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Our People

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

People are at the heart of our business. Together they help us to deliver value to our customers. Profit for our shareholders and technology innovation that will keep us in business for the long-term.

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.

The pace of change in the business world and the constant pressure to adapt to new technologies means that we must be more agile than ever before. Our employees are constantly refreshing and updating their skills and expertise to keep pace. Competition for talent in the digital age is increasing and the traditional concept of a career is being challenged. Employees are looking for more from their careers than simply job satisfaction and so our ‘employee value proposition’ has to be competitive in the marketplace: offering fair rewards and recognition and opportunities for development, supporting health and wellbeing and enabling employees to make a difference throughout their careers. Our new five-year People Strategy tackles these issues head on, underpins our business goals and aims to lead all our employees from the Industrial to the Digital Age.

Our global employee value proposition (EVP) 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.

Attracting talent and enabling them to grow

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.

Mastering Coats digital future will require us to attract and retain a talented workforce who are totally engaged and with an energy for change. During 2017 we have strengthened our recruitment processes and continued our capability development programmes across the business.

Our new recruitment website contains information about our employee value proposition, and provides an online applications process and the ability to handle candidates more efficiently. The impact of this is that we have delivered employment opportunity to many more people. Since its launch we have received more than 17,000 visits to the site from over 70 countries and are continuing to receive more than 1,000 new visitors per month. To date, we have advertised 117 vacancies via the website and received more than 150 applications as a result.

We have continued to roll out our Management Capability Development (MCD) and Transcend Leaders programmes. The MCD is a tailored learning programme available in five different languages (English, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese and Turkish) aimed at strengthening leadership skills throughout the business.  The Transcend leaders programme is targeted at our senior managers and builds on the skills developed in the MCD programme.  The main goal of Transcend is to develop the essential Leadership Competences that will drive success for the company in the coming years. 

The impact of these two programmes is that we are developing both the core leadership skills needed to achieve our short-term goals and the specific skill sets that will take the business into the next decade. Since its launch in 2013, over 400 employees have completed the MCD, 118 are ongoing, and 152 new participants started their journey during 2017. Currently 72 leaders spread globally are enrolled on Transcend.

In support of our continual learning imperative, 2017 also saw the launch of Minerva, our new online digital platform which provides over 700 resources, including online learning tools, videos and tip sheets.  Minerva is available to everyone who uses our Perform platform and enables them to access content on many aspects of business and professional excellence including building teams, managing change and communication skills.  The courses, produced by world class organisations such as Skill Pill and TED, are quick and easy to access and in many cases can be completed very quickly.

Respecting each other

It is important to us that Coats’ culture and values are evident across our business and that we respect our basic Human Rights. Every part of our business must provide a respectful and inclusive environment, enabling positive teamwork and the freedom for all individuals to operate and to grow. At the heart of this is the way we treat each other and the respect that we show. We have established a global code of ethics and conduct which we reinforce regularly through our staff communications, and we actively celebrate the diversity that the Coats family brings and are working to see this diversity reflected at all levels in the organisation supported by our global Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programme.

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.  Although 2017 saw an increase in nationalities represented at senior levels, we still have a way to go, especially in encouraging females into more senior leadership roles across the company.   In 2017 we had 24 nationalities represented in our senior management group and 68 across Coats.  

We continue to improve our performance and succession planning processes, ensuring we have diverse shortlists and succession pools. We remain focused on supporting local D&I initiatives, and an example of the impact of this approach is that in 2017 our Turkey business.


Gender diversity1


Gender diversity by region

Operating profit growth chart

  1. Note: Senior Management includes Coats grade 12 and above, excluding board directors



Our global Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) network continues to grow. In March 2017 we celebrated International Women’s Day under the global theme #BeBoldForChange. Nearly 150 employees across the world were nominated as internal role models for their bold work to increase gender diversity at Coats. We also launched an online unconscious bias training programme which has been completed by more than 600 people. 

We remain focused on supporting local D&I initiatives, and an example of the impact of this approach is that in 2017 our Turkey business was named as one of the top three companies in the country where working conditions show equality of opportunity for women and men.

Striving for safety excellence

As a global manufacturing business, maintaining high standards of Health and Safety (H&S) is a key priority for us. Unfortunately, during 2017 one of our employees lost his life in a forklift accident at one of our India plants. We take every incident on our premises very seriously and have provided help and support for the family involved. Futhermore, we have investigated the fatality very carefully and identified lessons that we can learn, including enhanced safety exclusion zones around forklift truck routes and additional procedures around contractor management. We have also improved our H&S reporting and investigation procedures.

We have a comprehensive global H&S management system in place which is used by all our sites and during 2017 we have reviewed our policy and procedures. 11 of our sites are also accredited to the international H&S standard OHSAS18001 and we will be reviewing the transition to ISO 45001 during 2018. To reinforce our commitment to H&S, we ran a global safety campaign -- ‘Be the One’ -- to stress the importance that we place on keeping our people safe and to encourage our teams to improve their own performance. One direct impact of our increased emphasis on H&S performance and reporting over the past two years has been an increased number of incidents and near misses being recorded and investigated across our estate. Each location is targeted to reduce recordable incident rates and improve their annual H&S audit scores. Our global total recordable incident rate reduced slightly in 2017 by 2% to 0.55 (compared to 0.56 in 2016) and is 83% lower than the latest US OSHA data for textile mills of 3.2 incidents per 100 FTEs per year.

Recordable incident rate (Number of injuries per 100 FTEs per year

We also recognise that our employees are increasingly at risk when they are not at our sites and have observed an increasing number of commuting incidents. We actively train our people to keep themselves safe when not at work and monitor H&S incidents during their commute to and from our sites.

We were really pleased that 94% of our staff in our recent engagement survey felt that Coats was committed to employee safety – this puts us in the top 10% of companies globally.  We appreciate that there is always more we can do and we aim to reduce our accident levels further in the coming years.  Have a look at our safety case study to find out more about our programmes and performance.

Employee engagement

In order to achieve our business goals, we rely on our employees being engaged and driving our business forward. Our seventh employee engagement survey was carried out in November; this assesses how we are doing and helps to identify areas where we can do better. We were pleased to see that our score has been maintained at 83%, the same level for the past three years, with a remarkable 99% of our workforce taking part. This score is 15% higher than our initial survey in 2011 and keeps us in the top 10% of companies surveyed globally.    Our case study outlines the ways in which we engage with our employees.

Our employees remain extremely loyal to the business, with an average tenure of almost 12 years, ranging from 7 years in China and almost 20 years in Europe.  According to our recent engagement survey, 84% of our employees would recommend Coats as a great place to work (in the top 10% globally).   Having said that our global average turnover rate is 19%, ranging from 12% in Europe, Middle East and Africa to 30% in China.    These turnover rates are comparable to, and in some cases better than, our industry wherever we operate.  For example, turnover in the manufacturing industry in the US, UK and Europe the rate for 2016 was 16%.

We also support employees who wish to join labour unions.  46% of our workforce are subject to collective bargaining agreements, with 34% of our employees members of a labour union.

Employee engagement score (%)

Human rights and employment standards

Our worldwide Employment Standards set out the principles which are observed across our global operations.  During 2017 we have been developing a new internal statement on Human Rights and Employee Standards, which will be published during 2018.  These standards state our approach to human rights. 

We uphold the aims of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 and the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and publish a statement on what we are doing to prevent modern slavery in our business and supply chains on our website.

Furthermore, we support the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights throughout all our operations. Our global policies uphold 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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