Verizon’s Credo defines who we are and how we operate. It states that we are accountable and that we are committed to doing the right thing. Our Credo underlies our human rights commitments.
Verizon’s Human Rights Statement was first published in 2009. Since then, we have refreshed our statement to reflect both evolving external understandings of business responsibility for human rights and updates to our internal efforts. We are committed to operating with respect for internationally-recognized human rights, including those affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, across our value chain. Guided by the human rights due diligence framework set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), we are committed to assessing the impacts of our business activities on human rights and to addressing adverse impacts. Our efforts include attention to the human rights impacts of our products, services, and strategy and to our engagements with employees, customers, communities, governments, business partners, and suppliers. We pay particular attention to the rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups, including children.
This work is led by our dedicated Business & Human Rights Program (BHRP). The BHRP’s work is overseen by Verizon’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative, Legal and Public Policy Officer and the Corporate Governance and Policy Committee of our Board of Directors. The Corporate Governance and Policy Committee assists the Board in oversight of risks related to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and public policy matters, and the Committee’s charter sets out its oversight responsibilities in relation to human rights in particular. The Corporate Governance and Policy Committee receives periodic updates prepared by the BHRP with respect to global human rights risks and opportunities relevant to Verizon’s operations.
The Business & Human Rights Program (BHRP) is the first team of its kind at a U.S. telecommunications company.
The BHRP is led by a dedicated team of human rights legal experts who provide centralized leadership on global strategy related to human rights matters and who guide our efforts to make responsible business decisions consistent with the expectations found in the UNGPs.
The BHRP is part of Verizon’s wider ESG group and collaborates with a cross-functional team of lawyers and sustainability professionals that integrate effective governance and management of environmental and social risks and opportunities into business decision-making and strategy.
The BHRP further relies on a global cross-functional team of internal partners to integrate attention to human rights into the DNA of our company. On an ongoing basis, the BHRP collaborates with colleagues in the areas of AI & Ethics, Privacy, Law Enforcement, Public Policy, Product Legal, Engineering, Digital Safety, Information Security, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Global Supply Chain, among others, to surface and address human rights considerations.
We’re committed to respecting internationally-recognized human rights. We aim to translate those principles, including the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and other international human rights treaties, into practical steps to be followed by our employees.
Educating employees on our human rights commitments is another way that we integrate attention to human rights into the DNA of our company. The BHRP designs targeted employee training and information-sharing briefings for teams across the company to provide employees with guidance and tools to support our efforts to operate consistently with our human rights commitments. We also have developed an employee learning module with information on international human rights standards, Verizon’s commitment to respect human rights, and the work of the BHRP. This learning module is available to all employees. As part of Verizon’s efforts to address modern slavery, our procurement employees are trained on the risks of forced labor and human trafficking.
In partnership with teams across the company, the BHRP conducts ongoing human rights due diligence (HRDD), as set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF) and as embodied across the pillars of our Business and Human Rights Program, to identify, understand, and address the human rights implications of our business decisions, including our technology, products, services, and strategy.
As part of this process, we undertake Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) to more specifically evaluate and address human rights risks that may intersect with our business. This includes attention to such rights as privacy (including data privacy), freedom of expression and information, and non-discrimination, with specific attention to vulnerable and marginalized groups, including children. Our assessments cover all aspects of our operations, including our supply chain, where we have focused on the potential risks of forced labor.
The HRIA process is an essential element of our ongoing review of the human rights landscape and of Verizon’s business plans. When we conduct an HRIA, we review a number of factors, including:
The international legal and normative foundations for human rights, including rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, non-discrimination, and rights in the workplace and supply chain;
The responsibility of corporations to respect human rights, as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
Verizon’s business, strategy, services, or product plans and intersection points with potential human rights risks or opportunities;
The human rights landscape in relevant countries or regions;
Local laws, policies and practices relevant to the human rights impacts of our business practices; and
The existing and potential benefits of our products and services to society, in particular with respect to how they may advance human rights.
Based on what we learn, we identify potential human rights risks and opportunities that could arise from Verizon’s products and operations. We then make recommendations to avoid or mitigate those risks, protect our customers and users, and promote human rights with our products and on our platforms. As part of our HRDD and HRIA processes, we consult externally with a variety of local, regional, and international experts, including government agencies, human rights organizations, academics, journalists and other experts.
We also periodically conduct strategic company-wide assessments to support and strengthen our human rights work. More information on these assessments can be found here.
We value our engagement with industry peers, human rights experts, technologists, advocates, academics, investors, journalists, governments and other experts.
As one of the largest communication technology companies in the world, Verizon has a responsibility to respect and promote human rights in our business decisions, including our technology, products, services, and strategy. We also recognize that we can use our technology and innovation to foster an exchange of ideas about how companies, government, civil society, responsible investors, users, customers and others can work together to address the complex issues at the intersection of technology and human rights. We regularly engage and maintain strong relationships with these key stakeholders on human rights risks and opportunities, including the impacts of our policies, products and services.
