2.1 Introduction

This Supplier Code of Conduct explains what Essity expects from you as an Essity supplier with regards to human rights, business practices, employee relations, health and safety and other topics related to sustainable and responsible business practices. It forms the foundation of Essity’s Sustainable Sourcing program and defines what customers, consumers, investors, and other stakeholders can expect from Essity. Choosing responsible business partners is important to us. We will work together with our suppliers to make improvements with respect to social and ethical performance.

2.2 Background

Essity is a member of the United Nations Global Compact, which consists of 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labor standards, the environment and anti-corruption. The Essity requirements are mainly based on internationally agreed standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO Core Conventions, but also on national legislation.

2.3 Responsible sourcing

All our business partners, including suppliers, distributors, consultants and independent contractors are expected to adopt and comply with the ethical business standards and values set out in this Supplier Standard, and to actively communicate such standards when dealing with their own (sub-)suppliers. Suppliers must have ethical and responsible sourcing practices in place and source only from companies that satisfy the requirements of this Supplier Standard. Preferably, suppliers should work with social responsibility topics in compliance with the guidelines set out in ISO 26000. Also, suppliers shall be aware of all sites and companies involved in their production and supply chain, and upon request should be able to provide Essity with adequate details of the supply chain for the goods supplied to Essity.

2.4 Ethical business practices

2.4.1 Integrity

Essity suppliers shall conduct their business in a professional and independent manner at all times, and in accordance with standards set forth in all applicable international and national laws and regulations while recognizing that Essity’s requirements may sometimes exceed those standards. At minimum, suppliers must act with integrity, honesty and fairness in all aspects of their business.

2.4.2 Fair Competition

Suppliers and all persons acting on their behalf shall comply with national and supranational antitrust and competition laws. They shall not enter directly or indirectly into any illegal agreements with their competitors nor exchange sensitive information, e.g. regarding markets, customers, strategies, prices and the like. All suppliers and all persons acting on their behalf shall participate in public tenders and private sector bidding procedures by strictly following the applicable laws and regulations. 

2.4.3 Conflicts of Interest

Suppliers shall inform Essity if any Essity employee has an interest in the supplier’s business which might cause a conflict of interest. Suppliers and persons acting on their behalf must avoid conflicts of interest with respect to their private activities, entities in which they, their close relatives or associates have an interest, their business activities with other parties and their part in the business relationship with Essity. Supplier shall inform Essity about existing conflicts of interest as soon as it becomes aware of such conflicts.

2.4.4 Anti-Corruption and Bribery

Supplier and all persons acting on their behalf shall comply with all applicable anti-corruption laws while conducting business with Essity. Bribery and any other form of corrupt business practice are strictly prohibited. The direct or indirect offer, granting or acceptance of illegitimate benefits to generate, maintain or accelerate business is unacceptable. Suppliers must ensure that no such benefits are exchanged in the course of their business. 

Suppliers shall conduct appropriate risk-based due diligence prior to engaging any sub-supplier to ensure that such third parties comply with all applicable anti-corruption laws.

2.4.5 Gifts and entertainment

Supplier must not provide any gift, meal or entertainment to an Essity employee that might influence, or appear to influence, an Essity employee’s decision in relation to Essity’s business with the supplier. Essity representatives are not allowed to accept gifts or hospitality if this may influence or appear to influence a business decision. Essity employees shall always pay for their own travel and accommodation, e.g. when visiting suppliers or attending conferences.

2.4.6 Accurate books and records and tax compliance

Keeping accurate books and records as well as declaring truthfully all required taxes and duties is an indispensable part of running a lawful and transparent business in a sustainable way. Essity expects its suppliers to act with the highest degree of diligence in this respect.

2.4.7 Data protection

Supplier shall comply with all applicable data protection laws in collecting, processing, storing or otherwise handling personal data of any individuals, including, without limitation, their own employees and employees of their customers, suppliers and business partners.

2.4.8 Duty to report

Supplier must report to their Essity representatives any suspicions of a material breach of any of Supplier’s obligation under this Supplier Code of Conduct section including any breach by Supplier’s sub-suppliers.

2.5 Occupational health and safety

Suppliers must take the necessary steps to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for all their employees. As part of this effort, Supplier must have in place a documented Health and Safety Management System providing for continuous monitoring and improvement of the working environment. The preferred standard is the OHSAS 18001 certification. supplier must also have a senior manager within its organization who is directly responsible for Health and Safety. All suppliers are required to provide relevant information to enable Essity to fulfil its obligations regarding occupational health and safety.

2.6 Fair labor practices and free association and collective bargaining

Essity expects its suppliers will treat their employees and all persons acting on their behalf with the highest ethical standards. Supplier must adhere to international and national conventions and laws in the area of fundamental rights, including, but not limited to, non-discrimination, freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, protection of children and mothers and the right to form works’ councils. Furthermore, Essity suppliers are not allowed to use or threaten to use corporal punishment or other forms of abuse.

If required by local law, all employees of an Essity supplier must have an employment contract. Suppliers’ working hours shall comply with national laws and local industry standards, and wages and other benefits provided by supplier must be fair and at least equal to the minimum relevant legal and industry standards.

2.7 Child labor and forced labor

Suppliers shall take measures to ensure they do not engage in or support the use of forced or bonded labor. This includes all forms of human trafficking and working against one’s own will or choice. No employee shall be required to lodge deposits or identity papers when commencing employment. If supplier uses a staffing recruiter or agency, in no event shall workers be charged fees or expenses related to their recruitment. Suppliers should also work actively to prevent all forms of child labor or exploitation in their sphere of influence. They shall always strictly follow legal requirements as well as ILO convention No. 138 on the minimum age for work.

2.8 Discrimination

Essity suppliers are expected to adopt and enforce policies which effectively prohibit discrimination or harassment on the grounds of gender, marital or parental status, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, religious belief, political affiliation, age, disability, or of membership in a trade union or employee organization.

2.9 Grievance mechanisms

Essity expects its suppliers will have in place effective grievance channels through which employees can report complaints and grievances about their working conditions without fear of retaliation.

2.10 Respect for the environment

At all times, Essity suppliers are expected to act in an environmentally responsible manner, and to respect applicable legislation. Essity requires its suppliers to make continuous improvements in environmental protection and to minimize the environmental impact and pollution generated by their activities.

2.11 Community relations

Essity encourages suppliers to be a positive influence within and act with respect for the communities in which they operate.

2.12 Supplier Diversity

Essity values relationships with a broad spectrum of suppliers and seeks to extend its Supplier Diversity program, as in effect from time to time. This includes such groups as certified minority-owned businesses, certified woman-owned businesses and veteran-owned and service disabled veteran-owned businesses.

2.13 Sedex membership

Upon Essity’s request, suppliers shall become a member at their own cost and share their social and ethical status via the online Sedex (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) platform or such other platform as Essity may designate. The Sedex system includes a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) and a risk assessment tool, that will be used as input in Essity’s review of the supplier’s social and ethical status. 

2.14 Deviation from Supplier Code of Conduct 

If a supplier or any of its own (sub-)suppliers fails to comply with the requirements set forth in this Supplier Code of Conduct, the supplier must take appropriate action to remedy the breach and prevent a recurrence of such breach in the future. Essity reserves the right to terminate the business relationship with any supplier who deviates persistently from or breaches this Supplier Code of Conduct in a material way.