Essity B 257.5 (+3 SEK) on 24-May-2022 17:29

Ethics – from compliance to leadership

During 2016, we developed our position on ethics and integrity. We wanted to move beyond regulations and controls to understand the sociological and psychological factors behind rule breaches. Or to put it simply; why good people sometimes exhibit inappropriate behavior.

A culture characterized by integrity begins with two key insights: that surroundings have a major impact on the actions of individuals and that it is necessary to understand and handle ethical gray areas. It requires in turn that ethics becomes an issue of leadership rather than a question of obeying rules. This approach is advocated by Guido Palazzo, professor in business ethics at the Lausanne School of Economics, and the person who helped us with a training initiative that began during the year.

The initiative was in two parts: a lecture on culture, peer pressure and other environmental factors, and a card game about ethical dilemmas. By playing the game, participants were asked to discuss difficult situations, such as relationships toward customers and suppliers, conflicts of interest and issues concerning coworkers. By showing that there is rarely one correct answer, we wanted to strengthen the ability of participants to handle various situations. These discussions also helped the participants to feel more comfortable in sharing dilemmas they had faced themselves.

The training initiative began with the Executive Management Team and was then taken to our management conference with 150 of the company’s top managers. About 1,000 managers will have taken part in the project by the beginning of 2017. It will then be incorporated into our ordinary leadership development activities.

Extensive antitrust program

Free and undistorted competition is a cornerstone in every society and a precondition for every sustainable business operation. We conduct extensive operations in many countries with different cultures. As a company, we are therefore exposed to the risk of violating competition rules and is also subject to certain investigations by national competition authorities. Violating these rules is never acceptable and is in direct conflict with company´s values. We take a very serious view of this and has therefore created an extensive internal training program, which was strengthened in 2016. The program includes a risk analysis, various forms of training (e-learning, workshops), guidelines, an approval requirement for certain competitor contacts and recurring reminders.

Focus on human rights

To ensure that human rights are respected in all aspects of our business, we are constantly working to understand and manage the risks in the area. 

During 2016, we developed a model to help our various units to map the risk of rights violations. The company’s business unit in Latin America was the first to use the model. This work began with a workshop for the management in Latin America. Participants received an introduction to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and then drew up an overall risk map for the region. The second step included similar workshops and risk mapping for Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Central America. Action plans will also be implemented to manage high-risk areas. The plans will be finalized during 2017.