This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more


Case studies

We are committed to our CR programme and around the world our business units are undertaking initiatives and projects that support this.

The case studies below explain some of the activities under way and demonstrate how we are meeting our corporate responsibilities and developing best practice that we can share across our global operations.

Our People

Our global Diversity and Inclusion (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.

This year several local action plans have been developed/built as part of the global initiative, including in Turkey, China, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

We’ve also had some local events focusing on D&I taking place in addition to the International Women’s Day event. In Vietnam, for example, Anna Mitchell, MD, Online Business, Industrial and leader of the D&I programme attended the event for female managers of Coats Phong Phu, hosted by Bill Watson, Managing Director. During the meeting Anna shared her experience to date and how it has led her to becoming a senior leader at Coats. Attendees spoke about the challenges they face balancing their responsibilities inside and outside work as well as discussing some ideas that the company could implement to support working women.

In November, similar events were held in China and Brazil. Anna Mitchell attended the event in China and Stuart Morgan, Chief Legal and Risk Officer and Group Secretary, attended the one in Brazil. Anna and Stuart talked about the importance of the Coats D&I programme and the global actions that took place throughout 2016.

In addition, both events included a summary of local activities:

  • In China an Employee Communication Forum has been set up along with a suggestion scheme.  A workshop on women’s lives in modern society also took place.

  • In Brazil ethics workshops for all employees and a development programme for people with disabilities has been set up.

We employ over 19,000 people worldwide and we value our workforce highly. 

Our employees are from many different cultures and are based in 60 countries all around the world.  It is vital that we listen to what they think about Coats to help us create an excellent working environment and to retain and motivate our people across the company.

One of the ways we do this is through our annual employee engagement survey that we’ve been conducting for the last seven years. In 2016 we continued to have a high participation rate – a fantastic 97% of our employees took part.

Research has shown that organisations with high employee engagement scores also have better customer service, enhanced performance (productivity, sales, profit), and reduced absenteeism.  Our 2016 overall engagement score (which shows how proud people are to work at Coats and how willing they are to work towards achieving common goals) is 83% (same as last year and two points higher than 2014).  Such a high engagement score maintains our position in the top 10% of all globally surveyed companies.  These results are testimony to the efforts of the many employees and managers who strive to make Coats a great place to work.

We are particularly proud of the favourable responses to the CR-related questions within the survey - all increased from their already high levels.  92% of our employees feel that Coats is socially and environmentally responsible, 95% believe that we are committed to employee safety, and 90% feel that our senior leadership is committed to ethical business practices and conduct.

This is very good news at the group level, but we know there are some areas of the business which need attention.  Our challenge for 2017 will be to maintain these high levels of engagement and work with individual teams to develop action plans and reach higher scores throughout.

The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority in everything we do.

In December 2015 an H&S Climate Survey took place for the first time at Coats, in Turkey. The survey was then rolled out to the rest of the organisation during 2016. In total, 47 units participated across 30 countries worldwide.

The aim of the Coats H&S Climate Survey was to review the organisation’s existing level of safety culture, identify perception gaps, determine positive and negative aspects of our current arrangements and help identify opportunities for improving how we work.

The Coats survey was based on the UK Health & Safety Laboratories (HSL) Safety Climate Tool* and investigated safety culture across 47 Coats Units, including manufacturing sites, warehouses and offices.

The 40 question survey covered 8 different topics:

1.Organisational commitment

2.Health and safety oriented behaviours

3: Health and safety trust

4: Usability of procedures

5: Engagement in health and safety

6: Peer group attitude

7: Resources for health and safety

8: Accident and near miss reporting

Coats’ global average ’Safety Climate Score’ came out higher than the HSL’s all industry average scores across all 8 categories.  Individually, 57 % of the 47 Coats units achieved a score higher than HSL’s average.  

The Climate Survey results were communicated to all employees and small facilitated focus group sessions were held to agree actions that should be taken in response to the feedback, including how to balance a culture of H&S with production outputs.

We intend to repeat the survey again in 2018.


