Our salient human rights

We regularly conduct human rights impact assessments to ensure that rights are respected in our corporate conduct and decision-making processes. These assessments are crucial to identify the most important human rights risks and design consequent actions. By considering these rights in our policies and processes, we want to contribute to a culture of respect and a fairer and more equitable society.

Our latest human rights impact assessment
The 2022 human rights impact assessment is Ørsted’s third corporate-level human rights evaluation – the first having taken place in 2015. 

This recent evaluation was facilitated by an external organisation and involved interviews with Ørsted employees from various departments and regions. It also included extensive document review and discussions with rightsholders, relevant stakeholders and experts. 

The assessment took into consideration the nature of Ørsted’s products, services, operations and technologies, as well as human rights in relevant regions throughout the value chain. By taking this comprehensive approach, we were able to identify our salient human rights areas. 

What do we mean by salient human rights? 

Salient human rights refer to the rights that are most at risk of severe negative impacts through a company's activities or business relationships. These rights are determined by factors such as the scale of harm to individuals, the scope of people affected, the difficulty in remedying the harm, and the likelihood of it occurring.

We’ve identified the following six salient human rights areas: 

Labour conditions

Everyone has the right to fair working conditions. From global working hours to competitive remuneration, we’re committed to creating a sustainable, responsible, and inclusive work environment that supports the wellbeing and growth of all employees worldwide.
  • Why is this relevant to us? 
    Fair working conditions are important to us – both in our operations and in our business partners' operations. We see fair working conditions as those that, at the very minimum, respect the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including relevant conventions. 

    According to our latest impact assessment, the labour standards at our suppliers' operations should be a key focus, particularly when it comes to contractors and subcontractors involved in construction projects. Here, there's a risk of unfair conditions, such as low wages, long working hours, and inadequate worker accommodations. We also face challenges in ensuring fair labour conditions in the maritime sector.

    Ørsted relies on suppliers who operate in various locations, which can make it difficult to ensure consistent labour standards. Some of these suppliers are based in the countries where our projects take  place, while others have multiple production sites. Many of these countries have poor labour standards and a significant number of migrant workers. In certain situations, labour rights regulations may be weak, and the government's dedication to protecting labour and human rights may be uncertain.
  • What actions have we taken so far?

    Own operations: Within our own company, we have strong policies and procedures in place to ensure fair working conditions for our employees worldwide. We’re committed to respecting human rights and complying with local laws in every country where we operate. We work closely with our local human resource colleagues to make sure that our global policies are followed locally, and we provide country-specific guidelines and involve employee representation when necessary.

    For example, we have a global policy against bullying, discrimination, and harassment. This policy is supplemented by guidelines specific to each country, taking into account the expectations and laws of that particular market. Another example is our new global parental leave policy, which sets minimum standards for caregivers worldwide. We also provide country-specific guidelines on leave entitlements in each country. In addition to these policies, we have several other global policies covering various topics related to working conditions, such as diversity and inclusion, mental wellbeing, pension and insurance benefits, sickness absence, and flexible workplace guidelines, including a commitment to global working hours.

    As we expand globally, we understand the importance of ensuring compliance with labour rights from the very beginning when we enter a new country and hire local employees. We have an internal country entry model in place to ensure that we offer fair and competitive employment terms and benefits that comply with local laws. 

    Supply chain:
    When it comes to our suppliers, we have a Responsible Business Partner program in place. This program collaborates with our suppliers and business partners to improve their social performance and adherence to our Code of Conduct for business partners. Ørsted’s Code of Conduct for business partners aligns with international human rights and labour standards, such as those set by the International Labour Organisation. The process we follow is also aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. We continuously work on improving the relevance and scope of our Code of Conduct for business partners, as well as the due diligence process we use to implement it. As part of our supplier due diligence process, we not only address specific issues with individual suppliers but also identify broader issues and develop appropriate actions to mitigate them.

  • What are our next steps?

    Own operations: As part of our efforts to create a safe and inclusive work environment, we plan to develop a global labour rights policy in collaboration with colleagues from different departments and with input from the employee representation. This policy will consolidate and outline our key commitments and expectations regarding labour rights. Our goal is to have this policy in place by  the end of 2023.

    Supply chain: We’re making changes to our supplier due diligence process. Instead of focusing solely on the geographical location of a project, we’ll now address distinct supply chain risks. We’ll also enhance our focus on social and human rights risks in the early stages of project development before supplier agreements are made. We aim to implement these changes by the end of 2023.

