Responsible Sourcing

We anchor environmental and social principles in our supply chains, and work on this together with our partners.

  • What we expect from our business partners and suppliers
  • Sustainable Sourcing Process
  • Early warning system for risk markets
  • Initiatives for greater sustainability – „Together for Sustainability“

We expect our suppliers and business partners to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with our sustainability requirements. In selecting and developing our suppliers and other business partners, we also consider their performance in regard to safety, health, environment, social standards and fair business practices. This is based on our globally applicable Safety, Health and Environmental Protection (SHE) Standards that we formulated in 1997, demonstrating our commitment to assuming responsibility along the entire value chain. Our corporate purchasing standards apply worldwide, and we supplemented these with a Responsible Sourcing Policy in 2015. Our aim is that 100 percent of our procurement spend is sourced in line with our Sustainable Sourcing Policy. Compliance with the cross-sector Code of Conduct of the German Association of Materials Management, Purchasing, and Logistics (BME) is mandatory for all of Henkel’s suppliers worldwide. Henkel joined the BME in 2009, as its code is based on the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact and can therefore be used internationally. The BME code serves as the basis for contractual relationships with our strategic suppliers. This means that they have either recognized the cross-sector BME code – and hence the principles of the Global Compact – or produced their own comparable code of conduct.

Our six-stage “Sustainable Sourcing Process” is a core element of our supplier assessment approach. This focuses on two main challenges: First, ensuring that all of our suppliers comply with our defined sustainability standards. Second, we aim to purposefully work with our strategic suppliers to continuously improve sustainability standards in our value chain – for example, through knowledge transfer and continued education about process optimization, resource efficiency, and environmental and social standards. This process is an integral part of all our purchasing activities. We perform this process both at the beginning of our relationship with a supplier and as a regular check of our existing suppliers.

Overview supplier development 2015 - 2018



Supplier assessments and audits in total





Percentage of re-assessed suppliers who improved





Henkel uses an early warning system for sustainability risks in global purchasing markets. We begin by estimating the potential risks in a region or country. In doing so, we concentrate on countries identified by international institutions as being associated with heightened levels of risk. The assessment includes the criteria “human rights,” “corruption” and “legal environment.” Risk value chains are also assessed. These are industries and sectors that we consider to potentially represent a sustainability risk for our company. This helps us to identify countries and purchasing markets that may require special precautions. One example of a risk market is the purchase of raw materials for solder pastes and similar products for the electronics industry. These contain metals – mainly silver, copper and tin – to make them electrically conductive. In some countries, the mining of cassiterite (the main source of tin) is associated with military conflicts and human rights violations. For this reason, we request every
year that our direct suppliers of metals provide documentation as evidence that they do not purchase or process metals from critical regions.

In 2011, Henkel and five other companies in the chemical industry established the initiative “Together for Sustainability – The Chemical Initiative for Sustainable Supply Chains” (TfS). It is based on the principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the Responsible Care Initiative of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). The TfS initiative aims to harmonize the increasingly complex supply chain management processes with regard to sustainability and to optimize the dialog among worldwide business partners. Above all, synergies are to be created so that resources can be used more efficiently and with a minimum of administrative effort, not only among the member companies but also with all of our shared suppliers. At the heart of the initiative is the idea: “An audit for one is an audit for all.” Suppliers only have to undergo one assessment or one audit. These are conducted by independent experts. An internet platform is then used to make the results available to all members of the initiative for information and approval. Since 2014, TfS has a new legal identity: Through partnering with the Brussels-based European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), the initiative now has the status of an independent, non-profit organization. This collaboration will generate even more synergies across the chemical industry.