Both planet and people – ingredients of successful sustainability
The understanding of just how critical sustainability is to our planet’s future is increasing steadily. And in this broadening perspective, it’s clear that organizations, apart from focusing on the environment, need to prioritize social responsibility as well.
A sustainable company cares for its employees, but also for people who come in contact with it and its products and solutions, directly or indirectly, throughout the value chain. This includes supplier employees as well as people living close to production facilities.
Promoting better working conditions
To quote from Axis’ Sustainability Report 2018: “Axis’ social responsibility means good working conditions, a safe and secure workplace characterized by equality and diversity, and human rights for employees in the company’s own operations and at suppliers.”
But how does that work in practice? In the Sustainability Report, several initiatives are described that promote better working conditions. These range from stress management training programs to activities that boost diversity and equality to initiatives that put pressure on suppliers.
“At Axis, the aim is that there shouldn’t be a difference, regardless of where in the world you work,” says Louise Dolck Strömberg, HR Director Operations. “That means that we have nice offices, the same good working conditions and similar benefit programs across the world. Of course, in reality, there will be differences between regions and countries, depending on traditions, regulations and what is seen as most important in various places.”
Huge regional differences
When you compare the attitudes to working conditions, there are huge regional differences across the globe. In the Western Hemisphere, labor rights such as collective bargaining agreements, freedom of association and non-discrimination are taken for granted.
On a more individual level, things such as work–life balance and self-fulfillment are essential and something that employers must relate to. This is especially true as the growing shortage of talent makes employer branding and working conditions business-critical.
However, in other parts of the world, attitudes, lax labor laws and other factors make the reality infinitely harsher for employees.
Supplier Code of Conduct shows the way
Axis does what it can to meet the challenge, and this goes beyond the company’s more than 3,000 employees in some 50 countries. It also comprises the working conditions of those working for the company’s partners and suppliers. Given that Axis has more than 230 suppliers, this is no small task.
“We don’t manufacture the products ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t take responsibility,” says Ausra Reinap, Environmental Engineer at Axis. “To us, it’s key that the manufacturing meets the highest environmental, social and ethical standards.”
Axis always strives for long-term collaborations and partnerships. These are always built on our Supplier Code of Conduct, which in turn is based on the ten UN Global Compact principles, covering human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.
“It’s essential that our partners understand and adhere to the Supplier Code of Conduct,” Ausra says. “Each year we conduct supplier audits to ensure that this is the case.”
Putting health, safety and quality in focus
The Supplier Code of Conduct was updated in 2017, which for example lead to tightened requirements for overtime control, based on the Responsible Business Alliance’s code of conduct which limits working to 60 hours per week including overtime. In some countries, Axis’ rules even surpass local laws.
Extensive overtime is a common problem in some regions, which can both endanger employees’ health and safety as well as impair productivity.
However, the awareness is growing, and more companies are starting to see their employees as a valuable resource, Ausra says: “The mindset is slowly changing, and we see how more suppliers are starting to care for their employees. For example, some are encouraging them to bring their families along. Others have built basketball courts and started sports tournaments or arranged excursions for their workers.”
It’s key that companies such as Axis nurture long-term relations and support their suppliers, distributors and partners in this area. In the end, it will benefit everyone
The culture makes the difference
What it really comes down to, both for Axis and the company’s partners, is building a solid foundation, where the company culture is key.
“I believe that our employees are proud to work for Axis and that they revere our company values and our high ambitions,” Louise notes. “It really doesn’t matter what Axis employee you meet, and where they are located in the world, there’s a common humility and respect.”
“There’s a human perspective, and this is something that we want to spread throughout the value chain,” she continues. “It’s key that companies such as Axis nurture long-term relations and support their suppliers, distributors and partners when it comes to social responsibility. In the end, it will benefit everyone.”