    One important issue we’re addressing is the risk of bullying, discrimination and harassment faced by seafarers working on contracted vessels at Ørsted's project sites. In 2023, we’ll launch a campaign against bullying, discrimination, and harassment for all* vessel suppliers working with Ørsted to mitigate these risks and promote a respectful and inclusive work environment.

    To strengthen our monitoring efforts of supplier performance, we’ll provide human rights training to quality, health, safety, and environment (QHSE) site representatives and the Marine Inspection Team in 2023. These teams have frequent on-site presence with our suppliers throughout the contract execution. The training will enhance suppliers ability to identify potential human rights risks and violations and report them to the Responsible Business Partner programme team.

    *where it makes commercial sense

Occupational health and safety 

We aim to create a safe and healthy work environment for everyone involved in our operations and supply chain, whether they are on land or at sea. We’re committed to implementing safety management systems that adhere to international standards and best practices.
  • How is this relevant to us?

    Given the nature of our business, occupational health and safety (OHS) are extremely important throughout our operations. At Ørsted, we prioritise the well-being and safety of everyone in the workplace. This is crucial in aligning with our vision of creating a world that runs entirely on green energy. To achieve this vision, it’s essential to have a robust OHS system that includes measurable performance indicators. This system applies not only to our own operations but also to our supply chain.

  • What actions have we taken so far?

    Own operations: In our quality, health, safety, and environment (QHSE) programme, we take a holistic and preventive approach to employee well-being. We prioritise mental, physical, and social health equally. Our commitment is to create a healthy, safe, and inclusive workplace and promote sustainability in our employees' working lives, and we have comprehensive measures in place to ensure this. You can learn more about these efforts in our sustainability report.  

    Supply chain: Our ONE QHSE strategic business plan focuses on six key themes: 

    1. QHSE leadership 
    2. Supplier engagement 
    3. Innovative solutions 
    4. Knowledge management 
    5. Global governance 
    6. Process excellence.
      The performance of our supply chain significantly impacts our overall QHSE performance. We assess risks and develop improvement plans with our suppliers based on their importance. We closely monitor the implementation of these plans and work together to enhance QHSE practices. From our frontline and fabrication sites to senior management meetings with suppliers, QHSE is a standard part of our agendas, demonstrating our commitment at all levels.
  • What are our next steps?
    Own operations: As we continue to grow, we’re committed to maintaining our strong health and safety performance. This means developing more resources, tools, and services to support our employees. We focus on providing leadership training and ensuring that both internal and external resources are available to all our employees.

    Supply chain: Our approach is to prioritise support for high-risk and less experienced suppliers in areas related to QHSE. We also aim to foster innovation and continuous improvement with our long-term supply chain partners. We continuously identify and address QHSE-related risks using standard risk management principles, which includes considering external sources of risk. We actively monitor and assess our suppliers' QHSE management systems. We’re also exploring ways to strengthen our approach to ensure that suppliers meet legal and Ørsted requirements in managing QHSE risks effectively.

    Moreover, we’re working on regionalising our QHSE setup to provide better support to high-risk suppliers at their respective sites. Our aim is to have QHSE support from colleagues who understand the local culture and language. In 2023, relevant QHSE teams will receive training on the Code of Conduct, specifically addressing the topic of harassment. This training will enhance their ability to identify and report cases of harassment in our supply chain. Additionally, the Responsible Business Partner programme will launch an anti-bullying, discrimination, and harassment campaign for all* vessel supplier categories at Ørsted in 2023.

    *where it makes commercial sense

Access to remedy

Access to remedy helps ensure fairness, justice, and protection for individuals and communities. It allows people to seek recourse and find a solution when they believe that their rights have been violated, promoting a more equitable and fair workplace and operating environment.

  • How is this relevant to us?
    As a global company, we operate in various countries and understand that individuals may face barriers in accessing grievance channels or receiving proper remedies. We’re committed to ensuring that everyone can access an effective grievance mechanism. This means that we have a process of escalating and addressing issues internally based on the effectiveness criteria outlined in the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. We recognise that different solutions are needed depending on the impact and where in the value chain it occurs.
  • What actions have we taken so far?
    Own operations: We prioritise creating a safe and inclusive work environment for our employees. We have implemented a global policy and local guidelines on bullying, discrimination and harassment that include a clear process for employees to report cases, and ensure transparency, consistency and support throughout our operations. We also have a Whistleblower Hotline that allows anyone affiliated with Ørsted to confidentially report inappropriate or illegal conduct. Reports are handled independently and directly reported to Ørsted’s Board of Directors to maintain transparency and protect whistle-blowers from retaliation. The number of cases is disclosed in our annual ESG report.

