"Hermès is committed to working with its stakeholders to establish a science-based definition of animal welfare and to implementing the highest standards of animal welfare in its operations."
Hermès Charter on Animal Welfare
Rooted in an approach that combines multi-stakeholder collaboration with continuous improvement, Hermès’ policy in this area is to go beyond scrupulous compliance with laws and regulations.
Animal welfare is a systematic part of its work with all upstream partners (tanners, dressers, hide suppliers) and it also works with the professional bodies of the sectors. The group has put in place a very strict policy for animal welfare within its direct sphere of responsibility in reptile farms, but also for its external partners in all other sectors, in a context where 96% of its hides are by-products of the food industry.
Hermès seeks to go beyond the humane treatment of animals and pursue their well-being by observing animal behaviour in order to obtain concrete results and improve animal well-being in practical ways based on scientific knowledge.
Over the years, Hermès has built up a solid, long-term network of industry partnerships in the area of animal welfare, and it now acts as a facilitator between supply chain partners, independent researchers, specialised NGOs and other luxury brands.
The company’s animal welfare policy rests on its vertical integrated manufacturing model and long-term partnerships, which guarantee rigorous traceability of its raw materials and strict control of its supply chains and production. Its policy is structured around the following points:
- Committing to the fundamental principles of animal welfare (Five Freedoms), as defined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), according to the most up-to-date knowledge supported by the world’s most renowned scientific and academic bodies. This approach is centred on the observation of animals and their behaviour (obligation of result), contrary to more traditional approaches which exclude the animal from the measurement of animal welfare resulting in only a material analysis of resources (obligation of means);
- A multiparty collaboration to ensure that the results obtained on animal welfare correspond with the expectations and analyses of a wide range of stakeholders, selected for their scientific expertise, in particular the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA UK), the South African Ostrich Business Chamber (SAOBC), the International Crocodilian Farmers Association (ICFA), the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), the South East Asian Reptile Conservation Alliance (SARCA) and other professional organisations in France such as Interveau and Interbev;
- A formal governance framework: in 2019, the Group established an Animal Welfare Committee. An independent expert scientist specialising in animal welfare is a member of this committee, which meets at least every six months to update the policy and standards, measure the progress made and ensure the necessary means are available;
- Establishing strict standards of good practice adapted to the specificities of each sector, which reflect the expectations of the community and cover wide-ranging areas such as farming and slaughtering practices, transport, traceability, social conditions of employees, environmental performance and safety on farms, promotion of biodiversity, conservation of species and assistance to populations and communities. These standards also aim to eliminate controversial animal welfare practices from the supply chains, as well as limiting the misuse of antibiotics (unless prescribed by a veterinarian) and banning the use of growth hormones;
- Protecting endangered species through scrupulous respect of the rules established under the aegis of the UN by the Washington Convention, notably by following the CITES;
- A monitoring system adapted to each sector ensures practices are improved thanks to regular internal and external checks and audits of supply chains. In 2020, several audits were carried out across all supply chains and are therefore representative of all animal material supplies. In addition to animal welfare, these audits cover the environmental and societal aspects of farming.
Analysis of supply chains led to the creation of “supply chain briefs”, documents that lay out the strategy, objectives and the means to achieve them. They are built around commitments that the company is currently developing with its partners on the following basis:
In 2020, Hermès became a member of the Leather Working Group (LWG) and its Animal Welfare Group. Since February, it has been a requirement that all tanning suppliers be assessed by the LWG audit protocol, with the objective of eventually achieving 100%. In 2021 we will establish the means to achieve this ambitious goal.
Hermès also continued its support for the International Crocodilian Farmers Association (ICFA) initiative to develop and implement an international certification framework for crocodile welfare and sustainable farming practices (see above). The group will continue to work with the ICFA to support scientific research and the continuous improvement of crocodilian farming systems.
A monitoring system tailored to each sector is deployed to improve practices by carrying out regular internal and external inspections and audits in the supply chains. Under the aegis of the Animal Welfare Committee, monitoring is organised around key animal species (calves, crocodiles, ostriches, goats, lambs, etc.).
Traceability of skins
of calf hides are laser-marked (pilot project involving two of the division’s calfskin tanneries – in cooperation with the French Technical Centre for Leather: CTC)
of leather used is a by-product of the food industry
Compliance and regulations
of hides used are sourced in Europe, in compliance with strict regulations
Audits and certifications
of its subcontractors working with leather have been audited or subject to HSE visits during the past five years, including on the subject of animal welfare where appropriate
of the group’s entities have a strict animal welfare roadmap
An inspiring initiative
Our precious skins
Our precious skins
Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards for the ethical treatment of alligators, crocodiles and ostriches, following the recommendations of expert veterinarians and local authorities. In addition, the group has decided to go even further by facilitating the establishment, with local authorities and international NGOs, of the first specific standards for supply chains for these precious skins. In 2018, the ICFA farming standards for crocodilians were released, followed in 2019 by the SAOBC breeding standard for ostriches.
The audit process was rolled out in 2020 and several farms have already been certified. The aim is for 100% of farmed crocodilian leather to be ICFA-certified by the end of 2021.
The process of certification of ostrich sites began in 2020, carried out by an independent certifying body, led by the SAOBC. The aim is to achieve certification for the entire sector by the end of 2022.
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