to ensure security protocols are aligned with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights by 31.12.2022
of our directly hired security personnel at operationally-controlled industrial sites to be trained on security and human rights
Assess salient issues
across Vitol activities by 31.12.2023
Implement third year
of our group human rights governance and reporting plan
Finalise human rights impact assessment
for owned vessels and report on this in the 2022 ESG report
A 10% annual reduction
in the TRIR in 2022 compared with 2021
A 10% annual reduction
in the LTIF in 2022 compared with 2021
A 10% annual reduction
in tier 1 process safety events in 2022 compared with 2021
Calum Forrest, global head of HR and chief of staff for EMEA
I joined Vitol over 15 years ago from a global investment bank. Since then our business has changed a great deal.
Our headcount has grown by almost 300% and we’ve moved from being very much a pure trader into an asset owner and, more recently, expanded our range of businesses and products into renewables and sustainable fuels.
What is Vitol’s approach to its people?
Our people are our business. They are a key differentiating factor that drives our success. It is their ideas, dedication and the way they work together, day in and day out that makes a big difference.
We have a flat, meritocratic organisational structure which we believe facilitates an entrepreneurial and collaborative ethos, where people are focused on delivering results efficiently and safely in a positive, enabling environment.
What kind of people work at Vitol?
Our people comprise entry-level hires that have gone on to assume commercial responsibilities, management and leadership roles, as well as ‘lateral hires’ recruited directly from the market into mid-level or more senior positions.
We try to hire people who are the best at what they do but at the same time who fit with our culture.
How does the company think about diversity?
Diversity is good for business. Our colleagues comprise people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and insights, which in turn contributes to improved decision making as well as more robust and sustainable business practices and relationships. Vitol’s team comprises more than 65 nationalities and is committed to developing and sustaining a diverse work environment. To succeed Vitol needs the best people and these are to be found only by searching across the full breadth of race, religion, gender, age and sexual orientation. Vitol is building a diverse workforce for the future, in particular by attracting diverse talent at entry-level and developing that talent with a view to achieving greater diversity among our senior leadership in time. To ensure the best talent is attracted and retained the following specific policies have been adopted:
- Vitol partners with multiple executive search firms and recruitment companies, all of which are required to produce as diverse a slate of qualified candidates as possible at the graduate and experienced level
- We partner with some firms and organisations that have particularly strong networks among historically under-represented groups
- Employees are actively encouraged to suggest lateral hires and in particular hires from diverse backgrounds
- Qualified ethnic minority candidates are offered interviews as a matter of policy
- Targeted university outreach programme
Finally, and most importantly, colleagues must feel they operate in an inclusive environment that encourages and supports difference.
How does the company support career-long learning?
Our people are afforded the opportunity to learn from some of the most capable professionals in the industry. Our ‘apprenticeship culture’ is supplemented throughout a career at Vitol by a series of classroom and online offerings focused on enhancing specific skills and technical capability, as well as business and market knowledge. This may also include selective sponsorship to external programmes at leading universities. Beyond structured learning, international stretch assignments at various points in the career cycle are facilitated to ensure our people are well placed to advance in a global setting. An annual performance evaluation enables performance and career development to be assessed in detail with management and goals to be agreed. Regular ongoing feedback is also encouraged. There are formal and informal mentoring initiatives as well as global ‘high-potentials programmes’ and our people have access to senior leaders across the organisation through a structured ‘business briefing’ series. Moreover, leadership development and coaching are offered by invitation to ensure the next generation is equipped to lead our business and the organisation into the future.
You’ve mentioned the importance of culture; what is Vitol’s culture?
Vitol’s culture is integral to the business and, we believe, a positive differentiator. It characterises the way we work, creates an optimal working environment and underpins our success. It is owned by the board who very much lead by example.
The origins of our culture go back over 50 years to the original founders and their combination of entrepreneurship, determination to succeed, integrity, hard work and humility. As Vitol has grown, its leadership has worked hard to preserve and evolve the elements it believes to be both the foundations of a successful business and conducive to a pleasant and constructive working environment. Our limited hierarchy enables the leadership team to have a good understanding of who our people are, how they work, as well as what they achieve.
Where can we find out more about how Vitol expects is employees to behave?
The code of conduct outlines how we expect our employees to behave in given circumstances, as well as the company’s commitment to its employees. We also have a set of behaviours which we expect our employees to follow and enact.
We behave honestly, responsibly and in good faith
We are respectful and considerate of others
We strive to do our best and be the best we can be
We seize opportunity, work hard for success and own our decisions
We work as a team
A snapshot of Vitol employees
ETHNICITY (US OFFICES)
EMPLOYEES BY REGION
1 Professionals are employees who have risk and/or decision-making discretion, significant impact on commercial outcome, or require a professional qualification to perform their roles.
Vitol respects the right of individuals to be part of a trade union. However, in practice, very few Vitol employees belong to professions represented by a trade union and today Vitol employees are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Employees of some of the companies in which we are invested are, depending on the nature of their work or industry.