At Coats, safety is our number one priority.  The well-being of our employees is vital to our business and we therefore take health and safety standards very seriously.

In China, the local management has made extensive improvements and raised awareness of health and safety issues to ensure a safe working environment.  Here are some examples.

Hearing protection assessment and training

At the Jinying plant Coats China carried out some hearing protection assessments and training programmes.  In our production facilities our employees are often exposed to high levels of noise stemming from machines and engines.  Workers wear hearing protection to reduce the sound level.  In August 2015, engineers from 3M – the personal protective equipment manufacturer – visited the Jinying plant to assess how people were wearing their 3M earplugs and earmuffs, and how well they worked for all our employees.  They also held detailed training sessions with Coats employees to explain the risk of hearing-impairment and the importance of wearing ear protection at work.

Improving Chemical Handling in the Dyehouse

In 2015, Coats Shanghai improved its health and safety procedures when handling chemicals onsite.  This included a number of upgrades to standard operating procedures and its behaviour-based safety management system.  For example, the chemical measuring process has been changed to make it more accurate, and it is now carried out at a dedicated station.  All chemical weighing operators also wear protection masks, safety gloves and goggles when working with chemicals.

In March 2015 Decathlon Bangladesh held its annual supplier meeting in Dhaka for senior managers in its Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers.

Three men holding the Decathlon award 

This year’s meeting also included an awards presentation.  Coats was the proud recipient of the Sustainable Development award in recognition of our performance in the area of ‘Human Responsibility in Production’.  In Decathlon’s supplier compliance inspections which focused on health and safety (with emphasis on fire safety and chemical handling) and a number of other aspects such as employee welfare and care for the environment, Coats performed very well.  Decathlon first inspected our Chittagong site back in 2013 and then again in 2014.  Notably Coats was the only Tier 2 supplier to win an award at the event.

Kunal Kapur, Sales and Marketing Director, and Stephen Cox, Manufacturing Director, collected the award on behalf of Coats. 

Close up of the Decathlon award

At Coats, we take a genuine interest in the well-being of our employees, and not only during working hours.  Traffic accidents are a major cause of injury, disability, death, vehicle and property damage.  They also create a financial cost to society and the individuals involved, so our employees are being trained in road safety to help them stay safe on their way to and from work.


We reinforced the training by holding a global conference call, involving 193 managers and supervisors from 35 different countries.  The objective was to raise awareness of commuter safety and underline the duty of care that Coats has for all employees travelling between their home and work.

‘Road Safety Champions’ are being appointed at each site, with the task of addressing the local commuting issues. Local workshops have been conducted at every site and their feedback is being consolidated into immediate and longer term corporate action plans.  Additionally, special advice sheets have been prepared for pedestrians and bus users, as well as motorcycle users and cyclists.

Roadsafety 2

In 2015, Coats Mexico’s Tlaxcala plant was the proud recipient of the ‘Socially Responsible Company Certificate’ granted by the country’s Ministry of Labour.  The plant, which manufactures apparel and footwear thread, was recognised for its achievements in employee welfare.  

The site’s Employee Engagement Survey results for 2015 showed improvement across all dimensions compared to the previous year as a result of a planned programme of initiatives across the site to support the feedback from employees.  The site scored above 80% in all dimensions of this year’s survey and over 90% in some dimensions such as ‘Safety’ ‘Future / Vision’, ‘Community, Diversity & Ethics’, ‘Employee Engagement’ , and ‘Customer Service / Orientation’.

Coats Mexico is proud that these efforts have been recognised by the Ministry of Labour and continues to work hard to build on these achievements.  

Certificate from Mexican government body

Our employees are the core of our business and their well-being is very important to us.  We continuously improve our health, safety and welfare programmes to ensure a safe working environment.  This way we can minimise accidents and keep our employees safe.

