Working responsibly

Human rights

Respecting human rights is part of our commitment to delivering value for our stakeholders.

We are committed to respecting human rights in all our activities and this commitment is embedded in our Business Principles and includes our support for the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Human rights is particularly important to certain key stakeholders, including our employees and communities in which we operate.

Respect for our employees

We believe that by promoting a work environment in which people are treated with dignity and respect, we can maintain a loyal, motivated and effective workforce. This includes ensuring fair and just rewards for employees’ contributions and supporting opportunities for professional development.

We also have policies in place covering recruitment, grievance, harassment and equal opportunities, which seek to ensure that all current and potential employees are treated fairly. We expect our contractors to treat their employees in the same way.

We respect the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Although we do not have any employees who are unionised or have any collective agreements in place, we do consult our workforce on organisational issues on a regular basis and through a variety of means. We respect those contract employees who work with us and their membership of unions, which we consider during our contracting activities.

Respect for communities

A fundamental respect for human rights is critical to maintaining good working relationships we have with the local communities with which we interact. Our Corporate Responsibility Management System (CRMS) sets out our approach to managing potential community impacts in accordance with the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Performance Standard 5*, requiring the development of action plans in cases where activities could lead to economic or physical displacement.

Our operated and non-operated assets are principally based offshore. As such, the potential for our activities to impact negatively on the human rights of local communities is limited. In 2016, our drilling operations were carried out offshore Senegal, with relatively limited onshore support operations in established ports. No physical displacement of individuals or any identified economic displacement of individuals or communities resulted from our operations.

However, we recognised the potential for our activities to limit the ability of local fishermen to exploit the waters in which we work. We worked with local fishermen to minimise disruption through communication of our day-to-day and forward operations and implemented a mechanism whereby they were able to provide us with feedback. In addition, and as part of the development of our Impact Benefit Plan in Senegal (see Cairn in Senegal), we continue to work with an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Senegal to engage with and identify specific challenges facing fishermen along the coastal areas closest to our operations.

Our CRMS also recognises that our activities might be carried out on or affect the territories of indigenous and tribal peoples and that we must work towards achieving free, prior and informed consultation and, where appropriate, consent, on the use and management of natural resources in accordance with the IFC’s Performance Standard 7**. In 2016, our operational activities were centred offshore Senegal with no effect on the territories of indigenous or tribal peoples.

Through our assessments of social and environmental risk and impact, we will also seek to understand any effects our operations may have on cultural heritage. Our CRMS requires us to protect and support cultural heritage by undertaking internationally recognised practices in accordance with the IFC’s Performance Standard 8***.


Occasionally, during the lifetime of a project, unforeseeable human rights or other stakeholder issues can arise. We provide and promote a ‘Grievance procedure’ by which individuals or representatives of communities affected by our operations can present their concerns and to which we aim to respond within 30 days.

Employees or contractors can also raise any concerns they might have around human rights, and indeed any other, issues through a variety of means, including the Company’s whistleblowing procedure.

In 2016, there were no reported grievances or breaches reported through the whistleblowing procedure.

Modern Slavery Act 2015

In 2016, the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) came into force in the UK. This Act requires companies with a turnover greater than £36 million to produce a statement of their assessment and management of their supply chain in respect of forced, compulsory, bonded and child labour or any form of human trafficking.

Although Cairn was not required, under the Act’s turnover qualification level, to produce a statement in 2016, preparations commenced to better understand the objectives and implications of the Act.

We analysed our current Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and procedures against the requirements of the Act to identify any discrepancies. Although we do not foresee any major risks in this area, it has been discussed by the Board and our CSR Policy has been adjusted.

Go to our Policies and Principals page.

We have also started work to better assess any vulnerable areas within our supply chain and will implement any required improvements in in 2017.

Read more on our ‘rights aware’ approach.


Read more on our Human rights performance.

Objectives 2017

  • Further develop Modern Slavery Act (MSA) safeguards
  • Deliver MSA training
  • Develop MSA statement for 2017

* IFC Environmental and Social Performance Standard 5 – Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement. January 1, 2012.
** IFC Environmental and Social Performance Standard 7 – Indigenous Peoples. January 1, 2012
*** IFC Environmental and Social Performance Standard 8 – Cultural Heritage. January 1, 2012

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