How We Manage Integrity
GRI Content: G4-56, G4-57, G4-58, G4-HR2
SGS supports and respects the protection of human rights. We believe in acting ethically and we respect human dignity. As a global company, we operate in countries involved in conflict or which are undergoing political, social or economic instability. We continuously monitor the regions we operate in for signs of elevated risks to human rights. We assess any potential direct or indirect human rights impacts of our own operations while seeking to better understand and discharge our responsibilities under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council.
The SGS Code of Integrity (the ‘Code’) defines the main principles of professional integrity and is an expression of the values that are shared throughout SGS, our various businesses and our affiliates. Specifically, the Code covers the integrity of our services and financial records; the use of company assets and resources; bribery and corruption; political donations and charitable contributions; gifts and entertainment; fair competition; employee relations (including non-discrimination, freedom of association and collective bargaining, child labor and forced labor); environment, health and safety; confidentiality; intellectual property; external communication; insider dealing; and compliance with laws. It is supported by periodic risk assessments, mandatory training, due diligence procedures, performance monitoring and reporting, and whistle-blowing procedures. Referring to it should help anyone acting for SGS to make the correct decisions while carrying out their work.
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All employees complete annual integrity training which is updated each year using real-life case studies drawn from the business. Training is typically conducted face-to-face and in teams by trained managers using scenarios adapted to the employees’ areas of work. Employees must sign the Code at the start of their employment with SGS and are required to complete the integrity e-learning module and quiz within three months of joining, and attend the annual integrity training. 100% of SGS employees have received the annual integrity training in 2015.
The Code encourages employees and customers to report suspected violations, including cases of discrimination, using confidential integrity helplines, or directly to the corporate and local Compliance teams. Cases of suspected discrimination reported via our integrity helplines are monitored by the corporate Compliance team, and data is presented to the Professional Conduct Committee
We recruit employees from across the SGS network onto our Investigation Network and provide training in investigative skills, using guidance based on the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Reporting to the Head of Security, our trained investigators conduct investigations into internal and external incidents, and key learnings from these investigations are fed into the Annual Integrity Training (AIT) program.
(For details of our 2015 performance, including the number of suspected violations reported and investigated, please see Performance on Managing Integrity).
Since launching the revised Code in 2012, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of incidents reported, signaling a higher level of awareness and trust in our reporting mechanism. However, while the volume of reported incidents has risen, we have not detected any increase in the number of proven violations (see Performance section for more information).
The Compliance team in collaboration with HR monitors the proportion of employees completing the Annual Integrity Training (AIT) and signing the Code of Integrity, and the proportion of new employees completing the e-learning module on the Code of Integrity (see Performance section for more information).
SGS has established processes in place for preventing corruption and misconduct across our global network. This includes having clearly defined governance systems, manager and employee training and communication, contractual obligations, effective reporting and monitoring systems, and a responsive network of investigators to review cases of suspected violations of the Code. (See our Performance data on the number of cases of suspected corruption and misconduct reported and investigated in 2015.)
SGS businesses and assets (covering our people, physical assets, equipment, intellectual property and funds) can be exposed to range of security risks. The SGS Corporate Security team is responsible for ensuring that security arrangements are effective in enabling SGS to operate without unacceptable exposure to deliberate harm. Our comprehensive Global Security Standard and Security Guidelines and local security arrangements, including security guarding, focus on protecting our defined asset group while respecting human rights. These are supported by a network of security managers who assist local implementation.
A Security Intelligence Hub (SIHUB) supports the security risk management capability by collating internal and external data on the assets, threats and controls in place, to minimize security incidents and facilitate business sustainability. Weekly reports on global security risks are prepared for the senior management team. Our global security network of trained risk managers is involved in implementing SGS global security standards and guidelines, enabling management to review and audit local security arrangements and risks, and maintain and test business continuity plans using common tools.
The SGS brand is used across the world to validate the quality of goods and materials that are sold or traded. Purchasing an item with an SGS logo or certificate verifies that it has met a required standard. The Corporate Security team is responsible for investigating incidents of fraudulent use of the SGS name and brand, which includes a growing number of counterfeit certificates and inspection reports. We continue to implement practical measures to ensure that integrity is built into every stage of our operational processes in business lines and countries with identified exposure to this type of fraud.
SGS works in partnership with the Anvil Group, an internationally renowned security organization specializing in travel risk management and crisis avoidance, to operate a comprehensive global support system for employees while traveling. Working in partnership with a dedicated travel agency, SGS employees are provided with access to generic and tailored pre-travel advice, advice or immediate assistance while traveling, a manned, multi-lingual 24-hour hotline, and a smartphone app which tracks employee movements while traveling in high risk locations. During 2015, we translated our travel guidelines into French, Spanish and Mandarin. Advice is also available via a dedicated online platform.