    Supply chain: Our Code of Conduct for business partners includes expectations for suppliers to establish accessible grievance mechanisms for workers, rights holders and stakeholders. We assess suppliers' management systems, particularly focusing on their ability to meet these requirements. If they fall short, we work together to develop improvement plans. We’ve addressed the risk of bullying and harassment and the need for an appropriate grievance mechanism in our offshore logistics supply chains through awareness campaigns targeting strategic vessel suppliers.

    Communities around our assets: We currently have market-specific solutions to receive and address concerns and complaints from communities near our assets. In several cases where fishermen were affected during the construction of our offshore wind farms, we've provided remedies.
  • What are our next steps?
    Own operations: We’ll conduct extensive rollouts of the Whistleblower Hotline at our sites worldwide, including new locations, to increase awareness of its availability. We plan to add new language options to improve accessibility by the end of 2023.

    Supply chain: Given the higher risks in the maritime sector, we focus on ensuring that vessel suppliers have effective grievance mechanisms through enhanced engagement and guidance. This will be part of an updated anti-bullying and anti-harassment campaign to be implemented later by the end 2023.

    Communities around our assets: In 2023, we’ll launch a project to establish global minimum standards for these mechanisms across our assets. The mechanism will also be accessible to workers in the supply chain, such as on-site contractors. By implementing this project, we’ll be able to track data from all our assets globally, identify potential trends and use community feedback as a due diligence tool.

Communities’ rights

We recognise that construction and operation of renewable energy assets can have large impacts on the surrounding communities. We believe that communities located near our renewable energy sites must be informed, consulted, and empowered, so that their rights are protected. This includes respecting the rights of specific or vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples, children, and others.
  • How is this relevant to us?

    Communities around our assets: As our company expands globally and adopts new technologies, it’s crucial that we focus on the risks faced by communities near our assets, including issues related to land rights and community engagement. We must pay particular attention to vulnerable groups within these communities.

    When developing and constructing new projects, we want to understand the impact on the rights of the affected communities, prevent or minimise negative impacts and address their concerns. Engaging with the communities is essential to fulfilling this commitment. Having an established global approach to community engagement and impact prevention/mitigation is even more important when entering new markets.

    Supply chain: Communities in our supply chains can experience similar or even greater impacts. The transition to green energy will require increased mining globally, which can negatively affect surrounding communities in terms of environmental pollution, loss of land, health impacts, reduced livelihoods, and food security.

  • What actions have we taken so far?

    Communities around our assets: Our Global Human Rights Policy covers the impacts on local communities, addressing topics such as land rights and indigenous peoples' rights. Our Stakeholder Engagement Policy ensures that we engage with relevant stakeholders, including communities, and mentions the concept of free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples.

    As our main focus has been to construct offshore wind farms, most of our community engagement and impact mitigation efforts have been directed towards fishermen, with whom our local teams have extensively collaborated. With our expanding geographical scope and increased focus on onshore energy projects, we anticipate a more complex nature of impacts on local communities, requiring even more engagement in the future.

    Supply chain: Our Code of Conduct for business partners outlines specific requirements for our suppliers and business partners regarding local communities, property rights, free, prior, and informed consent, grievance mechanisms, and the protection of human rights and environmental defenders. If we identify gaps in these areas during screenings and assessments of specific suppliers, we develop improvement plans and monitor their implementation.

  • What are our next steps?

    Communities around our assets: Our overall objective is to establish a consistent approach across our company for assessing and addressing human rights risks concerning local communities throughout the entire lifespan of a renewable energy project. We aim to exceed local requirements if they fall below international standards. Initially, we focus on developing and implementing a global framework consisting of three essential tools:

    1. Social and human rights impact assessments (to be done prior to every new project)
    2. Company-wide framework for collecting and managing community-level complaints (see chapter 3, Access to remedy).
    3. Internal community engagement guidelines. These ensure that we adhere universally to international best practice standards in community engagement, including free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples.

    Supply chain: We acknowledge that the mining of minerals and metals required for our projects can have adverse impacts on local communities. Through our Responsible sourcing for minerals and metals programme, we’re working towards more responsible supply chains by addressing these community impacts and other related issues.

