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Our Standards

  • Our Standards
  • Our Manufacturing
  • Our Environment
  • Our Partners
  • Our Communities
  • Our People
  • Our Products

We operate to high ethical business and employment standards across all of our global operations and encourage a culture of openness and honesty. Our business reputation, together with the trust and confidence of the people we do business with, is one of our most valuable assets and one which we strive to protect.

High ethical standards also make good business sense, they create value for our company, our shareholders and ultimately for society as a whole. We aim to create and maintain a trust-based and inclusive internal culture in which there is zero tolerance for exploitative employment practices (including  slavery, forced or bonded labour both in our own operations and in our supply chain) and bribery and corruption in any form, including facilitation payments. 

We operate a formal anti-corruption and competition committee comprising key business and functional leaders, chaired by our Chief Legal & Risk Officer, that meets 4 times a year to discuss any matters arising. In addition, we have around 20 Ethical Culture Champions who act as points of contact and support across the world. We use our internal communications to showcase teams that demonstrate the highest standards of ethical behaviour and share best practice via our intranet.

Ethical policies and standards

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.

Our global Ethics Code and Business Code of Conduct have both been reviewed and updated during 2017.  We have also updated and re-issued our anti-bribery and corruption policy.  These apply to all employees, in all Coats Group companies globally, as well as anyone acting on our behalf. 

Our Whistleblowing Policy, which has also been updated, is 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 2017 there were 50 cases reported to the Hotline, compared to 30 in 2016 – all of which were fully investigated and appropriate actions taken.

Ethics, anti-bribery and anti-corruption training -  doing the right thing

Our ethics and compliance training is tailored for different roles within the Group and we use targeted online training modules for our senior managers and those with customer facing roles.  The training is refreshed and repeated for all nominated employees every 2 years. In addition, more than 700 new starters completed this online training during 2017, bringing the total who have completed this training to more than 4,500. A refreshed version of the training is being rolled out during 2018.

To supplement our online training packages we continue to hold face-to-face training sessions in high risk locations.  Our ‘‘Doing the right thing’’ campaign, launched in 2017, further embeds our policies and standards into our culture.   In October, we ran a global Ethics Day, to reinforce our programme for ‘Doing the Right Thing’. Special events took place across the world to share views on what doing the right thing means to our employees.

Check out our Ethical standards case study for more information on our activities.

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 2017 all employees with system access had to complete a new a cyber security computer based training module .

We have robust controls in place to manage sensitive corporate and personal data and to ensure that  the data we hold about third parties is processed lawfully and fairly.   We comply with the provisions of the UK Data Protection Act 1988 and are getting prepared for the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulations which come into force in May 2018.  We have provided guidance for our team members together with establishing data protection principles and procedures which are applicable to all our operations.  These systems ensure that we:

  • take care of personal information
  • allow our employees and customers to access their personal data
  • obtain consent for the collection, use or disclosure of personal data
  • report data security incidents and respond accordingly

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 2017 results showed that 92% of our employees think that Coats is a socially and environmentally responsible company.  This is equal to our score in 2016 and an increase of one percentage point from 2015 and 9 points above the IBM Kenexa industry norm, keeping us firmly in the top 10% of companies globally.  89% of our employees also feel that our senior leaders are committed to ethical business practices and conduct (down one percentage point from 2016). This is also in the top 10% of global companies.


Corporate Responsibility case studies

Integrating our approach to Corporate Responsibility across our business operations

Read all case studies