Vitol benchmarks its remuneration policies to ensure they are competitive and in line with the market. It monitors remuneration within the organisation to ensure that a colleague’s role, performance, and alignment with our behaviours are the only determinants of their remuneration. It fully complies with all gender parity laws in the jurisdictions in which it operates.
This section covers our social performance over the last three years and includes information on metrics such as health, safety, process safety, road safety and high potential incidents.
The safety of our workforce, contractors and the communities in which we operate is a priority. The latter facilitates good health, wellbeing, decent work and responsible production and helps to achieve UN SDGs.
We recognise that with our investments comes a level of environmental and social risk, which needs to be carefully managed. We primarily focus on monitoring and prevention efforts within our investments, with an overall philosophy of zero-harm, although we recognise incidents can occur. Analysis of our E&S KPIs supplemented with our audit programme facilitate this effort. Our E&S framework and philosophy also includes a commitment to report, investigate and learn from incidents and near misses.
Regrettably, one contractor lost their life during 2021 at an upstream asset operated by a service provider for a company in which Vitol holds a non-controlling interest. We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss. A detailed Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA) was undertaken and the corrective actions fully implemented. We are committed to learning from this event to prevent reoccurrence.
The main safety metrics that we monitor and analyse are the Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) and the Lost-Time Injury Frequency (LTIF). The TRIR sums the number of employee and contractor work-related Medical Treatment Cases (MTCs), Restricted Work Injuries (RWIs), Lost Time Injuries (LTIs) and Fatalities per million work hours. Our TRIR definition is fully aligned with that of the IOGP. The LTIF is the total employee and contractor work-related LTIs, excluding fatalities, per million-person hours worked and is aligned with the GRI indicator for ‘high consequence injuries’. We include all LTIs regardless of severity.
Our TRIR across all investments remained at 1.18 for 2021 as in 2020, which is positive given that an increased number of investments and operations are reporting data. The 2021 LTIF has moved from 0.48 in 2020 to 0.57 in 2021, an increase of approximately 18%. Unfortunately, we did not meet our target of a 10% year-on-year reduction in both the TRIR and LTIF across all investments. The TRIR and LTIF increases from 2019 can be explained by more accurate and comprehensive reporting over the last three years across our operations and the companies in which we are invested. For controlled investments alone, we experienced a decrease in the TRIR and LTIF of 57% and 19% in 2021 versus 2020 respectively. This is a strong performance which we will work hard to continue.
Investigations are required of all serious incidents and high potential near misses and where possible lessons disseminated across our network of E&S managers. In our shipping operations, LSC undertakes comprehensive analysis of root causes from incidents that have occurred on ships under our technical management and draws out trends and programmes to avoid reoccurrence.
We will always maintain our target of zero fatalities and have retained our initial target of a 10% year-on-year reduction in both the TRIR and LTIF.
Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR)
Lost time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIF)
1 IOGP (2020) IOGP safety performance indicators (overall TRIR for 2020).
2 Concawe (2020) European downstream oil industry safety performance. Statistical summary of reported incidents 2020. Report No. 6/21. Brussels: Concawe. (All Injury Frequency (AIF) for all sectors).
Vitol’s 2021 TRIR performance of 1.18 compares favourably with the equivalent metric for Concawe (1.52) and a blended average of a selection of our peers and one energy major (2.76). We continue to focus on improving our TRIR.
High potential incidents and near miss reporting
Reporting across all businesses in which Vitol is invested has continued to improve during 2021. All companies are now reporting near misses, unsafe acts or unsafe conditions. Employees and contractors are encouraged to report these events and recognise and prevent any unsafe acts or conditions. The reporting frequency of unsafe acts, unsafe conditions, near misses and significant near misses per million work hours has increased by 80% compared with 2020.
The number of high-potential incidents and significant near misses reported increased by 91% in 2021, similar to our 2019 performance. These are defined as any incident or near miss that could have realistically resulted in: one or more fatalities or severe injuries, extensive damage to structure, installation or plant (>$100k), or large-scale impact on the environment. We have increased our focus on learning from these incidents. Companies in which we are invested share investigations or root cause failure analyses in relation to the latter. Relevant information is shared in the Vitol E&S network. Vitol has developed a register of these events and will focus on analysing and understanding trends in underlying and root causes.
All investment companies are encouraged to have a process in place to report, investigate and learn from E&S incidents and high potential near misses to ascertain root causes and avoid reoccurrence.
In order to continue to encourage employees and contractors to report all near misses and hazards, we will aim to increase the near miss and hazardous situations reporting frequency rate year-on-year.
The Road Traffic Incident Frequency (RTIF) remained at 0.33 road incidents per million kilometres driven in 2021. This compares favourably with the equivalent Concawe metric for the European downstream oil industry of 0.411 and an average rate of a selection of our peers of 0.65 in 2020. All contractor incidents are included in the RTIF.
