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GRI 414

Women in the Supply Chain

The REWE Group sources a large number of products through supply chains from around the world. These include countries where the state framework conditions for the protection of human rights are insufficient and where applicable labour and social standards are not observed. Women are often employed at the start of global supply chains and, in many cases, are excluded from economic opportunities and the benefits of international trade. Therefore, these areas are the focus of REWE Group activities.

The topic of women in the supply chain has been identified as a focus issue in the area of action of people within the Green Products Strategy 2030. The REWE Group aims to protect and promote women in its supply chains.

GRI 414: Social aspects in the supply chain

Management approach


The Guidelines on Sustainable Business Practices of the REWE Group applies to all business relationships. It covers matters such as fair employee policies and the prohibition of discrimination.

In 2020, the REWE Group joined the UN initiative “Women’s Empowerment Principles” and is committed to the targeted empowerment of women within the company and society.

In order to specify its requirements regarding the promotion and protection of women, the REWE Group published the Guideline on Women in the Supply Chain in 2021. It contains goals and measures for strengthening the rights of women along global value chains and promoting their economic independence and participation.


The REWE Group follows a universal approach when it comes to empowering and promoting women along global value chains. First of all, this includes clear guidelines on the protection and promotion of women, which the REWE Group and its business partners in the supply chain are to use as guidance. The REWE Group also continuously reviews existing measures as part of this approach and adjusts them where necessary. In addition, new measures and goals are defined, where necessary, in order to address the needs of and risks to particularly affected supply chains (i.e. those in which there is a high proportion of women and/or in which there are particularly big challenges).

Risk Analysis

In 2020, the REWE Group conducted a risk analysis to determine which negative human rights impacts women are particularly exposed to and in which sectors and countries relevant for the REWE Group the risks for women are particularly high. Particular attention was paid to the focus raw materials identified in the Guideline on Fairness. Furthermore, where the availability of data allowed it, the proportion of women in each of the sectors and countries under consideration was determined. Three risk areas were identified in the results: Precarious working conditions and low wages, occupational safety and health risks at the workplace, and a lack of participation in economic life – for example, because women are often not involved in decision-making processes or are legally restricted when it comes to acquiring property. In addition, it can be stated that women are present in all supply chains and there are risks everywhere – albeit to different extents.


Based on the findings of the risk analysis and a discussion on fairness with stakeholders from civil society, also held in 2020, the REWE Group defined three goals which are used to protect and promote women in its supply chains:

  1. Dialogue and communication: The REWE Group seeks and maintains dialogue with standards organisations and other stakeholders to advocate for the rights and needs of women. During these discussions, it communicates its requirements to its stakeholders and trains relevant employees on the specific risks to and needs of women.
  2. Social capacity building programme: The REWE Group ensures that training content addresses the specific needs of and risks to women in factories.
  3. Projects: The REWE Group initiates individual projects which strengthen the rights of women and promote their economic independence and participation.

Measures and projects

The REWE Group is increasingly buying certified raw materials – for example, through Fairtrade, the Rainforest Alliance, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Cotton made in Africa, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), XertifiX and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®). All production sites in the first supply chain link of defined risk countries must also provide proof of a social audit according to the standards of amfori BSCI or the SA8000 standard as well as SMETA audits. All of these certifications already set requirements for the equal treatment and protection of women, which are checked during audits. These include, for example, equal pay for men and women doing the same job, the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender, or the provision of appropriate advanced training.

In addition, the REWE Group implements various measures and projects to promote the economic independence and participation of women. Selected examples are presented below.

Social capacity building programme

As part of the Social Capacity Building Programme, managers at strategic production sites take part in an 18-month modular training programme to learn about health and safety, complaint mechanisms, wages and working hours as well as ethical recruitment. The training programme was run in factories for food and non-food products in 2020. That same year, checks were also made to find out whether the specific needs of and risks to women are being sufficiently addressed. Additional content was included as a result of this, with a focus on raising awareness amongst employees and management in order to prevent and counteract gender-specific discrimination at the workplace.

Improved conditions for cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire

As a founding member of the multi-stakeholder German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, the REWE Group works together with other companies to support the PRO-PLANTEURS project, launched in 2015, which was implemented in collaboration with the German and Ivorian governments. By 2025, the aim is professionalise 30,000 cocoa farmers in the eastern and south-eastern regions of Côte d'Ivoire as well as their producer organisations in order to increase incomes and improve the living situation of families. In particular, the aim is to give women the opportunity to optimise their own income. PRO-PLANTEURS supports them, for example, during the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products. During the first phase of the project, around 3,000 farmers were trained in cocoa cultivation between 2015 and 2020. Also, 4,000 additional farmers received training on selected crops and animal husbandry for personal consumption, whilst 76 women were trained up as nutritionists.

Empowerment of women in coffee cultivation in Peru

The “Café Mujer” women's coffee in Peru is a current project of the REWE Group which specifically advocates for the empowerment of women in the supply chain. As part of this initiative, the organically grown Arabica beans for REWE Bio caffè crema pads are grown exclusively by women of the Fairtrade-certified “Valle de Ubiriki” cooperative. 120 farmers here cultivate the coffee gardens which they own in the Chanchamayo region in the heart of Peru. The REWE Group guarantees these women that it will purchase their entire annual production at the Fairtrade minimum price. Furthermore, Fairtrade employees organise workshops on, for example, operational practices such as post-harvest treatment or the promotion of women farmers through qualifications such as team leadership. In addition, the cooperative receives the Fairtrade Premium for local projects. The REWE Bio caffè crema pads bear the PRO PLANET label “Für bessere soziale Bedingungen” (For better social conditions).

Fairtrade roses: Long-term fair trade commitment

The REWE Group was the first food retailer in Germany to add fairly traded cut roses from East Africa to its product range when it introduced them to REWE and PENNY stores in 2007. Most of these roses, which bear the PRO PLANET label, come from Kenya. Pesticides frequently harm the health of the predominantly female workforce and the environment. Therefore, PRO PLANET roses are only sourced from Fairtrade flower farms. The Fairtrade seal obliges producers to limit the use of chemicals and pay workers fairly.