Amnesty International Norway representatives and Hydro's President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg led a human rights workshop for Hydro employees in Oslo this week.
"If you accept that your activities have political implications, then you cannot logically limit your moral and ethical responsibility to lie only inside your factory gates," John Peder Egenæs, secretary general of Amnesty International Norway, told the gathering of Hydro Corporate Center employees whose jobs bring them into contact with human rights and integrity issues.
Egenæs said that while governments bear the main responsibility for human rights, international companies like Hydro have the potential to influence local communities in a positive way.
He brought up Hydro's culture of openness as an example for other international companies.
"We see Hydro as a company that gives priority to act in a responsible manner in developing good policies and practices," he said.
Good routines are important
Hydro has activities in more than 40 countries, customers in 110 countries, and more than 18,000 suppliers. Brandtzæg said it is therefore important that Hydro has good routines and guidelines for its employees.
Brandtzæg said that Amnesty has played an important role as a dialog partner for Hydro since the cooperation between the two parties began in 2002.
Hydro and Amnesty have arranged several "dilemma workshops" over the years, in which employees have mulled over fictitious, but true-to-life, cases from regions where Hydro operates.
The idea is to give employees a feel for the type of decisions that must be made that both protect the company's interests and live up to ethical standards.
Thursday's workshop focused on two dilemmas from countries where the authorities are involved in corruption.
Amnesty International Norway political advisor Beate Ekeløve-Slydal, who led the workshop discussions, said these real-life dilemmas illustrate the kinds of situations that can occur in countries where human rights and the rule of law are not protected.
"I think we had some really good discussions," she said.