Vitol, via our operations department, compliance and E&S teams, has continued to undertake due diligence on new hauliers. We screen through compulsory supplier and contractor questionnaires provided by the compliance department followed by more in-depth due diligence largely carried out by operations with E&S support. This has enabled us to keep abreast of any local changes or requirements caused by the Covid pandemic. Trucks continue to be inspected by our hauliers as part of inspection and maintenance programmes. The Vitol truck vetting standard aims to ensure that trucks used to transport our products are fit for purpose. Globally, this work and effort directly contributes to target 3.6 under UN SDG 3 to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents. We continue to include more and more of our haulier and contracted trucking operations in our E&S KPI data to improve our understanding and management of risks to employees and operations.
2 Concawe (2020) European downstream oil industry safety performance. Statistical summary of reported incidents 2020. Report No. 6/21. Brussels: Concawe. (Road Accident Rate (RAR) all sectors).
The occupational illness indicator was developed and rolled out across our investment companies in 2021. The occupational illness frequency rate (OIFR) is the number of work-related occupational illnesses per million hours worked. This was 0.06 in 2021. Illnesses are recorded in the period they were recognised by the relevant health authority or practitioner. In 2022 we will continue to monitor this data and assess if any intervention programmes are required.
Investment companies and offices took a variety of measures during the year to control and reduce the potential spread of Covid. Thorough protocols have been implemented to prevent the spread across vessels under our technical management. Vitol’s Geneva office offered a testing service twice a week for all employees and visitors. We will remain vigilant and adapt our approach to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all employees, contractors and visitors to our investments and offices.
Process safety events
Tier 1 Process Safety Events (PSE1) are unplanned or uncontrolled releases of material which result in severe consequences for a worker, the community, the company or the environment as specified in API RP754 (American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice 754). A tier 2 Process Safety Event (PSE2) event results in less severe consequences.
We experienced zero PSE1 and one PSE2 at our controlled investments in 2021, which is a strong performance. At our non-controlled investments, the number of PSE1 increased from 4 to 10, when comparing 2020 with 2021. However, the number of PSE2 decreased from 37 to 17 over the same timeframe. The latter meant that we did not meet our target of a 10% reduction in the number PSE1 and PSE2 in 2021 versus 2020 across all companies.
We have since developed a register of all PSE1 events and continue to review investigations and follow up to ensure lessons are learned from each incident. The target for 2022 is a 10% reduction in PSE1 compared with 2021.
Number of process safety events at non Controlled Investments
Number of process safety events at non Controlled Investments
Working with renewable natural gas from landfill
An investment which is aligned with a core strategy of building strategic relationships with leading low-carbon energy producers to participate in the development of low-carbon energy product markets.
Two billion tonnes of waste are generated annually, 70% of which ends up in landfill. Over a 20-year period, landfill waste emits methane, a gas with a warming potential 84 times greater than CO2.
In 2021 Vitol invested in a European company, Waga Energy, which has developed a unique model to capture landfill gas, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and produce a renewable substitute for fossil-based natural gas.
Vitol will take the renewable natural gas to market, via the pipeline grid and LNG, thereby replacing fossil fuel gas with gas generated from waste and reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and methane releases from landfill.
Human rights are an integral part of Vitol’s ESG approach and risk management framework.
We recognise that our activities may positively or adversely impact human rights and are committed to continuously improving our standards and procedures. Human rights risks vary according to business activities, geographies and other factors relevant to individual situations and different contexts. It is a complex and important matter for Vitol to manage.
This section of the report sets out what Vitol is doing to implement its commitment to human rights, notably in the context of the following UN SDGs:
This section outlines how we are working with our own employees, business relationships, and other stakeholders to strengthen our understanding of potential impacts and address identified risks.
Ongoing due diligence and embedding human rights
Vitol’s minimum expectations in relation to human rights are set out in our E&S framework.
To implement our human rights commitments, we developed a five-year human rights governance and reporting plan which defines Vitol’s pragmatic and risk-based approach to implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). We are developing programmes to promote respect for human rights in our own activities and business relationships. For instance, our responsible security programme outlines that our security service providers should respect human rights while protecting our investments. This includes our own security employees and contracted service providers. As Vitol has activities in over 100 countries, we apply a tailored due diligence process. This is specific to the commodity in question and related known risks, the geographic location, our partners’ capabilities to manage risks, whether we have operational control, and other factors.
The aim is to improve gradually how we systematically and rigorously identify, prevent, mitigate, track, and remediate potential or actual impacts on our people and our business relationships. It includes an ongoing mapping of potential impacts, developing procedures to address identified risks and embedding these requirements into our operations and business relationships. Concurrently we established risk-based processes to monitor the respect of our commitments.
2021 was the second year of the implementation of the human rights governance and reporting plan. Key focus areas for 2022 are to further:
- Assess our salient issues
- Identify and address potential human rights impacts on our own vessels
- Align the security protocols of our operationally-controlled industrial sites with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR).
