Business ethics and human rights

Essity’s Code of Conduct is a cornerstone in our efforts to ensure that our business operations are responsible and that we conduct ourselves with integrity in our interactions with our stakeholders.

Training is an important tool to help employees act in accordance with the Code, including training for new employees and further training. In 2017, 93% of Essity’s new employees received training in the Code of Conduct. Ethical business practices, good working conditions, zero tolerance of harassment and respect for human rights are a few of the focus areas of this training. We continuously strive to achieve a culture of integrity by integrating the Code of Conduct into all areas of the business. Our goal is to evaluate all of our supply streams from a total risk perspective. Essity employs a Global Supplier Standard. Suppliers who have undertaken to follow the criteria in this standard accounted for 64% of Essity’s procurement spend in 2017. The goal is that 100% of our suppliers will follow these criteria by 2020.

In 2016, we launched a program for responsible management. The program comprises a theory portion, which emphasizes how managers should act to avoid creating a work environment that encourages employees to behave unethically, and a game, where participants are presented with various dilemma situations and given the opportunity to discuss and navigate difficult situations. In 2017, just over 2,200 managers and employees completed the program, corresponding to approximately 90% of Essity’s top and middle managers. To assess the impact of the program, an anonymous evaluation was carried out in conjunction with the workshop. The results showed that 89% felt the training had resulted in a more open climate for discussing ethical dilemmas.

Another key factor for creating a good workplace with sound values is an open culture where people feel comfortable addressing unacceptable behavior, such as discrimination and harassment. In connection with the #metoo campaign, Essity’s employees were reminded of the company’s Code of Conduct and zero tolerance of all forms of harassment through various activities and on the intranet. Employees were also encouraged to report any breaches of the Code of Conduct through Essity’s various internal and external reporting channels.

Workshops on human rights (photo)

Workshops on human rights

Human rights remain an important focus area for Essity’s work to create a responsible and sustainable value chain. In 2016, a new training program was established to help Essity’s various units to identify any local areas at risk of human rights violations. The program includes an introduction to the framework for human rights and an exercise to practice mapping out the units’ impact on human rights.

In 2017, seven workshops were carried out in three countries in Latin America with a total of 94 participants. As a result of these workshops, the units decided to continue working on such areas as fair wage structures, safety on the way to and from work, and working conditions at employment agencies. By the end of 2017, action plans were in place for all risk areas at each unit, of which 72% have been carried out to date.