The Business & Human Rights Program (BHRP) engages on behalf of Verizon on an ongoing basis, alongside our colleagues, with a wide range of external experts and organizations, including with consumers, enterprise customers, employees, civil society, academics, and investors. We benefit from these engagements to continually anticipate and address new and emerging questions; to conduct ongoing human rights due diligence of our business decisions, products, services, operations and strategy consistent with the expectations found in the UNGPs; and to consider issues related to grievances and remedy.
Cross-company and multi-stakeholder collaboration are essential to addressing systemic human rights challenges. As part of our efforts, we have joined the Global Network Initiative (GNI), becoming the first telecommunications company based in the United States to do so. The GNI is the leading multi-stakeholder initiative in the ICT sector and provides a valuable forum for engagement regarding human rights challenges facing the technology and communications sector.
In addition, we are members of the Article One Roundtable on Responsible AI, Business for Social Responsibility’s Human Rights Working Group, and Joint Audit Cooperation’s Human Rights Working Group. We are also participants in the B-Tech project, led by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Verizon is also a participant in the U.N. Global Compact.
We seek to be accountable, including by being transparent. We share information about our human rights efforts in various forms, including through this page, in our ESG Report, and in our Human Rights Statement. Our human rights efforts are also reflected in other policies and reporting, including content available through the ESG Resources Hub.
In addition, as a member of the GNI, Verizon has committed to implement the GNI Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. As part of this commitment, Verizon will undergo regular assessments by an independent third-party assessor on our policies and procedures to implement these Principles. The findings are shared with the multistakeholder GNI Board of Directors, which determines whether we are making a good faith effort to implement the GNI Principles. A summary of these assessments is also shared publicly.
We also provide channels through which issues related to the human rights impacts of our activities can be raised. These channels include the Verizon Ethics site (www.verizonethics.com), a 24/7 intake function that allows for anonymous reporting (where permitted by local law) in multiple languages via web submission, email, toll-free phone number, and physical mail. Questions and concerns can be submitted by anyone, including our employees, suppliers, suppliers’ employees, and members of the public. Verizon strictly prohibits retaliation for submitting complaints or cooperating with investigations. Investigations, inquiries, and complaints are kept confidential as permitted by law and Verizon's need to appropriately address the issue. Verizon takes steps to publicize this mechanism on its website, in communications and through trainings for employees and suppliers. We also offer channels for raising specific human rights-related issues, such as issues related to privacy, accessibility, and specific products.
Our approach is one of continuous learning and improvement. A critical part of our efforts to embed human rights considerations into business decision-making is the ongoing evaluation and refinement of our efforts. This ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of our efforts, including our due diligence efforts, is particularly important as new innovation and technological advancements emerge. We integrate lessons learned from due diligence, stakeholder engagement, and our other activities to track the effectiveness of our efforts and continually improve and refine our efforts over time.
Our Salient Human Rights Issues
We focus our human rights efforts on the issues across our value chain that are most salient to Verizon’s core business strategy: privacy; non-discrimination; free expression; and rights in the workplace and supply chain, including attention to the risk of forced labor.
- Privacy: Through our products and services, we process customer data, which may include sensitive information. We respect individuals’ right to privacy. We seek to communicate transparently on privacy matters and our collection, use and disclosure of customer information, and we respect individuals’ choices about the use of their data.
- Non-Discrimination: We respect the right to non-discrimination. We are committed to fostering an inclusive working environment, and celebrate diversity across all spectrums. In technology design and use, we evaluate and address the risks of potential biases to prevent discriminatory outcomes and are taking steps to ensure that technology delivers benefits to all, including vulnerable and marginalized groups.
- Freedom of Expression: Customers rely on our networks to stay connected and express themselves online, and consumers and businesses can also produce, store, and share content through several Verizon products and services. We respect the right to freedom of expression and information, and recognize that our network and technologies play an important role in enabling this right for our customers.
- Human Rights in the Workplace and Supply Chain: Verizon is a large employer and, in addition, its operations rely on an extended supply chain. We are committed to operating with respect for the rights of our employees and contractors. Verizon expects our suppliers to respect workers’ human rights and to take steps to mitigate potential risks of forced labor, child labor, and other human rights violations.
Our prioritization of these salient issues was informed and affirmed in a formal saliency assessment undertaken in 2021-22, which is discussed in more detail in the Executive Summary of our Saliency Assessment.
Beyond our most salient issues, we recognize that human rights are connected to a range of other issues relevant to our business, including climate change, the environment, digital safety, and digital inclusion. See our strategic human rights impact assessments to learn more.