Hand injuries are the most common type of injury in Coats.  Our operation in Bangladesh decided to specifically address this issue and over the past two years has reduced the numbers of hand injuries very successfully.  In 2013, over 40% of all recordable accidents at our Gazipur plant were hand injuries.  Since then the site has raised awareness on the safe use of cutting tools and has managed to bring the numbers of injuries down quite significantly.  While there were 34 hand injuries in 2013, a year later the site reported only five hand injuries.  In 2015 it reduced this even further to three hand injury incidents.

Coats Bangladesh started this initiative by conducting a survey among the employees to see how they were using knives and blades.  As a result of the feedback the Gazipur plant issued special hand safety instructions and introduced a number of policies on the safe use of knives.  For example, the plant now only allows the use of self-retracting cutting devices, non-standard knives can no longer be used, and signs on the walls remind employees which knives are allowed.  To increase the safety standards still further, employees now wear safety gloves when using the self-retracting knives.  The plant also held awareness sessions with the employees to teach them about the safe use of knives and blades.

Bangladesh Hand Injuries


At Coats, the well-being of our employees is very important to us, and not only during working hours. Traffic accidents are a major cause of injury, disability, death, and vehicle and property damage. They also generate financial costs for the individuals involved and society as a whole.

Coats Indonesia has been improving employee road safety through its Behaviour Based Safety Programme. The programme covers the risks associated with walking, cycling, driving and taking public transport. For example, an initial assessment of employees’ motorcycles found that 24% of them had safety issues (due to faulty lamps, brakes, etc) – so something had to be done.

Under the programme, employees have received training on how to cycle and drive safely, how to make sure that their vehicles meet proper safety standards, how to cross roads safely, and how to understand traffic signs. Coats Indonesia has also helped improve the local infrastructure near the factory, introducing zebra crossings, speed bumps, better lighting, and safety signs for pedestrians.

Employee road safety awareness has improved thanks to the training, and we’ve also helped make the surrounding communities safer. We look forward to continuing the project in future years, for our employees’ benefit, for the Company’s benefit, and for the benefit of the local communities.

Safety compliance check lists and inspection
Safety compliance check lists and inspection

safety banner safety poster
Safety banner and poster

Safety cycling and driving training
Safety cycling and driving training

At Coats, we take pride in the way that we openly and honestly communicate with employees.  We give them confidence to come forward with ideas, helping creativity to flourish and encouraging positive behaviour.  We believe that if people genuinely feel that they have the power to make a difference, they will excel.  This rewards them with personal fulfillment and drives the business to better results.  

In 2014, Coats Phong Phu, Vietnam, was recognised for its outstanding commitment to empowerment by winning the Supply Chain People Empowerment Award.  The award was granted by Vietnam Supply Chain (a not for profit association for supply chain professionals) at a ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City, attended by over 300 business leaders and industry experts.  

Coats Phong Phu proved its talent for employee engagement (engagement being a key component of empowerment), culture of continuous improvement, and ability to actively listen to employees’ ideas.  It has implemented several employee ideas, and by doing so, has made improvements to working conditions, productivity and safety.  For example: our employee Sáng Kiến Của reduced the breakdown rate of a thread winding machine from 39% of the time to 1%, by designing and installing a simple device to stop the thread becoming stuck in the roller.  There are many other stories like this one.  

Coats Phong Phu collecting awardCoats Phong Phu award

In the Awards summary, Coats Phong Phu was referred to as an “inspiring company with amazingly committed people … thriving for common success.  It has built its people strategy around care, trust, innovation, and long term success.  It listens and implements staff ideas and has reached a people engagement level of 80% in an industry that barely reaches half that.”  

We feel that these comments could equally apply to Coats as a whole – empowerment is one of our strengths and something we value highly.

Our number one priority is to keep our employees safe, and we are very proud that our operations in the USA have been publically recognised for that.      

In March 2014, Coats and Clark won two first place awards at the Georgia Association of Manufacturers’ Annual Safety Conference, held in Atlanta.  The Toccoa Plant received first place in the small size manufacturing plant category and the Albany Distribution Centre (pictured) received first place in the small size distribution facility category.           