Identifying and assessing impacts
As with all business activity, Vitol’s business relationships are subject to the compliance programme and are covered by the Know Your Customer (KYC) policy. The KYC policy ensures Vitol’s counterparties, trading and non-trading, have been vetted before we enter into a contractual relationship. This also includes an assessment of potential and actual human rights issues. The KYC process allows us to identify issues early in our business relationships and act upon findings. If issues are identified we seek to mitigate risks in the most appropriate manner, for example inserting specific contractual clauses and where appropriate agreeing an action plan with the counterparty to improve processes. In the case of non-responsiveness from a counterparty, as a last resort, we will decide to not enter into a commercial relationship if a remediation plan cannot be agreed.
Human rights reviews
The governance section outlines our approach to ESG auditing. Under the human rights review programme, we assess the companies in which we are invested against our human rights commitments in the E&S framework. This includes risk identification and the maturity level of the governance structures to prevent and address potential human rights impacts.
Salient human rights issues are those “human rights at risk of the most severe negative impact through our activities and business relationships”.1
These vary according to sector and operating context. The concept of salient human rights issues should be seen from the perspective of risk to the rightsholder.
Vitol initiated a high-level mapping of its activities and business relationships to document actual and potential human rights impacts and vulnerable groups. The mapping is ongoing and the salient issues assessment will be finalised in 2023. The mapping provides us with a long list of potential impacts which may occur in our business activities, supply chains, and different geographical contexts, which underpins our prioritisation process. It also includes desktop research and involves engaging with internal, and in some instances, external stakeholders. It helps to focus resources in those areas where our risk to people is potentially most severe. As the business continues to evolve, we will review our salient issues at relevant intervals. Even though our primary efforts and resources will be allocated to our salient issues, we are cognisant of other risks.
Areas we already have identified as potential salient issues include:
- Health and safety in our own activities and business relationships
- Seafarers’ working conditions and wellbeing
- Security and human rights
- Working conditions in supply chains for certain business relationships
1 As defined by the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework
Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs)
HRIAs are an evidence-based process in which potentially affected groups are engaged to identify potential and actual human rights impacts. Our HRIA methodology is based on international standards and guidance materials, such as the UNGPs and the Human Rights Impact Assessment Guidance and Toolbox developed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Undertaking HRIAs and developing mitigation measures based on their findings will further develop our understanding of how our operations and those of our business relationships are impacting human rights. Part of our process involves engagement with rightsholders and external stakeholders, to identify vulnerable groups, and to collect their perspectives on actual and potential impacts as required by the UNGPs.
HRIAs also help us to strengthen our understanding around our salient human rights issues. New learning and insights gained through implemented HRIAs will be continuously integrated within our due diligence processes and assessment methodology.
HRIAs are undertaken in activities that are core to our business, in which we anticipate salient issues to be present and where we have leverage to mitigate or remediate issues, where they occur. HRIAs will be repeated after five years if no severe impacts and good management of salient issues are identified, or after three years if medium to high impacts are observed. HRIAs are conducted by Vitol employees who are independent of the investment they are evaluating and with independent translators to foster trust and engagement by rightsholders.
Vitol's Human Rights Approach
Identifying and addressing salient issues across our shipping activities
Vitol is a physical energy trader and operates as both ship owner and charterer, undertaking around 6,650 voyages per year. Our initial focus has been on operationally-controlled vessels.
In 2021 Vitol piloted its first HRIA in part of its shipping business. We developed and tested our methodology and will further refine our assessment methodology based on the learning from this pilot. The scope of the HRIA covered seafarers working on Vitol-owned ships, managed by our technical manager LSC. Seafarers have been identified as one of the groups in our operations who are at a heightened risk of adverse human rights impacts. The following factors contribute to enhanced levels of risk:
- Seafarers working under temporary contracts and travelling for work
- Occupational health and safety risks, including passing through high-risk areas prone to piracy
- Isolated work environments and constraints around leaving the work environment
- Adverse impacts caused by the Covid pandemic
At LSC, our technical management company, compliance with internationally recognised seafarers’ human rights are ensured by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC-2006), a robust Safety Management System and compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Standard (ISO45001). All ships are subject to Flag State and Port State Control inspections for compliance with MLC-2006 and external audits by Lloyd’s Register for compliance with ISO. All of the vessels owned by Vitol and managed by LSC are covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Vitol undertook an HRIA to assess actual and potential human rights impacts and how those are managed. We engaged with approximately 60 stakeholders including lower rank seafarers, office management and external stakeholders such as third-party crewing agents and trade unions.
Seafarers were asked how frequently they experience an impact, their perception of its severity and the importance of it being addressed. The pandemic contributed to increased contract durations for seafarers, had an impact on the frequency of crew changes and shore leave, required quarantine measures, and resulted in exposure to health risks, which impacted crew membersʼ wellbeing in certain instances. The seafarers we engaged with highlighted that they felt LSC management tried its best in light of the situation. Generally, seafarers felt safe with the measures LSC applied. The greatest health risk from their perspective came from port staff coming onboard vessels without wearing masks.