Modern slavery

Forced labour and other forms of exploitation have no place in the modern workplace. With modern slavery risks increasing around the world, we’re exercising heightened due diligence and identifying high-risk areas, placing a strong emphasis on vulnerable workers. 
  • How is this relevant to us?
    We understand that modern slavery risks exist across all sectors, and we have identified specific areas within our value chain where workers are most vulnerable to it. These areas include raw material supply chains, on-site service providers (such as construction and facility management services), maritime sector suppliers, and locations in the APAC region where migrant workers are present.
  • What actions have we taken so far?

    Supply chain: In 2022, we updated our Code of Conduct for business partners to address modern slavery risks more directly. In addition to prohibiting forced labour, we now explicitly prohibit the charging of recruitment fees that often leads to debt bondage. We’ve also included clear requirements on accommodation to prevent workers from living in inhumane conditions.

    In response to concerns raised through internal and external channels in the APAC region, we’ve conducted targeted screenings of individual suppliers. Through this process, we’ve identified risks that are systemic to the industry and require broader collaboration to address effectively. We’re seeking partnerships with other end-users of the Singapore marine sector to tackle these challenges together.

    To address the issue of forced labour in the supply chains of solar panels, which has become more apparent in recent years, we actively engage in industry initiatives aimed at finding solutions that benefit the entire industry. For example, we’re part of SolarPower Europe's supply chain transparency working group, supporting the development of the Solar Stewardship Initiative, which aims to establish a responsible solar value chain.

    In the US, we’ve joined the Solar Energies Industry Association. Internally, we’ve developed a solar sourcing strategy to mitigate supply chain risks and strengthen the traceability of key components of solar panels.

  • What are our next steps?

    Supply chain: In the first quarter of 2023, we began collaborating with other end-users of the Singaporean marine sector. Together, we visited Singapore to introduce our collaboration to important stakeholders and identify systemic challenges in addressing significant risks in the supply chain.

    Our group of companies will engage with various stakeholders, such as government representatives, companies, and unions, to address issues related to migrant workers in the Singaporean economy.

    In the coming years, we aim to develop a more comprehensive approach to combat modern slavery in our projects and value chain by taking the following steps:

    1. Conduct a baseline assessment on selected sites in relevant markets when the presence of migrant workers will be identified. This will help us better understand the extent of the risk of unethical recruitment that leads to debt bondage.
    2. Implement targeted competence-building programmes for employees in high-risk regions and categories to raise awareness of modern slavery risks.

Human rights defenders

Environmental and human rights defenders face increasing legal and physical threats globally. We’re committed to raising awareness and taking preventive measures to ensure that no individuals are intimidated or threatened in any way related to our business activities.
  • How is this relevant to us?
    According to the Human Rights & Business Resource Centre, the renewable energy sector is the third most dangerous sector for environmental and human rights defenders, accounting for 10 % of global attacks on defenders. We understand that renewable energy projects can impact nearby communities, and it's crucial for us to take additional preventive measures to ensure that no individuals are intimidated or threatened in any way related to Ørsted's business activities, whether by our employees, (sub)contractors or local/state actors.
  • What actions have we taken so far?

    We’ve incorporated specific references to the protection of environmental and human rights defenders in our policies:

    • Our Stakeholder Engagement Policy, which guides our local engagement efforts and emphasises the importance of cooperation with local communities regarding the impacts on them and the environment.
    • Our Human Rights Policy, which explicitly states that we won't retaliate against human rights or environmental or indigenous defenders who lawfully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful protest, or assembly. 
    • Our Code of Conduct for business partners, which stipulates that suppliers and joint venture partners must protect environmental human rights defenders and other interested parties who exercise their legal right to freedom of speech.
  • What are our next steps?
    In the coming years, we’re committed to further ensuring the implementation of the commitments outlined in our policies. As part of our programme that works with community impact, we’ll place a strong emphasis on the protection of environmental and human rights defenders. We’ll provide training to our colleagues involved in community and stakeholder engagement in the markets where we operate to raise awareness and understanding of the protection of environmental and human rights defenders.

Next steps

We’ll publish more information about our human rights due diligence process in the second half of 2023.

If you have any questions about our human rights work, please feel free to contact us at responsiblepartners@orsted.com

Key groups of rightsholders across Ørsted’s value chain


Indigenous peoples around our supply chain


Supply chain workers


Local communities around our supply chain

4Own employees

Indigenous peoples around our projects


Supply chain workers


Supply chain workers




Offshore workers


Human rights defenders


Local communities around our projects


Local communities around our projects


A green transformation that works for people

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