Responsible Sourcing

Our responsible sourcing approach focuses on sustainability aspects along our supply chains for the benefit of people and our planet. We develop and maintain ethical and sustainable relationships with our suppliers and supply chain partners. We focus on achieving mutual benefits and on our shared commitment to meeting or exceeding our stakeholders’ requirements. In this spirit, we carefully consider our suppliers’ performance, commitment and continuous improvement when selecting and collaborating with them.

Global supply chains are very complex – raw materials are often handled by many different companies and travel long distances before reaching their final destination. This creates challenges for companies when seeking to boost sustainability at every step in their supply chain. To accommodate these increasingly globalized value chains and complex procurement activities we, at Henkel, ensure a holistic supplier management process. Together with our business partners, we are further shaping our collaborative approach and driving this process forward.

Expectations towards our supplier base

We place the same exacting demands on our suppliers and business partners worldwide. We expect them to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with our sustainability requirements. In selecting and working with our business partners, we consider alongside key commercial and operating indicators their performance with regard to safety, health, environment, social standards and fair business practices as decisive criteria. This is based on our globally applicable Safety, Health and Environmental Protection (SHE) Standards that we formulated as early as 1997, thereby demonstrating even at that time our commitment to assuming responsibility along the entire value chain. Our Corporate Standard Purchasing continues to apply.

Compliance with the cross-sector Code of Conduct of the German Association of Materials Management, Purchasing, and Logistics (BME) is also mandatory for our suppliers worldwide. Henkel joined the BME in 2009, as its code is based on the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact and is therefore internationally applicable. Alongside our Responsible Sourcing Policy, the BME code also serves as the basis for contractual relationships with our strategic suppliers, who have either recognized the cross-sector BME code – and hence the principles of the Global Compact – or produced their own comparable.

Cooperation with strategic suppliers and partners

We collaborate intensively with our strategic suppliers to ensure the procurement of sustainable raw materials. We aim to initiate positive change throughout the value chain through joint projects for process optimization, resource efficiency, innovation, and environmental and social standards. Furthermore, Henkel has been honoring sustainable innovations by its suppliers.

Henkel has engaged in targeted dialog with its most important strategic partners on the subjects of sustainable innovations and responsible supply chains, for many years. The dialog centers on the definition and implementation of a common plan for Henkel’s sustainability goals for 2025 and beyond. We use target agreements with our strategic suppliers to manage transparency, sustainability performance and innovation potential in the area of sustainable sourcing solutions. As part of our risk management approach, we are working to improve the transparency of our upstream supply chains with regard to sustainability risks. To drive climate action across the value chain, we also require selected suppliers in the raw materials and packaging sectors to be transparent about the emissions levels of the product portfolio supplied to us. The suppliers selected for participation in this Climate Engagement Program collectively account for more than 50 percent of our Scope 3.1 footprint. We expect them to make a contribution to reducing COemissions along their supply chains in line with our science-based target for Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, we encourage sustainable innovation by engaging in dialog with suppliers and setting individual targets. This is how we ensure that focus topics such as biodegradability are systematically integrated into Henkel’s holistic approach to sustainability.

Our six-step Responsible Sourcing Process is a central element of our strategic risk management and compliance approach, which focuses on risk identification and defining appropriate measures to minimize and mitigate risk. Based on the assessment result of our suppliers’ sustainability performance we support our buyers in working with their partners to continuously improve sustainability performance in the value chain. These continuous improvement processes are based primarily on knowledge transfer and competence building with respect to process optimization, resource efficiency, and environmental and social standards. 

The Responsible Sourcing Process is an integral component of our sourcing activities. This process is initiated before the start of any new cooperation. It culminates in a recurring cycle of review, analysis and continuous improvement with existing suppliers. Using this process for the audit and assessment of the sustainability performance of our suppliers, we cover about 95 percent of our purchasing volume in the areas of packaging, raw materials, and contract manufacturing.

