H2. Code of conduct
Essity aims to offer all employees regular training in the Code of Conduct.
During 2017, 93% of all new employees had received training in Essity’s Code of Conduct and 2,200 (90%) of Essity’s top and middle managers participated in Essity’s Ethical Dilemma training.
Essity has developed an anti-corruption e-learning course, translated into 21 languages, which has been included in onboarding programs. In 2017, just over 200 new employees completed the training program.
In 2017, just over 200 employees completed the EU competition e-learning course or the US anti-trust e-learning course.
In the 2017 Sedex assessment, all of Essity’s main facilities received a low to medium risk classification and no facility was classified as high risk.
In 2017, there were a total of 63 (71) reported cases of potential breaches of laws or of the Code of Conduct to the whistleblower function (including the internal channel for reporting breaches of the Code of Conduct). Of the 63 suspected breaches reported, five were still under investigation at the end of the year. Among the reported complaints, three related to the suspicion of corruption. All three investigations have been closed and in one case corruption was verified relating to a supplier.
Among the other reported cases of potential breaches, 30 related to HR, such as discrimination and harassment, and the remaining 30 concerned various other company policies. A total of 12 employees were dismissed. No one was dismissed for verified corruption.
Internal audits conducted of the Code of Conduct
In 2017, Code of Conduct audits were conducted at two sites in Mexico and one site each in Russia, Brazil, the US, Poland and Austria. Generally, employees are satisfied and positive to Essity as a company and employer. In units acquired from BSN medical in Mexico and Brazil, there were a number of aspects to improve to raise levels to the normal Essity standard, including the low or complete lack of any awareness of BSN medical’s or Essity’s Code of Conduct among employees. An action program is in place and will be implemented in 2018. The internal audit noted that other plants need to improve follow-up of overtime and evacuation drills. All plants have action programs in place.
Audits conducted of business ethics
In 2017, business ethics audits were conducted in Brazil, Finland and Romania. Most of the criteria were in place in Finland and Romania, though there was a need to improve the quality of performance reviews and follow-up of who had completed courses in the Code of Conduct and other policy documents. The audit in Brazil related to the acquired BSN medical unit, which has several areas that need to be improved to reach Essity’s standard. These include staff that require further training in the Code of Conduct and other policy documents, the introduction of performance reviews and the use of encryption for e-mails. An action plan is in place and will be implemented in 2018.
Ongoing anti-trust cases
In December 2017, the Chilean competition authority concluded its investigation of the company’s tissue operations in Chile with a decision to fine the company about USD 12.2m. The company has appealed the decision.
Andean Community’s investigation of Productos Familia S.A.’s sales in Ecuador and Colombia continued during the year and is not yet concluded. This is also the case for the ongoing investigation into the company’s tissue operations in Hungary.