Over the past two years we have taken a fresh look at our global standards and policies and in particular those relating to business practice and the way we operate.
Code of conduct
We combined our global Ethics Code with our business Code of Conduct, creating one document which applies to all employees in all Coats Group companies globally.
Our Whistleblowing Policy is also in place to encourage the reporting of any possible occurrences of non-compliance with the Ethics Code or any other policy or legal framework. We encourage employees to raise concerns via our ‘Ethics Hotline’ and report any serious misconduct or violations of the law or the Company’s policies. Our Ethics Hotline is managed by the legal team, and provides direct access to the appropriate senior managers across the business. During 2016 there were 30 cases reported to the Hotline, compared to 11 in 2015 – all of which were fully investigated and appropriate actions taken.
We operate a formal anti-corruption and competition committee chaired by our Chief Legal & Risk Officer, that meets 4 times a year to discuss any matters arising.
Ethics and anti-corruption training
All 4,500+ senior employees and those with externally facing roles complete training in ethics, bribery and corruption, and competition. We have refreshed our online training package to reflect changes in legislation, and carried out refresher training during 2016. In addition, we continue to hold face-to-face training sessions in high risk locations. During 2016 we developed a new data protection training module to meet with upcoming legislation changes. For more information, see our case study – Company-Wide Ethics Training for more information.
Cyber security, data protection and privacy
As a controller of personal data and a processor of third party data, Coats must comply with ever-more stringent data protection laws in different countries around the world. We also need to protect our own business critical information, and stop inappropriate access to and use of such information, including through cyber-attack.
Cyber security is an integral part of Coats’ technology strategy and a top priority for our business. Our approach recognises the 10 steps to cyber security framework sponsored by the UK government.
Coats' cyber security programme covers all the physical, software and human aspects associated with maintaining secure data systems and protecting our intellectual property. We are using multiple lines of defence and simplifying our data infrastructure to reduce our risks.
During 2015 we issued a new data protection policy and during 2016, we developed a cyber security computer based training module which all employees with system access were required to complete.
Engaging our employees
We couldn’t achieve these high standards across the business without the help of our employees and we continually seek their views through our annual employee engagement survey to see how we are doing. Our 2016 results showed that 92% of our employees think that Coats is a socially and environmentally responsible company. This is an increase of one percentage point from 2015 and 9 points above the IBM Kenexa industry norm. 90% of our employees also feel that our senior leaders are committed to ethical business practices and conduct (up one percentage point from 2015).