Mercado Libre provides online shopping and payment services in Latin America. Its brands include Mercado Envios, a shipping and logistics service, and Mercado Pago, a payment service. The company was founded in Argentina in 1999 and now operates in 18 countries across the region. Its primary service is the Mercado Libre e-commerce platform, the largest in Latin America, with more than 132 million users in 2020.
Mercado Libre’s Chicas en Tecnología (Girls in Technology) contributes to the digital inclusivity of women and girls in Argentina. The programme provides mentors for participants and connects them with Mercado Libre teams so they can experience working in a technological environment. The company reports the number of its employees with disabilities and clearly discloses how it distributes the economic value it generates among its stakeholders as well as employment in its significant markets.
The company has programmes that focus on enhancing intermediate and technical digital skills. Redes a Futuro (Future Networks) teaches youth, across Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, technical skills to help them in the job market. The second teaches coding to young graduates in Uruguay.
Mercado Libre supports the tech innovation ecosystem with both a venture capital fund and start-up support. The company has both its own programmes to develop start-ups and partners with Ashoka to support social entrepreneurs. Mercado Libre also follows best practice by disclosing the locations of its research and development (R&D) facilities and the number of women on its technical staff.
Mercado Libre has an opportunity to develop a programme that contributes to universal and affordable access to digital technologies. It can also undertake an impact assessment of its Chicas en Tecnología programme. Similarly, no evidence was found relating to how the company accommodates the needs of customers and employees with disabilities.
Mercado Libre has an opportunity to support initiatives that provide digital literacy training and improve school connectivity. The company could disclose its contribution to the programmes and consider undertaking a third party impact assessment to understand their impact on beneficiaries.
Mercado Libre can make a high-level commitment to open source and standards and support this by sharing public data sets or partnering with universities on technology and sustainability-related research. There is also the opportunity to support entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups. The company could also more clearly demonstrate how it applies ethical considerations in R&D.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Mercado Libre commits to respect human rights in a public policy document. However, the company’s commitment to respect the ILO core labour rights could be stronger. For example, it does not disclose, in a policy statement, that it respects the right to respect freedom of association and collective bargaining. Mercado Libre has included human rights issues in its materiality assessment. However, it does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on salient human rights risks in its own operations and with business relationships. The company describes the various stakeholders it engages with in general, but it does not specify that it engages stakeholders whose human rights could be affected by its activities. Mercado Libre does have a grievance mechanism that is accessible to workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints.
Mercado Libre publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers and the company places the same expectation on its business relationships. However, the company does not disclose a policy commitment which states that it does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours, and does not explicitly state that it requires its business relationships to do the same. Furthermore, it does not publicly commit to paying its workers a living wage or to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Mercado Libre discloses the percentage of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements and provides a breakdown of workforce diversity, per employee category, for four indicators of diversity.
Mercado Libre has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption and includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. However, the company does not have global tax strategy company. While it discloses the income taxes it pays in two categories – US and Non US – it does not disclose income tax payments for its individual tax jurisdictions. Mercado Libre does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.