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Our People

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We are especially committed to maintaining high standards of employee safety and engaging with our workforce on issues that matter to them.

Reflecting our commitment to reporting performance in these areas, we have formally adopted our annual Global Accident rate and Employee Engagement score as two non-financial Key Performance Indicators for the Group.

A healthy working environment

Maintaining high standards of Health and Safety (H&S) is our number one priority. This year we ran several global campaigns to reinforce the importance that we place on keeping our people safe and to encourage our teams to improve their performance.

One of the significant improvements implemented in 2016 is the focus on leading indicators and the positive actions that are being taken to enhance the presence of safety rather than a focus on events after an incident has occurred.     Our new Safety Leadership Essentials programme promotes a positive, proactive safety culture across the business and helps increase the understanding of our H&S management system. This training programme was developed and introduced in the US and is now being rolled out globally. To kick-start this process, during 2016, 1873 (85%) of our managers, team leaders and supervisors attended a 1-day session focused on the key principles of safety leadership.

To increase awareness of our safety culture, we also ran a world-wide photography competition asking people to capture Coats employees behaving in a safe way. We were pleased to see over 120 people get involved from all regions where we operate.

We have also renewed our approach to job safety and introduced a new Task Risk Assessment (TaRA) process.   TaRA was developed and introduced in May 2016 by training all the regional H&S Directors and then cascading the training throughout the organisation by November.

To keep track of how we are doing, we continuously monitor the safety performance across all our sites. Each location is targeted to reduce recordable incident rates and improve their annual H&S audit scores. All employees are encouraged to report safety incidents, no matter how minor, so that we can learn from them and improve. The number of minor incidents being reported this year, e.g. cuts and bruises, has increased, and as a result, our global total recordable injury rate increased by 31% to 0.38 (compared to 0.29 in 2015, 0.33 in 2014, 0.37 in 2013, and 0.48 in 2012). Nevertheless, it remains 89% lower than the latest US OSHA data for textile mills of 3.4 and 14% lower than the UK average data for the manufacture of textiles, as reported by the Health and Safety Executive for 2015/16.  Furthermore, the severity of our recordable incidents has reduced, with 35% less lost time due to injuries for 2016, as compared to 2015. As a result, our average lost time per incident dropped by 49%. Hand and finger injuries represent around 50% of our recordable incidents and so in July we launched a coordinated global campaign to encourage our employees to look after their hands.

In 2016 we were pleased to see that 95% of our employees think Coats is committed to employee safety (eight percentage points above the norm published by IBM Kenexa, a leading specialist survey organisation) and 92% feel free to discuss work hazards and safety issues openly.

During 2016 we also carried out a detailed Safety Climate Survey, based on the UK Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL) system.  This provided more detailed insight into our front line employees’ view on safety within their workplace.  We were pleased to see Coats scoring above average for six out of the eight categories within the HSL system.  The survey will be repeated again in 2017.

As well as focusing on safety, a number of teams have also launched initiatives to support employees to be healthy. In Thailand, the team has a daily 15-minute morning stretching programme which not only exercises the body but helps the team to start each day in a positive mood. A ‘Fitbit Challenge’ has been launched in the US. It encourages employees to get fit by giving awards to people who make the most progress. In Brazil information about healthy eating, welfare and quality of life is shared on a daily basis with employees.

In April, Coats Phong Phu’s Hung Yen Branch received an award from the Hung Yen Province People Committee in recognition of the success of the 2016 Vietnam Labour Safety and Fire Prevention Day. The event was broadcast live on Hung Yen Television.

We appreciate that there is always more we can do and we aim to reduce our accident levels further in the coming years.

Employee engagement

In order to achieve our business goals, we rely on our employees being engaged and driving our business forward. For the past seven years we have been conducting annual employee engagement surveys, to make sure we are on the right track. We benchmark our workplace culture through our employee engagement survey and this tells us how people feel about working at Coats and helps us identify areas that need attention. With  a participation rate of 97% in the 2016 survey, we were pleased to see that our employee engagement score has been maintained at 83% (same level as the previous year and two points higher than 2014). This keeps Coats in the top 10% of all global surveyed companies (as benchmarked by IBM Kenexa, a leading specialist survey organisation).

Our case studies highlight some of the initiatives that have been initiated as a result of feedback from the engagement surveys. -

Making Coats an employer of choice in a highly mobile market

Maintaining a skilled and motivated workforce is a key driver for our business.

During 2016 we finalised our new global employee value proposition (EVP) which sets out what makes Coats an employer of choice in the markets where we operate.

The EVP was developed with the help of our employees and through a pilot project in China we were able to test our understanding of what motivates our employees to work for Coats and what they value in their daily working lives.  Some of the themes raised included respect, work-life balance, health benefits, development opportunities and compensation.    The final version as illustrated, clearly shows the culture of Coats - a place where we do the right thing, take pride in what we do and provide a rewarding environment, with positive team work and opportunities for all our employees to progress.

