The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires that certain organisations annually state the actions that they have taken to ensure that modern slavery and human trafficking do not occur in their supply chains or in their operations. Handelsbanken’s success is dependent on the confidence of customers, employees, owners, public authorities and other stakeholders that the Group is acting in a responsible manner. This confidence is based on ethical conduct and taking responsibility for financial, social and environmental development that is sustainable in the long term. In order for this confidence to be maintained, there must be transparency in the Group’s sustainability activities. Our work to prevent the occurrence of modern slavery and human trafficking in our supply chains and our Group is part of the Bank’s broader efforts related to sustainability. This statement is part of Handelsbanken’s Sustainability Report*.
Policies, guidelines and actions taken during the 2016 financial year
Handelsbanken supports international initiatives and guidelines that aim to encourage and facilitate sustainable corporate management, e.g. the UN Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Environmental Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), the UN Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI), and the International Labour Organization’s core conventions. In 2016, Handelsbanken’s Board of Directors adopted a policy for sustainability that applies throughout the Handelsbanken Group and encompasses all activities in relation to customers, suppliers and other business partners. The purpose of this policy is to establish the focus for Handelsbanken’s work in the area of sustainability. It concerns Handelsbanken’s approach to material topics, such as human rights and working conditions.
Human rights and working conditions
The Group’s work to protect human rights and employees’ rights builds upon international guidelines. Handelsbanken supports the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Structured work to protect human rights is a natural part of the Group’s operations, and Handelsbanken always strives for improvement in this area.
At Handelsbanken, we work to prevent and limit negative effects on human rights in our own operations, and we take action if such effects arise. In 2016, Handelsbanken continued to work to promote diversity and gender equality, to prevent discrimination, and to ensure good working conditions. Handelsbanken aims to continue to be a secure, attractive employer where all employees enjoy good health and develop.
Internal recruitment and long-term employment are important to Handelsbanken, since our strong corporate culture and values are vital to our success. When Handelsbanken recruits new employees, we seek people who share the Bank’s basic values. We aim to make the most of the employees’ combined competency, and to broaden the recruitment base, in order to become, to an even greater extent, a Bank that reflects the community in which we operate.
Handelsbanken purchases goods and services from many different suppliers. The Group’s purchases can be roughly divided into the following categories: Property and premises, external IT costs, travel and marketing, purchased services, procurement of material, and other expenses. External IT and telecommunications are purchased centrally, while in the other categories purchases are mainly local. The Bank maintains a regular dialogue with suppliers, in which sustainability is a key factor. Among other things, we look into the supplier’s approach to collective agreements, work environment, anti-corruption and environmental impact.
In 2016, the Bank introduced a code of conduct for its major suppliers. The code defines the expectations we have on our suppliers and their sub-contractors. Most of the requirements are based on internationally accepted standards, with the UN Global Compact as the starting point. Among other things, the Bank’s code of conduct requires that suppliers eliminate and combat all forms of human trafficking, modern slavery and compulsory labour, that they are not involved whatsoever in any form of child labour, and that they ensure that they do not violate human rights. Results have been good, and many of the Bank’s major suppliers have signed the code. We see a positive link between the code of conduct and our relationships with suppliers as well as their direct impact on our sustainability.
Principles when granting credit
Sustainability aspects are a vital part of the Bank’s credit policy. The policy states that the Bank’s lending must be responsible and meet high demands for sound ethical standards. When granting credit, Handelsbanken must assess and evaluate the customer’s approach to the principles and agreements supported by the Bank. Ultimately, this can mean Handelsbanken declining to grant credit to companies that do not apply these principles.
In 2016, an internal training course in ethical standards and sustainability was developed, including a section on modern slavery and human trafficking. The training course will be rolled out for all employees in the Group in 2017.
Internal instructions and procedures are in place, so that employees understand how they are to act if they are faced with or suspect a case of modern slavery or human trafficking.
*The statement is an extract from the Sustainability Report.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability
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