental standards are respected. The Human Rights Report highlights this and four other cases where ABN AMRO has contributed to promoting respect for human rights in the financial sector and society at large. The report ends with a series of concrete goals the bank has set itself.