Henkel has a clear policy of doing business in an ethical and legal manner. This is inseparably linked with our commitment to respecting internationally acknowledged human rights. We follow ongoing human-rights-related developments very closely at both international and national level, including the National Action Plans for Business and Human Rights. We continue to develop our approach in line with the resulting expectations. In 2021, an internal cross-functional core team working across business units was established with overall responsibility to conduct a comprehensive review of our due diligence processes in consideration of the new legal requirements of German Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains [Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz], which came into force on January 1, 2023. In 2022, the engagement of the core team was strengthened, and its structure was formalized, in order to drive the implementation of targeted additions or adaptions. Since its establishment, the core team has updated and produced supplementary guidance to support the implementation of our commitments, and provided global training for internal and external stakeholders, such as suppliers.

Henkel conducts annual and ad hoc risk analyses to identify potential human rights and environmental risks. The risk analysis, which is subject to continuous improvements, serves as the basis for defining and prioritizing preventive measures.

We have identified two relevant human rights risks in our supply chain at present: raw materials based on palm oil and palm kernel oil, and raw materials from regions associated with military conflicts. We are closely monitoring these two areas with regard to their potential impact on human rights.

In order to reduce risks in the palm oil industry, we have made a commitment to procure our palm-oil-based raw materials in line with the principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). We also work closely with stakeholders along the value chain, from our suppliers to the RSPO, NGOs and smallholder farmers, to promote sustainable practices and respect for human rights.

To mitigate procurement risk from regions associated with military conflicts, including conflict minerals, we expect our suppliers to source conflict-free materials from responsible suppliers. We require our suppliers to perform due diligence on the origin and supply chain of these types of raw materials, and to provide evidence that they do not procure or process minerals from critical sources.

Henkel requests all affected suppliers to provide a completely filled and up-to-date Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) disclosing all smelters in our common supply chain showing that all these smelters participated in the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) and are verified as conformant smelter by the RMI or any other OECD recognized business initiative.

All the CMRT’s are regularly reinvestigated and updated and published company wide. For more information, please see Conflict Minerals ( and our Responsible Sourcing Policy.

Together for a sustainable supply chain

In 2011, Henkel and five other companies in the chemical industry co-founded the initiative “Together for Sustainability – Chemical Supply Chains for a Better World” (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). TfS aims to harmonize increasingly complex supply chain management processes with regard to sustainability and to optimize 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 audits and online assessments of the TfS initiative is the core idea: “An audit for one is an audit for all!”.  Suppliers then only have to undergo one assessment or one audit. The audits are carried out by a number of selected, independent audit companies. For the online assessments, TfS works with EcoVadis, a sustainability performance assessment specialist. Performance is assessed in the areas of management, environment, health and safety, labor and human rights, and issues of ethical corporate governance. The TfS initiative has grown strongly in recent years and consists of more than 40 members that are internationally operating chemical companies.

In September 2020, TfS launched its new strategic framework “TfS Grow&Deliver.” This new strategy builds on the initiative’s past achievements and will pivot TfS from an initiative focused on measurement to a community that delivers tangible impact. TfS members will continue their commitment to promoting higher standards, as well as improving the insights and data gathered from assessments and audits. This will enable TfS to train suppliers in topics and areas that offer the largest potential sustainability impact. TfS has also decided to expand its work in emerging markets such as China and India. Taking collaborative action is another building block for the new strategy. In this way, TfS aims to further extend its contribution to sustainability. On top of this, fostering the TfS community is another key factor that will enable TfS to achieve its aims.

Responsible Sourcing together with our partners

Henkel is additionally a member of AIM-PROGRESS, a forum of companies from the consumer goods industry. The objective here is also to encourage member companies to share experiences in the area of sustainable sourcing and utilize synergies. The forum also focuses on holding regional supplier events to communicate and improve CSR performance within the value chain.
In line with our strong belief in the power of multi-stakeholder and cross-industry initiatives, we are also a founding member of the “Action for Sustainable Derivatives” (ASD). It brings together organizations from along the palm oil derivative supply chain to support efforts to increase transparency and promote compliance with NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation) principles, with the overall aim of positively transforming the palm oil industry.