LSC management was aware of most topics raised during the HRIA which confirmed good communication methods across all levels of the organisation. Following the HRIA, Vitol and LSC developed a plan to address the topics raised by the seafarers. Most of the impacts raised were already being addressed by LSC and related to issues they faced at the beginning of the outbreak of the pandemic; an unprecedented situation to manage for LSC. Mental health and crew welfare have always been a keen focus of LSC but due to the unique situation of the Covid pandemic, LSC could not always facilitate crew changes in a timely manner due to port restrictions or unavailability of charter flights. LSC has always taken a proactive approach to crew management and whenever possible, the company deviated vessels to disembark seafarers, including those who required mental health support, and chartered private planes to facilitate crew changes at the limited locations that were possible at the height of the pandemic.
The HRIA also provided us with an opportunity to understand what seafarers appreciate at LSC. According to seafarers, positive impacts on their health and wellbeing were fostered by free and fast internet to communicate with family and friends, diverse gym equipment, good food, a friendly and family-like working environment, the positive attitude of the crewing department to frequently accommodate seafarer requests, and good career prospects.
Seafarer happiness and satisfaction surveys
Seafarer wellbeing is one of the focal topics of LSC. The pandemic has brought to light the importance of the work LSC does in this area. LSC regularly engages with its crew members to understand their wellbeing and happiness when at sea as well as ashore. The Seafarer Happiness Index (SHI) and the post-contract satisfaction surveys are two tools LSC uses for wellbeing analysis. Seafarers can also call an anonymous hotline to report any grievances with regards to their wellbeing or malpractices when at sea, or reach out to their trade union for support. .
The SHI benchmarks seafarer satisfaction levels with life at sea and against peers. The SHI is an anonymous, annual survey, covering a range of topics including mental health, wellbeing, working life and family contact. 389 LSC crew members participated in the SHI in 2021. Overall LSC seafarer satisfaction rates are higher in all areas compared with peers. The average happiness rate has decreased slightly versus the 2020 survey results. This change is likely due to the global pandemic and the challenging circumstances around being able to go ashore due to governmental port restrictions and risks of seafarers contracting Covid. The results of the Vitol HRIA also confirmed the latter.
Despite the difficult situation caused by the pandemic, satisfaction has increased in three areas compared with 2020:
- Keeping fit and healthy on board
- Interaction with other crew on board
- Welfare when ashore
In addition to the SHI, each crew member can voluntarily complete an anonymous satisfaction survey on completion of their contract. Through these surveys, LSC management gains insight into the satisfaction level across various elements of their jobs at sea including accommodation, onboard medical care, opportunities for promotion and crewing levels. Crew members can also recommend what could be done to improve their life at sea.
LSC uses the results of the SHI and its post-contract satisfaction surveys to prioritise actions to increase seafarer wellbeing. In 2021 cooks were trained to improve diversity of meals and to meet seafarers’ food preferences. In addition, food allowances per vessel were increased by 10%. For 2022, LSC plans to roll out further training to kitchen staff and cooks and increase internet speed by 20%. The internet continues to be provided free of charge.
The seafarer retention rate is another good indicator of employee satisfaction and the employer’s ability to keep employees. The retention rate of LSC’s crew members over 2020 and 2021 is 98% which underscores the effectiveness of the measures LSC has adopted to address the various challenges during the pandemic.
Security and human rights
Security arrangements at companies in which Vitol is invested were identified as another risk area for adverse human rights impacts if not appropriately managed. People potentially affected could include employees, contractors and community members.
Vitol aims to have the security protocols of operationally-controlled sites aligned with the VPSHR by the end of 2022 and will launch a responsible security programme to facilitate this.
We initially conducted a high-level gap analysis against the VPSHR and the International Code of Conduct for Security Service Providers (ICoC). Eight of our operationally-controlled businesses were identified as in scope since they either employ security personnel or use public security forces. The security services are managed according to national law. The gap analysis revealed some areas to be addressed during 2022 to ensure alignment with the VPSHR.
The responsible security programme includes capability-building amongst staff at our investments and training for security personnel deployed at our operationally-controlled investments. We have also set the target that 100% of our directly hired security personnel at operationally-controlled sites are to be trained on security and human rights.
KPIs relating to human rights monitoring are reported by companies in which we are invested to the Vitol E&S department each quarter. KPIs include:
- Human rights breaches1
- Prosecutions or enforcement actions by environmental regulatory authorities
- The percentage of sites with armed security
1 These include but are not limited to discrimination, inadequate working conditions, harassment, verbal or physical abuse, forced labour, child labour, unacceptable working practices of security personnel, infringement of the rights of indigenous peoples, contractors, communities or other stakeholders.