US Safety awards 1

Our Sevier Plant (pictured) was also honoured at a safety banquet hosted by Commissioner Cherie Berry of the North Carolina Department of Labor.  The plant received two awards: The Gold Safety Award for achieving an incident rate 50% lower than the industry average, and the Million Hours Award for accumulating one million employee working hours without injuries or illnesses that required days away from work.      

US safety awards 2

All in all, a resounding success.

Our people are central to our business at Coats.  It’s obvious to us that creating a safe working environment is not only the right thing to do, but also vital to the success of our business.  Therefore, we take health and safety in the workplace very seriously.

During 2013, Coats Phong Phu in Vietnam held their first Health and Safety Week.  The aim was to build safety awareness and commitments amongst employees.  The week was supported at the highest level of the company by our group Chief Executive, Paul Forman, who attended in person (see the first photo below).

Over 800 employees participated in health and safety activities, which included:

  • A fire extinguishing competition
  • A class on how to use a water hose to fight fires
  • A first aid competition
  • Developing a safety handbook and distributing it to colleagues.
  • We also involved Coats families by organising a health and safety themed painting contest for children

The week was a resounding success, successfully promoting our health and safety culture at Coats.

Health and Safety Week Vietnam 2013


Health and Safety Week Vietnam 2013

Behaviour Based Safety

The safety and well-being of Coats employees is a top priority and is reflected in our low group-wide accident rate.  In addition to reducing safety risks we promote a Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) approach that pre-emptively improves working conditions.  In Morocco, the team has used their BBS programme to further develop the overall site safety and comfort, enhance productivity and employee welfare.  Apart from BBS, Coats Morocco has been embracing the CR spirit in a number of other ways…

Oversight and communication

A Health and Safety Committee has been established and meets monthly to set and manage actions that will improve working conditions.  Information is shared with everyone on site by displaying objectives, hygiene and safety rules, as well as Coats’ principles.


A healthy workforce is essential and in Morocco efforts are made to provide access to good healthcare.  An infirmary is open twice a week for workers to see a nurse and once a week the factory is visited by a doctor.  During ‘flu season’ a vaccination campaign is run to help avoid seasonal illness.

A safer place to work

Ensuring safety standards is paramount for the team in Morocco.  For example, personal protective equipment is available to workers and is kept accessible in the place where they perform their jobs. 

Behaviour Based Safety Morocco

Renovations and improvements on site

The site has recently implemented a series of improvements in key areas.  These included building dining halls for the office and factory floor workers, renovating the chemical and dyeing storage facilities, and repainting the whole site.  In addition, an investment in window blinds has reduced glare from the sun and has meant that air conditioning can be used less frequently, improving the workplace environment and reducing energy use. 

Team-building exercises

Initiatives to enhance company pride and promote teamwork have also sparked the creation of a committee to organise social and sports functions.  Below is a photo of the Coats Morocco employees participating in a team-building event.

Morocco team

It is important that our people have the skills they need to do their job effectively and to create a safe and pleasant workplace.  This is vital for our business to operate and enhances employee job satisfaction and well-being.

In Tunisia, the local management have implemented extensive annual training plans for their employees.  In 2012, 196 participants received 3,635 hours of training, which amounts to 19 hours of training per participant.

To help bolster customer service and day-to-day tasks, external courses in English, Excel, and customer relationship management were given.

To support managers in improving their ability to lead their teams, sessions on leadership, coaching, and team building were given by experts from outside Coats.

Making Coats a safe and secure workplace is of paramount importance.  Therefore our people are trained regularly on health and safety.  In 2012 the employees in Tunisia received training on first aid, using a defibrillator, and fire safety.

In addition to offering professional training courses, Coat Tunisia makes sure the internal knowledge and skills are shared through internal training sessions.  In 2012 these focused on internal systems and processes, health and safety, the use of electronics, and management software.

Looking ahead to 2013, priority areas for training will include training trainers, stress management, internal systems, and English.

Our People 2012-1 Image 1


Our People 2012-1 image 2


A world of opportunities

Find out what it's like to be part of a diverse global team

Careers with Coats

Global directory

Select contact