Human Rights Initiatives

Our basic philosophy

The Nisshin Seifun Group Corporate Code of Conduct and Employee Action Guidelines contain specific provisions relating to human rights. In 2018, we brought in outside advisors to assist with the formulation of a Human Rights Policy based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
That policy, which was put into effect after its approval by the Board of Directors, applies to Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries, as well as to our business partners and all other parties involved in our business operations.
The Nisshin Seifun Group will contribute to the realization of a sustainable society by basing its business activities on respect for human rights.

Human rights promotion structure

Our human rights promotion structure includes the Human Rights Promotion Committee, which is made up of directors in charge of the HR and Labor Planning in operating companies and chaired by the Executive Officer in charge of the Human Resources & Labor Relations Division of Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. We have also established a Human Rights Promotion Office within the Personnel Division of Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. to ensure appropriate action in response to various human rights issues. In addition, Human Rights Promotion Committee have been established within Group companies. These committees monitor progress on initiatives and share views. Important matters relating to human rights are also put forward for discussion at the Group Management Meeting or Board of Directors meetings.

Human rights due diligence

Since June 2021, we have carried out human rights due diligence in order to identify and assess human rights risks that could be impacted by our business activities, and to identify important issues requiring prioritized action. This process covers the flour milling, processed food, and prepared dishes and other prepared foods businesses, which account for large shares of our sales in Japan. In June 2022, Nisshin Seifun Group, Inc. monitored activities in three business areas. We confirmed that all three business areas are progressively taking steps to address the high-risk items identified. We will continue to take action on significant risks and important issues. In November 2022, we commenced human rights due diligence for the healthcare foods business, engineering business, yeast and biotechnology business, and mesh cloth business.

Human rights due diligence processes

United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

1) Formulation of a human rights policy
Commitment and communication on human rights actions
- Formulation and release of the “Human Rights Policy” and “Appendix: Priority Issues on Human Rights”
- Implementation of internal training programs relating to the policy, and dissemination of the policy to key suppliers and business partners

2) Assessment of human rights impacts
Identification and assessment of actual and potential negative impacts on human rights
- Identification of human rights risks in operating companies

3) Implementation of remedial measures
Actions to mitigate issues based on the assessment of impacts on human rights
- Consideration and implementation of measures to mitigate and prevent issues, especially in relation to high-risk items

4) Monitoring of outcomes
Monitoring of progress on remedial measures
- Internal checking of progress on initiatives

5) Disclosure of information
Disclosure of information about human rights impacts and initiatives
- Disclosure in the Integrated Report and on the website

Human rights impact assessment process

Step 1

With the cooperation of outside experts, we conduct hearings for related units in such areas as production, development, procurement, logistics, and administration in each business segment. We identify human rights risks in each of our operating companies and its supply chain, taking business characteristics into consideration.

Step 2

We identify high-risk items by creating risk maps with the seriousness of each human rights risk on one axis and the potential for occurrence on the other. Worker health and safety and the human rights of foreign workers (technical intern trainees, specified skilled workers, etc.) are regarded as priority risk items.

Step 3

We consider and implement specific countermeasures to lower the risk level of any high-risk items identified.

Examples of high-risk items identified (flour milling business, processed food business, prepared dishes and other prepared foods business)

Existing and potential risk items identified through the aforementioned human rights impact assessment process
(Step 2)

Hazardous tasks/occupational accidents, violations of human rights of foreign workers, occupational safety and health management for logistics company workers, long/extended working hours or continuous work without days off by employees (including employees of suppliers), bribery or other corrupt practices, risks that our products and services could harm the health of consumers, harassment of workers, discriminatory language in advertising, leakage of personal information, impact of plant closures or relocations on employment, inadequate human rights education for non-regular workers.

Human Rights Risk Map

Key issues relating to human rights risks

1) Worker safety and health Main reason for prioritization:

Because the Nisshin Seifun Group operates manufacturing plants, there is a risk that health and safety could be directly impacted by hazardous tasks or occupational accidents, etc.

2) Human rights of foreign workers Main reason for prioritization:

We need to take prioritized action in relation to the human rights of foreign workers in our own plants (especially in the prepared dishes and other prepared foods segment) and those of subcontracting plants and suppliers, because of the high social importance of this issue.

Actions on key issues

Key issue Actions
1) Worker safety and health Occupational accidents
  • Implementation of PDCA cycles based on the Health and Safety Management Policy
  • Audits by Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. and third-party analyses of operating companies in Japan and overseas (at 24 sites operated by three business areas in fiscal 2023)
  • Provision of safety and health training (attended by 164 people from three business areas in fiscal 2023)

    Occupational Health and Safety

Supplier management
  • Actions to correct excessive working hours through regular dialogue with logistics companies
  • Compliance surveys to identify excessive loading or other issues at logistics companies
  • Dissemination of the Responsible Procurement Policy and Supplier Guidelines to key suppliers, implementation of CSR procurement surveys (employment formats, human rights, labor, the environment, etc.)
2) Human rights of foreign workers Working environment
  • Use of multilingual signage and illustrations to help foreign workers to understand about hazardous locations and equipment
  • Creation of multi-language manuals and notices, provision of interpreters (for key languages)
  • Training program presented by outside experts on the management of foreign workers, including human rights protection (attended by 156 people from three business areas in fiscal 2023)
Monitoring and assistance
  • Implementation of third-party CSR audits (in some plants producing prepared dishes and other prepared foods
  • Creation and administration of an assistance channel in the form of a structure capable of conveying issues to corporate management while protecting the confidentiality of people seeking assistance (e.g., an improvement suggestion box)
Raising human rights awareness of foreign workers
  • Production of Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, and Turkish versions of our human rights policy, distribution of copies to our overseas flour-milling and processed food business sites to promote awareness and assimilation of the human rights policy