Our audit programme outlined in our governance section is also part of a continuous performance monitoring of our investments. It includes regular site reviews that are conducted at certain frequencies depending on risk.
Grievance mechanisms across Vitol and investments
Vitol is committed to ensuring a positive and effective working environment where people are treated fairly and with respect, in line with our values and culture. We recognise, however, there may be occasions where employees may have concerns about their work, working environment, relationships with their colleagues or behaviour of others. In the first instance, we seek to resolve issues informally through dialogue and by providing the required advice and support. Where this is not possible or appropriate, a formal grievance process will be initiated.
Our grievance process enables colleagues to raise concerns relating to their employment and for these to be dealt with in a fair and consistent manner. Grievances will be investigated promptly, thoroughly considered, and treated in strictest confidence. Employees have the right to be accompanied at formal meetings and a right of appeal against the outcome of the grievance procedure.
By creating open channels of communication, we can promote a positive work environment which impacts productivity. If employees do not feel comfortable raising concerns or complaints directly they can raise it via the Vitol global integrity hotline. Operated by an independent third party, the hotline enables employees to highlight any issues of concern with senior management, anonymously and in confidence. The global integrity hotline is designed for employees to report any violation of our code of conduct, or other concern they may have. The issues are dealt with by the most senior member of the relevant department and, in the instance of a conflict of interest, for example if there is a complaint against the most senior person in a department, the case will be reviewed by the CEO.
Our ability to respond to human rights issues depends on people feeling confident enough to report them. People also need to know where and how they can raise concerns. In 2021 we launched a global compliance training programme, which also refers to the global integrity hotline and our principles of non-retaliation. All Vitol employees completed the training. No issues were raised via the hotline in 2021.
Vitol has a number of project-based grievance mechanisms in place, for example, at our Sankofa upstream project offshore Ghana, albeit via the operator, Eni Ghana. Eni has implemented a robust grievance protocol which aligns with the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability. This process has been created to show responsiveness and respect for local concerns throughout the project lifecycle. Stakeholders are informed about the grievance mechanisms available through ongoing community engagement, with public consultations and grievance signboards located at community sites. Stakeholder access to the grievance mechanisms are through multiple channels including email, suggestion and complaint boxes, or face-to-face meetings with community liaison officers.
In 2021 six formal personnel complaints were raised at our investment companies compared with two in 2020. The cases related to inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. Consequence management procedures were applied to all, resulting in one termination and five being closed with a written or verbal warning. These incidents were considered ‘minor’ human rights cases according to assessment by means of the Vitol risk matrix classification when reviewing them from the perspective of the rightsholder and the surrounding circumstances.
In 2021, we received 17 complaints arising from our operations or the activities of the companies in which we are invested. By the end of 2021, 15 of these had been resolved. For the two outstanding, some interim measures were implemented to reduce the impact of the initial complaint, but they are not yet resolved.
Our ambition is to operate and undertake business in such a way that we do not receive complaints from stakeholders. However, we are also cognisant that it is positive if grievances are raised, since this indicates that stakeholders are aware of the channels to report any shortcomings and feel confident to use them. It is key that grievances are addressed if raised. We have therefore modified our complaint-related 2021 target. From 2022 we intend to track the number and types of grievances and concerns raised and the percentage of grievances and concerns addressed and resolved, or found to be unsubstantiated.
Grievance reporting mechanisms embedded across Vitol
|Vitol||Vitol internet page with contact form||All stakeholders|
|Vitol||Vitol global Integrity Hotline||All Vitol employees and contractors|
|Project||Bespoke designed in-country grievance mechanisms||All relevant stakeholders|
2020 complaints by category
Count of complaints
Human rights regulation
The relevant Vitol entities comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, as well as other appropriate legislation to ensure that modern slavery or human trafficking is not taking place within our business and our employees are aware of the risks, however small, in the wider supply chain. Vitol has a zero-tolerance approach to non-ethical practices and is committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in its business dealings and combatting modern slavery, human trafficking and forced labour.
Vitol has implemented policies, systems and controls to safeguard against any form of modern slavery that could be taking place within the business or the supply chain.
The Swiss Counter Proposal to the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI)
In November 2020, the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI) was narrowly rejected by Swiss voters. This meant the counter-proposal to the RBI was accepted and came into force on 1 January 2022. Requirements include increased reporting and due diligence obligations, amongst other things. Vitol will fully comply with all legislation and uses new requirements to strengthen our approach to ESG governance, internal processes and due diligence.
Neptune declaration and seafarer wellbeing
It is essential for us to keep our crews safe while they are at sea, at ports and travelling to, or returning home from, ships. Early in 2021 Vitol joined the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change.
Vitol’s technical shipping manager, LSC, promoted programmes to provide seafarers access to Covid vaccines, arranging for vaccination at ports where available. An awareness raising campaign was launched to encourage seafarers to get vaccinated and LSC also established and implemented gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice.