During 2016 we also further developed our performance review process. As well as measuring ‘what’ we achieve, we will also look at ‘how’ we behave when delivering our objectives.  The 2016 pilot covered senior leaders in grade 12 and above. The new performance review element will be rolled out more widely in 2017.

Talent and leadership development

It is important to Coats that we harness and nurture the best talent amongst our workforce and provide them with the skills and opportunities to succeed.  Through competitive packages we recruit and retain high calibre individuals.  We invest in our people by providing equal opportunities for learning, through general training and job-skills programmes and, where appropriate, tailored career planning and leadership development.

We continue to review our global approaches to leadership, talent development and succession planning.  All our senior management positions have comprehensive succession plans in place.

We have continued with our award winning Management Capability Development Programme (MCD).  The MCD is a tailored learning programme available in four different languages aimed at strengthening leadership skills throughout the business.  By the end of 2016, a further 11 cohorts of up to 24 people had started their 18-month programme. That’s a total of 207 employees, 40% of whom were women.  This brings us to over 700 people across 19 countries that have participated in the MCD programme since its inception.   We will continue to extend the MCD programme during 2017.  .

Our ‘CEO Circle’ initiative is a two-year programme designed to accelerate the development of leadership capabilities in a select group of high potential managers within Coats.   2014 and 2015 saw its first two groups of high potentials complete the programme.  Of the 17 people who have completed Circles 1 and 2, over 65% are in new or expanded roles.  A third group of 10 started the programme in June 2016.

During 2016, we also introduced a new Coats Leadership Programme for Grades 12-15 called Transcend.  This programme is targeted at our senior managers, who are not high potentials, but are too senior for MCD.  The main goal of Transcend is to develop the essential Leadership Competences that will drive success for the company in the coming years.  17 senior leaders from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia have started on this new 2-year programme and we will be monitoring their progress closely.

Over the year 83 team members attended eight workshops on unconscious bias – these were held in the UK and the US.  During 2017 we will be developing an online training module covering the elements of the unconscious bias training to enable us to reach out to the wider business.

2017 will see us further our senior management succession plans and continue with the MCD and senior leaders’ programmes, as well as supporting our diversity and inclusion initiative by introducing a mentoring programme

Global diversity and inclusion

We need to attract and retain the best talent from the widest pool to ensure the ongoing success and relevance of our business.  Our aim is to be a meritocracy where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.  A truly diverse workforce has many benefits – it brings different perspectives, ideas, skills and experience to an organisation and has a proven positive impact on employee engagement and business performance.

We want our employees to feel valued, respected and supported, and for the right conditions to be in place for everyone to reach their potential.

At the end of 2016, we had over 65 nationalities amongst our employees, more than 40 in our senior management group and over 20 of these are represented in our global leadership team.  Although our average gender split is good, with women representing over 40% of our global workforce, only 21% of our senior management positions are occupied by women.

We are aiming to increase the diversity of our workforce through a range of activities.  Back in January 2015 we launched our global diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, initially focused on increasing the number of women in senior positions across the company.  We carried out a spot survey of 500 employees exploring the subject of gender diversity; we are tracking responses by gender to equal opportunity questions in our annual engagement survey; and we have reviewed our approach to recruitment and development. Our priorities for D&I initiatives in 2016 included tracking compliance with our new recruitment guidelines; focussing on talent management and succession; continuing our unconscious bias training; and supporting local initiatives.

Our global D&I network held four virtual meetings during 2016, featuring guest speakers which were open to everyone across the business.  At least 150 of our employees regularly join the calls and we have a dedicated intranet microsite which holds key diversity resources and materials, accessible by some 7,500 employees.  The themes for the four network calls this year were: the conceptual case for gender and ethnic diversity; local diversity programmes in the US and Turkey; inclusive leadership and bias in business decisions.

During 2016, we celebrated International Women’s Day by running our own #pledgeforparity initiative.   Employees were invited to pledge a commitment to the global D&I initiative.  As part of this, we ran a global competition to get our teams to create a visual reminder of the pledges that people made on the day (the winner from Coats India is illustrated in the picture).  Particular Women’s Day events ran across Coats to mark the event including in Bangladesh, UK, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, US and Turkey.

In addition to our global activities, a number of local actions plans have been developed as part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.  These span the following six countries: Turkey, China, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

As a result of our D&I initiatives, we were pleased to see the proportion of women enrolling on our management development programmes increase (females made up 40% of both our 2016 CEO Circle and MCD programmes – for more on these see Our People) and we have invested in unconscious bias training for over 80 employees in 2016 - this is being rolled out across our senior teams and the business more widely.

Human rights and employment standards

Our worldwide Employment Standards set out the principles which are observed across our global operations.  These standards state our approach to human rights.  Our policies and procedures recognise the requirements of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the core ILO Conventions, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.


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