Ethics: A company wide priority
Coats operates to the highest business and employment standards wherever we operate. We maintain a working environment that we can be proud of and this is a shared responsibility.
It is vitally important that everyone who works for Coats (or acts on our behalf) understands their role in upholding our responsible approach to business and abiding by our Ethics Code (PDF). Everyone in the business needs to take responsibility for setting, and living by, the highest standards in terms of ethical behaviour, and the laws relating to anti-corruption and fair competition.
Over the past three years we have taken a fresh look at our global standards and policies and in particular those relating to business practices and the way we operate. As a result, in 2017 and also in 2018, we reviewed our various ethics and compliance policies, including updating our Whistleblowing Policy which encourages the reporting of non-compliance with our codes of practice and policies.
Our ethics and compliance training programme
Our ethics and compliance training programme was originally developed in 2011. It covers three main areas:
- Ethics in general (this includes fraud, conflict of interest and employment amongst other things)
- Bribery and Corruption
- Competition Law
This programme is tailored for different roles within the Group. We use targeted online training modules for our senior managers and those with customer facing roles. These online training modules are refreshed for all nominated employees every two years and are mandatory for all senior employees and those with externally facing roles. In addition, more than 700 new starters completed this online training during 2017, bringing the total who completed the training in that period to more than 4,500. A refreshed version of the training was rolled out during 2018 to a similar number of employees and, additionally, to agents undertaking work on Coats’ behalf.
This online training package covers the core themes of our Corporate Responsibility (CR) programme, including anti-corruption, competition, slavery, child labour and ethics. In addition, a number of face-to-face training sessions have been held in key high-risk locations, such as Brazil, Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam, to help ensure that everyone at and associated with Coats continues to understand Coats’ high ethical standards.
During 2018, we refreshed and re-launched our ‘data protection’ training module to reflect our global cyber security programme and legislation changes. Cyber security is an integral part of Coats’ technology strategy and a top priority for our business. Our approach recognises "the 10 steps to the cyber security" framework sponsored by the UK government. During 2018, in addition to the data protection training, all employees with system access had to complete a cyber security computer-based training module.
We believe that this approach is an effective way to ensure that Coats’ senior employees, and those engaged in sales and procurement roles (including Coats’ agents), have a clear understanding of our expectations. Coats’ suppliers are made aware of Coats’ ethical standards through Coats’ Supplier Code.
‘Doing the right thing’ campaign
High ethical standards make good business sense and they create value for our company, our shareholders and ultimately for society as a whole. This is why we launched our Doing the right thing campaign in April 2017, which further embeds ethics into our culture. It is coordinated by the Group Legal team and, to deliver it, we have nominated around 20 Ethical Culture Champions across the Group. These champions act as points of contact between local teams and the Group Legal team, to help disseminate information (throughout the company), to support the embedding of ethics-related initiatives in partnerships with local management, and to provide feedback and insights on areas where further support would be helpful. The campaign continued to be developed and refreshed throughout 2018 and into 2019 (where new initiatives have been and are being, launched).
We continually promote Doing the right thing by raising awareness and embedding our CR policies and our ethical standards across the business. Key to making sure Doing the right thing becomes part of how we behave every day is keeping the values behind the campaign at the front of everyone’s mind. To help with this, we use our internal communications to showcase teams who do the right thing and demonstrate the highest standards of ethical behaviour, we share best practice via our intranet, and we run a global Ethics Day in October.
The Coats events for Global Ethics Day took place across the world to share views on what doing the right thing means to our employees. Those events saw each Coats site create a Doing the right thing message tree on which team members wrote statements outlining what Doing the right thing means to them. There was also a global ‘virtual message tree’ created on our intranet. Events, including discussions, video productions, competitions and parliamentary-style debates on topical ethical issues took place in countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Poland, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the UK and Vietnam.