To facilitate crew changes LSC increased its collaboration with ship operators and charterers. Crew changes for Asia are discussed and fixed in advance with charterers to minimise adverse impacts on crew wellbeing and the business. During the pandemic LSC managed major challenges in Asia where port states had stricter exit and entry rules or limited to no flight opportunities for repatriation, as for instance in the Philippines during the lockdown at the beginning of 2021.
Annik Bindler, human rights manager
I joined Vitol in 2021 as human rights manager. Vitol is committed to respecting human rights and to further embed a culture of respect for human rights.
I am responsible for strengthening Vitol’s processes around our approach to human rights such as due diligence and mitigating human rights impacts in our own operations and business relationships. Since 2012, the UNGPs have been at the centre of my work.
What standards does Vitol apply to human rights?
Vitol’s business is expanding rapidly so we are in a dynamic process of mapping our human rights risks. Our work in this area is ongoing; we strive to continuously improve our processes and assess actual and potential impacts on our people and our business. We assess our impacts against internationally recognised human rights conventions and labour standards, such as the International Bill of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the Maritime Labour Convention. In the area of security and human rights, we use the VPSHR and the ICoC as guidelines. We also use sectoral guidance more generally depending on the activity and the topic we are assessing.
The UNGPs serve as our overarching framework. This is an internationally accepted framework that sets expectations on how to prevent, address and remedy adverse human rights impacts committed by business. The framework has been written for the benefit of both states and companies. Vitol has used these guidelines as the baseline to develop a human rights governance and reporting plan. This plan sets out our priorities and timelines for embedding human rights into our operations. 2022 is the third year of the plan, which is updated annually.
How do you apply human rights to a global company?
Vitol has operations in over 100 countries, and in order to achieve effective results we adopt a tailored approach to different geographical contexts and commodity risks. I believe training both our employees and the employees of third parties that we work with is crucial to effectively address and prevent adverse impacts. Deploying a robust framework empowers employees to identify human rights risks, escalate concerns to the E&S team and to the board, and help further mitigate our exposure to human rights risks.
Why do human rights matter?
Human rights are important for any business, of any size, in any sector. The actions of a business can affect human rights either positively or negatively. Businesses have to implement human rights due diligence to understand their risk exposure as well as to mitigate such risk. It’s a completely different lens to view business decisions through, and offers a more holistic look at our commercial operations. Stakeholder expectations in this area are increasing and an appropriate plan to address human rights risks and remedy adverse impacts is becoming more of a legal requirement. Our human rights actions are gaining importance in discussions with banks and in tenders with potential business partners. This trend will increase in the coming years.
What are the key areas of focus for human rights?
We are currently mapping our human rights activities across all elements of the business to identify our salient issues. For 2021 to 2022, we prioritised two key focus areas. The pandemic has resulted in shipping becoming a priority issue as seafarers were detrimentally affected by port closures and cancelled crew changes brought on by lockdowns. I’ve interviewed around 60 stakeholders in the shipping industry, including 48 seafarers at our technical management company LSC to understand this impact on human rights and work with the business to strengthen our existing protocols. Shipping is a core element of our business and Vitol takes seafarer wellbeing very seriously. Last year we signed the Neptune Declaration recognising seafarers as key workers during the pandemic and calling for increased collaboration to improve working conditions.
We are also working with our site partners to upskill private security staff in-line with the VPSHR, ICoC, and UNGPs. Third-party contractors are in some instances used to protect our assets and it’s our responsibility to ensure they understand Vitol’s expectations.
In parallel with these specific areas of focus are business processes that are happening continuously. These include developing procedures for new business activities and enhancing due diligence processes such as KYC which seek to minimise our exposure to human rights risks. Vitol is a business that moves quickly and we have to be agile in our response.
Where our activities touch local communities, we work hard to ensure a positive outcome.
Safeguarding employees and the community at ATB through vaccination
The ATB terminal is owned by VTTI, a Vitol investment, and is in Malaysia.
The Malaysian government rolled out several initiatives to enable industries to speed up the vaccination of their employees. ATB worked closely with the health authorities and scheduled 2 separate dates for the 2 doses at a resort nearby to roll out the vaccination specifically for all our employees, regular contractors from the local community and the employees from the Vitol Process Unit.
The process of sharing information, educating and facilitating the vaccination proceeded well and by August 21, 99% of our employees had been vaccinated, a feat recognised by the Pontian District Health Department.
Vivo Energy’s Béder Programme: building entrepreneurship among school kids in Tunisia
During the first half of 2021, Vivo Energy Tunisia ran a campaign called ‘Béder’ or ‘Let’s begin!’, which aimed to inspire children to take initiative and develop their own projects, giving them new entrepreneurial skills.
The project was developed in partnership with the Tunisian Ministry of Education and involved hundreds of young children, introducing both teachers and pupils to the concept of ‘learning by doing’ and enabling teachers to encourage entrepreneurship skills with their pupils. 30 schools participated, culminating in students pitching their own projects in front of a panel of judges, who then selected a winner.