Initiatives targeting other issues

Enhancing responsible marketing through actions to address discriminatory language in advertising (action on high-risk items)
  • Preventing discriminatory language in advertising, etc., through prior checking by human rights units of advertising placed by Group companies (including television, newspaper, magazine, online, and outdoor advertising)
  • Provision of training programs on discriminatory language in advertising for advertising and marketing staff (two programs presented by outside instructors in March and April 2023, attended by staff from the processed food business, the healthcare foods business, and Nisshin Seifun Group Inc.)
Strengthening action against harassment of workers (action on high-risk items)
  • Creation of new external contact point for advice about harassment in June 2022
  • Harassment prevention training presented by outside experts for newly appointed unit managers
  • Production and distribution of the Human Rights Card, showing our human rights policy and contact details for external advice hotline
Extension of human rights due diligence to overseas subsidiaries
  • Participation in and cooperation with a project led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to encourage responsible behavior by Japanese companies in overseas countries and regions

Participation in 2021 Stakeholder Engagement Programme

Nisshin Seifun Group Inc.We participated in the Human Rights Due Diligence Workshop, which was part of the 2021 Stakeholder Engagement Programme organized by the Caux Round Table (CRT) Japan Committee.
During the workshop, participants discussed a broad spectrum of human rights issues with human rights experts and representatives of NGOs and NPOs. Together with other food companies that took part in this initiativeprogramme, we also worked on the revision of the Human Rights Issues by Sector, which were formulated with reference to the Human Rights Guidance Tool developed for the United Nations Environment Programme Financial Initiative (UNEP FI). Through this activity, we helped to deepen understanding about human rights in the food sector.

2021 Human Rights Due Diligence Workshop (Stakeholder Engagement Programme)


Human rights awareness initiatives (President messages, training programs and human rights slogan campaign)

During our Human Rights Week program each December, the President of the Nisshin Seifun Group disseminates messages about the importance of respect for human rights. We also provide human rights awareness training for all officers and employees. This training covers a wide range of topics, including discrimination against the Burakumin community, workplace harassment, the improvement of understanding of LGBTQ people, and business-related human rights issues. (In fiscal 2024 we will hold a workshop on LGBTQ issues for staff.) These activities provide participants with opportunities to think about human rights as an issue that affects them personally.
In addition to this initiative, we provide yearly training programs with more focused topics for specific target groups. These groups include new graduates, mid-career recruits, new executives, and newly appointed organization managers. There is also yearly training for staff involved in the implementation of these activities.
We continually distribute various information about human rights to all employees through the “Human Rights Cafeteria” program on our internal intranet.
As a responsible marketing initiative, we also provide advertising and marketing personnel with training on advertising expression, covering topics including consideration of children and avoidance of discriminatory depictions.

Human rights training participation ratio
  FY2021 FY2022 FY2023
Human rights training participation ratio 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Each year we ask employees and their families to submit ideas for human rights slogans. These slogans are judged internally, and the best slogans are selected for sharing on the Group intranet.

Number of human rights slogans submitted
  Employees Family members Total
Number (FY2023) 4,953 247 5,200

Preventing harassment

Establishment of advice desk, harassment prevention initiatives

Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. has established a harassment advice desk to counsel employees and implement measures to resolve issues and prevent recurrences, as well as an external hotline for people affected by harassment.
We have taken steps to ensure that reports are handled appropriately so that people can use the service with peace of mind. We thoroughly inform employees that those administering the system will respect the privacy of people making reports, as well as those accused of inappropriate behavior, and that people making reports will not be disadvantaged or treated unfairly.

As part of our efforts to create an environment in which employees can seek advice and assistance at any time, we also distribute a pocket-sized “Human Rights Card” providing contact details for our helpdesk and information about our Human Rights Policy.
In addition to the establishment of a helpdesk and awareness-raising initiatives, our ongoing efforts to raise awareness and prevent harassment also include various harassment prevention items in our training programs for new executives and newly appointed organization managers. Their purpose is to deepen knowledge about how to respond to harassment reports from subordinates, and aspects of workplace environments that need particular attention from executives. Other aspects of our workplace harassment eradication efforts under the Nisshin Seifun Group Corporate Code of Conduct and Employee Action Guidelines include the compilation of prevention handbooks concerning various forms of harassment.

Number of advice requests (harassment advice desk)
  FY2021 FY2022 FY2023
Number 7 6 4

Initiatives at overseas offices

Compliance with local labor laws

All overseas offices of the Nisshin Seifun Group comply fully with international rules, including ILO standards, in their employment practices. At key offices in Asia, we have been monitoring compliance with minimum employment age regulations and conducting regular audits of age confirmation methods and the ages of actual employees since fiscal 2008.
In addition, representatives of local companies are required to check compliance with various local laws using comprehensive checklists that include working conditions, health, and safety.

Prohibition of discrimination and harassment

Our overseas subsidiaries are also working to create good working environments free from discrimination and harassment.
To prevent violations of the human rights of local employees due to differences in values and culture, we educate employees transferred to overseas subsidiaries through internal and external training programs. We also show respect for local culture, traditions, and customs. For example, in regions where prayers are an essential part of religious life, we provide prayer rooms and allow employees to take time out during working hours.
Respect for basic human rights is also a feature of our recruitment activities, which are free from discrimination based on race, gender, beliefs, or other attributes.

Assessment of risks relating to labor problems

We prevent and mitigate potential labor issues affecting our new businesses through risk assessment mechanisms, including the use of expert advice. We are working to maintain good labor-management relations in our existing business operations through regular meetings and communication with employees.