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Respecting human rights

Our commitment

Our Group's Code of Conduct

Our commitment to respect human rights is part of our Group’s Code of Conduct. It articulates our basic values and the key rules of conduct by which we abide to help ensure that we conduct our business activities in accordance with the highest ethical, legal and professional standards.

We respect the protection of international human rights within our sphere of influence, and will work hard to ensure that we are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Zurich is committed to fair and responsible business and prohibits all forms of bribery, or corruption and any business conduct that could create the appearance of improper influence.

Our Code of Conduct applies to all employees of Zurich, its subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide1. In addition, third parties who work on Zurich’s behalf, such as consultants, advisers, service suppliers, or agents, must comply with the provisions of our Code as specified in their contractual agreements with us. All Zurich employees must read, understand and adhere to this code of conduct and abide by the provisions set forth.

1Excluding Farmers, which follows Farmers Code of Business Ethics


Zurich’s commitment to live up to the principles of the UN Global Compact

By signing the United Nations Global Compact in 2011, we are committed to aligning our strategy, culture and day-to-day operations with the Global Compact’s ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Six of the ten UN Global Compact principles relate to human rights.

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
  • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor;
  • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labor; and
  • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation

Our responsibility as insurer

Zurich supports all sectors of the economy through its insurance and investment activities. As part of our work with corporate customers to help them manage corporate responsibility risks, Zurich uses a three-step approach that systematically detects, assesses, and mitigates major environmental, social and ethical risks that are inherent in specific business transactions. We pay special attention to transactions that might contravene human rights and forced labor. These are transactions that could:

  • Contribute to human rights abuses such as involuntary relocation of local communities, inappropriate use of force or adverse impacts on vulnerable indigenous people.
  • Support regimes, governments, government officials or other politically exposed persons in countries with poor governance (for example failed states, conflict or war zones, and ineffective rule of law) or poor human rights records.
  • Enable harmful child labor, forced labor, poor health and safety conditions and unfair remuneration.

Key areas of concern

Using our proprietary risk-profiling methodology, we have prioritized the following where human rights can be of concern:

  • Banned cluster munitions and anti-personnel land mines
  • Dam construction
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas activities
  • Thermal coal

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Our people

Equal employment, harassment-free workplace

As described in our Group’s code of conduct, Zurich maintains an environment that is respectful of all employees and free from all forms of discrimination and harassment. We take pride in the diversity of our workforce as it contributes to making Zurich an employer of choice.

Our people are the diverse men and women who together strive to make Zurich the best global insurer. We value their passion and personal integrity, and recognize those as the basis of our strength. Employees are therefore expected to treat one another with respect and dignity.

Zurich does not tolerate discrimination or harassment in the workplace, including on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, national origin, gender, race, color, religion, marital status, sexual orientation or other perceived differences. These principles extend to all employment decisions including recruiting, training, evaluation, promotion and reward.

Zurich encourages its employees to speak up if they have been a victim of, or have witnessed, discrimination, harassment or bullying.

Zurich recognizes the right of its employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining. All employees have the right to freely form and join groups for the promotion and protection of their employment interests.

Zurich does not tolerate any form of forced, compulsory or child labor. The above principles are in accordance with the internationally recognized core employment standards of the International Labour Organization.

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Health and safety

Zurich employees generally work in low risk environments and are not exposed to significant health and safety hazards. Nevertheless, Zurich adopts a systems-based approach to managing health and safety risks in a structured and consistent way across all its operations, and there is a global program in place to ensure that we continually improve our health and safety performance.

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Our responsibility as investor

We believe that proactively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, including human rights, in our investing will help us to do our job well on a long-term basis.

Through impact investing, Zurich can help fund solutions to some of the pressing social or environmental issues of our time. We have a direct interest in sustainable global economic growth and supporting communities in becoming more resilient to environmental and social challenges. Impact investments can help address these issues through their targeted, positive impact, and also offer a financial return commensurate with risks.

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Working with suppliers

We aim to work with suppliers who share our values, and we expect high standards of business conduct from those who represent us or do business with us. Our contracts state that the supplier shall observe international labor standards as outlined in the eight International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions considered fundamental to the rights of human beings at work including:

  • Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor;
  • Elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation; and
  • Effective abolition of child labor.

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Working with communities

Through investment from the Z Zurich Foundation and from our local offices around the world, we support initiatives to increase the social and/or economic strength of disadvantaged people or communities faced with physical or mental distress and increase the social and/or economic strength of disadvantaged young people.

Examples of local programs include supporting the following:

  • Mentor Sweden works with disadvantaged and at-risk young people
  • Mentor Stiftung Deutschland (Germany) runs programs aimed at helping at-risk and disadvantaged young people make positive life choices
  • Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia (AAD), a small charity that funds a variety of therapy activities in some of the residential homes on the island of Bermuda.
  • Rugby Players Ireland’s campaign ‘Tackle Your Feelings,’ aimed at changing attitudes and breaking down the stigma around mental health issues, changing behaviors and creating a movement of ‘champions’ in communities across Ireland.

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