The campaign was widely supported by participating teachers and students, as well as in the media. It has helped strengthen Vivo Energy’s ties with the Ministry of Education and has helped sow the seeds for a new generation of young entrepreneurs.
The Vitol Foundation
Founded in 2006, the Vitol Foundation provides financial and technical support to organisations and projects with the potential to create large-scale impact in low and middle-income countries and generate sustainable social returns.
Its focus is to fund work that directly or indirectly helps children and families living in deprivation to escape the cycle of poverty and access increased opportunities.
The Foundation benefits from the expertise of independent advisory board members, each a leader in their field. The Foundation’s work is framed by the UN SDGs, and we measure impact through improved performance, increased inclusion, fostering innovation and catalysing access to finance. To maximise our impact the Foundation works with charities/NGOs, the private sector, governments, public institutions and international partners. Where possible it seeks to strengthen existing ‘in-country’ systems or support innovative solutions that promote lasting social change.
Human Rights Impact Assessments
of Vitol’s business
invested in projects across the world
new grants were approved in 2021
Improving access to quality education to equip children and young people with the relevant skills throughout their education. We support Early Childhood Development programmes and seek to encourage transformation in education systems.
Example: Poor quality of teaching is a major barrier to successful learning outcomes in LMICs. Working in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world.1 Rays of Hope aim to improve literacy and numeracy rates by 75% for 45,000 pupils by boosting the pedagogical skills of teachers.
Enterprise and Livelihoods
Improving economic opportunities for people in poverty through the maintenance and creation of sustainable employment and by addressing systemic inequality in a creative way.
Example: Nuru International aims to provide communities with the right combination of tools and capabilities to support economic development in fragile environments, thereby building resilience against violent extremism and adapting to climate change. The project the Foundation is supporting in Burkina Faso will help 6,500 farmers increase their crop yields by up to 32%.
Supporting local organisations and communities to provide sustainable access to affordable, quality health services. Working with governments and public sector stakeholders, we look to improve service delivery and access to care.
Example: Carers Worldwide addresses the frequently hidden needs of those who spend their lives caring for people living with mental health conditions (PWMI) and are therefore often unable to generate any income for themselves and their dependents. The programme the Foundation is funding in rural India aims to promote access to regular healthcare for 500 PWMI and transform the overall wellbeing of their carers.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
Improving WASH services such as safely-managed water and sanitation services, including through innovative financing and business solutions.
Example: Water for Good sets up new water systems in rural areas in the Central African Republic, such as boreholes and small piped networks with solar pumping, as well as incubating a local business that maintains water services across an area larger than Uganda, with a total estimated population of users of 1,050,000 people.
The Foundation targets persistent crises that might have fallen out of the headlines. One such case is southern Madagascar, where as a result of a major drought, coupled with plagues of pests and sand-storms, large sections of the population have been unable to feed themselves adequately for at least 3 years, leaving 1.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. By transporting and delivering food assistance from the north of the country, the Aga Khan Foundation (working with another Vitol Foundation partner, Doctors for Madagascar), will deliver 100,000 food rations to 1,000 households in the most acutely affected areas.
7World Bank poverty rate estimate: 51.5%.
Vitol in the Community
‘It’s safe to say that without Vitol’s continued support, we would not have been able to operate as we have for the last 18 years’ – Robin Susman, Chief Advancement Officer, YES Prep Public Schools.
Vitol has an established history of philanthropic giving and our people frequently seek to engage in the communities in which they operate. Worldwide, our offices have held events to fundraise for both local and international charities.
In memory of Vitol’s late chairman, Ian R. Taylor, our Geneva team organised a month-long initiative to run, walk, hike and bike as many kilometres as possible whilst collecting sponsorship. Colleagues covered just under 30,000 km, raising money for health and education charities. The money will go towards a range of causes including providing support for parents with autistic children, sponsoring scholarships for teenagers from villages in Burkina Faso, providing training for sub-Saharan surgeons on basic reconstructive surgery techniques and funding scholarships for refugees. The Geneva office also held an event in partnership with ‘Cuisine Lab’. This is a local charity that supports refugees with training and equipment to become chefs and open their own restaurants. Four chefs came to the office to prepare and serve specialities from Syria, Iran and Sri Lanka.
Vitol’s Houston office has a long-standing relationship working with YES Prep Public Schools (YES Prep), a tuition-free charter school organisation that seeks to empower all Houston students to succeed in college and pursue lives of opportunity. They currently operate 23 schools and provide a high-quality public education to 16,400+ students. Vitol has partnered with YES Prep for almost 18 years with both past and current executives serving on the board during that time. Our charitable contributions have assisted with the organisation’s operating costs, building new schools and expanding the curriculum. Vitol is also the lead sponsor at YES Prep’s annual poker night. Approximately 600 people from local energy companies attend, and play poker to raise funds. Contributions made by Vitol are matched by the Vitol Foundation.