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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

Our number one priority is to keep our employees safe, and our health, safety and welfare programmes continue to be successful in keeping our accident statistics low.  In 2015 we were pleased to see that 94% of our employees think Coats is committed to employee safety (seven 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.

We use the USA Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reporting methodology globally, which produces an index of all recordable health and safety incidents per hundred Full Time Employees (FTEs).  During 2015, our global accident rate was 0.29 recordable incidents per 100 FTEs (compared to 0.33 in 2014, 0.37 in 2013, and 0.48 in 2012).  This is well below the latest OSHA average of 3.2 for US textile mills and has been dropping steadily since 2011.  We are also pleased that our recordable accident rates are 70% lower than the UK average data for the manufacture of textiles, as reported by the Health and Safety Executive for 2014/15.

However, there is always more we can do and we aim to reduce our accident levels still further in the coming years.

Our most common accidents in the workplace involve hand injuries, e.g. cuts or machine crushing. Coats Bangladesh's Gazipur Plant has taken significant steps to reduce hand injury and has surveyed the usage of blades and knives at their site. During 2015, Gazipur ran awareness initiatives among employees to ensure there were no non-standard knives or blades being used. As a result there were only three first aid related hand injuries in the year.

In 2015, we carried out nearly 445,000 hours of health and safety training across our sites (up from 242,000 in 2014), as well as a further 205,000 hours training dedicated to fire safety (up from 43,000 in 2014).

We continue to raise awareness of road safety to keep our employees safe when they are commuting to and from work. ‘Road Safety Champions’, appointed at each site, continue to address local commuting issues, which tend to be different in different countries and locations.

We have also rolled out Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) programmes across nearly all of our manufacturing and warehouse locations and have seen first-hand how that can reduce our overall accident rate. During 2013 we completed a major review of the health and safety status of all our sites, visiting 18 of our most strategic sites and formulating detailed improvement plans for implementation in 2014 through 2016. This case study illustrates the work that has been done last year across China to improve safety standards.

We continue to benchmark our safety performance against recognised global leaders in health and safety, such as DuPont and Avery Dennison, and received a number of awards for safety. This case study illustrates Coats Bangladesh receiving Decathlon's Sustainable Development award in March 2015, in recognition of our performance in the area of ‘Human Responsibility in Production’. The judgement criteria included a number of aspects of safety and employee wellbeing.

Employee engagement

In order to achieve our business goals, we rely on our employees being engaged and driving our business forward. For the past six 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 our highest ever participation rate of 98% in the 2015 survey, we were pleased to see that our employee engagement score has increased to 83% (two percentage points higher than the previous year and three points higher than 2013). This has strengthened Coats’ position 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. We have also received a number of awards for our employee programmes, including the ‘people empowerment award’ for our Phong Phu site in Vietnam in 2014.

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 2015 we began working on a new global employee value proposition and carried out a survey across all our divisions and functions involving over 2,000 people.  The results of the survey helped us understand what makes Coats an employer of choice in the markets where we operate.

We tested our thinking with a pilot project in China where we ran focus groups with our employees to try to understand what motivates them 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.  We are now working with the local management team to ensure Coats remains an attractive employer in the highly mobile Chinese employment market.

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 had comprehensive succession plans in place at the end of 2015.

We have continued with our award winning Management Capability Development Programme (MCD).  The MCD is a tailored learning programme available in three different languages aimed at strengthening leadership skills throughout the business.  By the end of 2015, a further 12 cohorts of up to 20 people each will have started their 18-month programme.  This brings us to over 500 people across 10 countries having participated in the MCD programme since its inception.   We will extend MCD to four languages in 2016, with a further 200 starting the programme next year.

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, 47% are in new or expanded roles.  A third group of 10 will start the programme in June 2016.

This year we also introduced:

  • A Sales Leader Excellence programme and delivered three workshops for approx. 20 people per workshop. This was focused on country managers, sales leaders and sales specialists embedding the learning from the programmes we ran in 2013/14.
  • Training resources covering all core aspects of performance management excellence which were passed to the markets for local delivery and adaptation.
  • Supervisory Skills Training modules for local markets to deliver to their people who are not yet ready for MCD, but are starting out on their managerial journey.
  • Unconscious Bias training in support of our diversity and inclusion initiative (see below).
  • A full set of interview guides based on our Leadership Capability Framework.

2016 will see us further our senior management succession plans and continue with the CEO Circle, MCD and sales force effectiveness programmes, as well as supporting our diversity and inclusion initiative by introducing a mentoring programme. We will also introduce a new Coats Leadership Programme for Grades 12-15, who are not high potentials, but are too senior for MCD.

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 2015, we had over 70 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 19% of our senior management positions are occupied by women. 

We are aiming to increase the diversity of our workforce through a range of activities.  In January 2015 we launched a global diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiative, 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 new global D&I network holds regular virtual meetings, featuring guest speakers, which are 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.  In addition, the proportion of women enrolled on our management development programmes is increasing and we have invested in unconscious bias training which is being rolled out across our senior teams and the business more widely. We will report on our progress next year as these initiatives develop.

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 and 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.

Winning awards

Yet again, 2015 saw Coats pick up a number of awards for its employment, sales and customer practices across the world.   Here are a few examples.

Early in the year, Coats Albany in the US won the ‘Women’s Choice Award’ for their Red Heart brand, recognising their commitment to empowering women to make smart buying choices.

In August, the Thai government awarded Coats Thailand a ‘Zero Accident Award Silver Medal’ for five consecutive years without lost time through accidents.

Coats Indonesia was awarded ‘Outstanding Performance on Labour Practice’ by ECCO Holding A/S at its Code of Conduct Summit in September 2015.  This is an annual event where all the ECCO senior managers and external stakeholders get together to share best practices. The award was given for the Coats team’s successful Human Resources management system, its fostering of talent management, learning and development, and its engagement with the community.

In addition our partnership with the School for CEOs who help to develop our senior leaders, was recognised at the ‘Training Journal’ awards.



Corporate Responsibility case studies

Integrating our approach to Corporate Responsibility across our business operations

Read all case studies