As a global company, we impact millions of people’s lives every day, from employees and consumers to suppliers and our communities. With our hygiene and health solutions, we support people around the world to improve their wellbeing in a sustainable way.
Caring for people’s well-being and supporting human dignity is a fundamental part of our identity. To retain the trust of our stakeholders we must uphold these values wherever in the world we operate.
Our approach to human rights is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, we actively support human rights and conduct our business in a manner that is consistent with the principles of the Global Compact, the International Bill of Human Rights, the ILO Core Conventions and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
This means that we support and respect internationally recognized human rights wherever we operate. When national laws conflict with international human rights standards, we will adhere to national law, while seeking ways to honor and respect the principles of international human rights.
Our commitment is reflected throughout our Code of Conduct and company policies. The Code of Conduct is approved by Essity’s Board of Directors. We manage risks by assessing how our products, services, operations and business relationships impact human rights. Human rights due diligence is integrated into our key processes, and whenever we identify a potential or actual negative impact we will take steps to mitigate or remediate any harmful activities.
We identify our human rights risks through a group-wide human rights assessment process. With the goal of respecting human rights in our entire value chain, we concentrate our efforts on the areas where we believe we have the greatest impact and influence. This has resulted in three main focus areas:
Human rights in the workplace
This includes labor-related risks such as forced labor, occupational health and safety, discrimination, right to equal work for equal pay in our direct operations as well as supply chain.
Rights to land
Our sourcing of renewable fibers and pulp risks us being linked to conflicts over land rights. This is especially a concern from a human rights perspective, where indigenous communities are involved.
Access to health and hygiene
As a provider of health and hygiene solutions, it is critical that our products and services are safe. It is also important that they are produced, distributed and disposed of in a responsible and sustainable manner. As a company offering these products, Essity aims to assume responsibility for the entire life cycle of its products, even after they have been used. Our ambition is to design our products and packaging for a circular society, meaning we constantly explore new designs and materials to increase the reuse and recyclability of our products and packaging.
We aim to create a safe and healthy workplace based on ethical practices for everyone who work for us. Our commitment is outlined in our Code of Conduct and our group policies.
We work constantly to minimize any work-related accidents. We recognize the right of employees to join unions and collective bargaining and we keep a continuous dialogue with works council/union representatives on matters related to employee employment terms and conditions.
To detect and act on potential abuse, we encourage all employees to report any concerns or violation to their managers, human resources or union/works council representatives through our established complaint procedures. We have also established a global reporting hotline, where our employees can report serious misconduct anonymously (when allowed by local law).
The trust our customers and consumers place in us is of great importance to us and our business. We are committed to delivering sustainable and high-quality solutions for our customers, consumers and patients. The health and safety of our users is central in everything we do, and we have robust processes in place to ensure the safety of those who use our products. We also have centralized systems to timely manage complaints from our customers or consumers with respect to our products.
We work closely with our suppliers and other business partners to ensure that human rights are respected in the supply chain. The standard set forth in our Code of Conduct is reflected in our Global Supplier Standard, which is implemented through our sourcing organization.
Essity publicly reports its challenges and progress in human rights areas in its annual sustainability report, adhering to Global Reporting Initiative guidelines, G4 Core and applying the reporting framework for the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights. As a member of the UN Global Compact, we also publicly report our human rights progress through our annual Communication of Progress (COP).
Our human rights commitments and efforts are overseen by the Vice President of Compliance and Ethics, reporting into Essity’s Compliance Council, which includes members of the Executive Management Team. The responsibility to implement our human rights commitments follows our line management structure, with the support of group functions such as Human resources, Sustainability and Legal. Board-level oversight is provided by the company CEO and management team, where breaches are reported through the groups’ Internal Control to the audit committee.
All our employees must sign our Code of Conduct upon commencement of their employment, and are required to take the Code of Conduct training on a regular basis.
Our suppliers and other business partners are expected to adhere to similar standards to those reflected in our Code. Compliance with such standards is a prime factor when selecting our business partners.
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