Social sustainability is more relevant than ever in international business

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Social sustainability is an integral part of global sustainable development. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for social sustainability, for example, in the SDGs Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10) and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16). Businesses have an important role in advancing these goals, for instance, through ensuring decent work, promoting equality, and fighting corruption. At Vaisala, we are committed to socially sustainable business practices, and we are aware that our social sustainability principles come to life only when all our employees and partners understand and commit to acting according to them.

SDG 8 Decent work SDG 10 Reduced inequalities SDG 16 Strong institutions

Social sustainability as part of our everyday work

Our most important social sustainability principles, such as respecting human rights, anti-discrimination, safety at work, and anti-corruption are covered, among other topics, in Vaisala’s Code of Conduct. All Vaisala employees must complete a Code of Conduct training regularly to confirm their commitment to the Code.

We have a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of corruption. Our International Anti-Corruption Policy is included in the Code of Conduct training, and it strictly forbids offering, giving, soliciting, arranging, demanding, or accepting bribes. Also a more specific Anti-Corruption training has been tailored to employees who might face challenging situations in their work. 

Vaisala appreciates diversity in the workplace. We treat all our employees and applicants equally in all recruitment, hiring, training, and development. Equality and fairness are also important elements of Vaisala’s compensation policy. In 2019, we conducted a wage survey in our head office in Finland and found the wage equality between genders to be on an excellent level. Women’s wage was, on average, 100.8% of men’s wage on the same job requirement level, which is a great result.

The health and safety of our employees is of utmost importance, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we have taken measures to ensure the health of our factory personnel and encouraged others to work from home. Our health and safety practices are guided by our ISO 45001 certified occupational health and safety system. We invest in health and safety training and ensure that people working in risk-prone environments or tasks have the necessary qualifications. We also encourage proactive reporting of potential safety hazards around the workplace, so that we can investigate promptly and take corrective actions to prevent injuries.

The global nature of our business is a major factor when discussing our social sustainability. We have business around the globe and strive to conduct responsibly also in challenging operating environments, and we expect the same from all our partners.

Managing a global partner network

We conduct business in almost all countries in the world, and the global operating environment poses various challenges, requirements, and expectations for us. This is why we pay special attention to selecting our business partners, and our partners must comply with our Code of Conduct or Supplier Code of Conduct under all circumstances.

To serve our customers as efficiently as possible, we conduct business through a network of distributors, agents, and resellers in more than 100 countries. Our agreements with these partners typically include strict clauses concerning immediate termination if a partner violates any aspects of our Code of Conduct or International Anti-Corruption Policy.

Our solution offering is based on a wide selection and low volumes, and this special expertise depends on the effective management of hundreds of suppliers. To meet stakeholder expectations, we must have a reliable and responsible supply chain. We set strict requirements for our suppliers and cooperate with them closely over the long term. We also audit and assess our suppliers to check aspects related to quality and sustainability. 

We respect human rights and do not condone violations of human rights or labor laws in any part of our supply chain. In our internal human rights risk assessment, we have identified that the salient human rights risks with the most severe impacts on people lie among those actors in our supply chain that do not have a direct link with Vaisala’s operations. This means our suppliers’ suppliers that go beyond the third tier. These risks are the same as in other electronics manufacturing supply chains, including dangerous working conditions and the use of bonded labor. The human rights risks in our supply chain are mitigated by choosing preferred suppliers carefully and working closely with first-tier suppliers, insisting on policies that go beyond the requirements of local laws and obliging them to ensure that human rights are respected also in their supply chains. We assess the suppliers’ human rights performance and supplier management processes, and if a supplier’s score in the assessment does not meet Vaisala’s requirements, the supplier is expected to implement corrective measures and any weaknesses are addressed in cooperation with the supplier.

Another area where we have identified a high need to understand and manage human rights risks is our global project subcontractor network, where we need to ensure, for example, that our partners follow adequate health and safety standards. Therefore, we have started to give concrete safety instructions and trainings to our subcontractors, in addition to ensuring their commitment to the Supplier Code of Conduct. We also train our managers and workers in sourcing and project business in high-risk areas to identify and manage human rights risks while operating with potential or selected suppliers and subcontractors.

Overall, international business poses challenges that we strive to tackle in all parts of our operations, reaching from our own employees to our supplier network and collaboration with global partners. International collaboration and responsible practices remain the cornerstones of our business, creating benefits to local and global communities.

This is the eighth and last post in our article series about Vaisala’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. You can find the whole article series linked on our UN Sustainable Development Goals page. Vaisala’s multifaceted business is brimming with stories, and in the article series, we have illustrated with concrete examples, how our business is truly linked to the SDGs.


Read more about Vaisala's socially sustainable practices linked to UN SDGs

Green city view

UN Sustainable Development Goals

We have identified the most relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals for Vaisala. By integrating the goals to our strategy work, we can better assess our impacts on sustainable development and develop new business and sustainable business practices.

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