Social responsibility

Responsible employer
General human resources management

Human resources (HR) are managed through the company’s corporate values, Code of Conduct, the HR policy and the people strategy. For the ongoing strategy cycle, human resources focuses globally on four topics: individual and team performance, increased personal engagement and employee development, increased retention in a competitive talent market and improved attractiveness as an employer.

As most of Exel Composites’ manufacturing units are located in small towns, the company has an important social role as a local employer and supporter of regional vitality. In 2018 Exel continued its cooperation with universities and research institutes in Finland, Belgium, China, Germany and Austria. The purpose is to increase awareness of Exel as a company and attractive employer as well as of the composites industry in general. Employees’ technological knowhow is crucial for Exel Composites’ business and consequently employee engagement as well as recruitment of skilled employees are critical for the company.

At the end of December 2018, Exel Composites employed 675 (568) people, of whom 238 (230) in Finland and 437 (338) in other countries. The average number of employees during the financial year was 647 (532). The number of employees of the Group grew during the financial year with about 90 employees due to the acquisition of DSC.

Employee training and knowledge sharing

As part of the annual Performance Development Review process, employees together with their manager identify areas of their professional development. In 2018 a new Group-wide training about composite technology was launched to develop the know-how especially of the R&D organization. The aim of the training was to share already existing experience and knowledge within the Group. The 3-day training was very well received and it is repeated in 2019 for the sales and marketing organization. Knowledge sharing within the Group is strengthened also through internal job rotations, where employees are encouraged to apply to open positions in other units. To ensure knowledge retention and a smooth transition from leaving employees to their successors, the Group-wide succession planning process was further developed in 2018. The process now covers all Group employees, in addition to senior management.

Implementation of global HR management system

The planning to implement a new, global HR management system was initiated in 2018. The business unit in Finland will be the first to roll out the system in 2019. The system will cover all main HR processes and in its first phase includes employee core data collection that shall be further used to develop processes around performance management as well as training and development.

Occupational health and safety

A safe environment for our employees and neighbors at all locations is a priority for Exel Composites. The occupational health and safety issues are an integral part of responsible management and all the sites of the Group have a safety organization with defined responsibilities. The management of health and safety issues is based on identified risks and guided through the global Quality, Environmental, Health and Safety (QEHS) Policy, the company’s Chemical Policy and the OHSAS 18001 standard. Accident prevention has a very important role in all units. Every lost time injury (LTI) is inspected and reported to top management. LTI is one of the main key performance indicators used for monitoring the operations of Exel. All LTI’s are also reported to other units to ensure the lessons learned are used to prevent accidents elsewhere. Near-miss and unsafe condition reporting is used for accident prevention in all factories. All these are monitored and reviewed in monthly reports for top management.

The Group is continuously vigilant about updates in listings of chemical Substances of Very High Concern, such as in the REACH and RoHS declarations, in order to ensure it stays ahead of regulations. More than half of the employees are in daily contact with dangerous or flammable chemicals in their work. The main occupational health and safety risks relate to the possibility of fire or health problems due to allergies or long-term exposure. The core of Exel Composites' health and safety efforts lies on preventive measures and reporting based on active risk assessments as well as internal and external evaluations.

Monitoring breathing air quality

In 2018 the company continued to monitor the quality of breathing air in all sites. Low concentration is maintained by efficient ventilation and exposure is reduced by the use of appropriate safety gear such as breathing masks. Employees’ health is also monitored through regular medical checks. Styrene exposure is monitored for example by regular mandelic acid tests (urine samples) and necessary measures are taken if any high or increased levels are found. During 2018 no increased levels were found that would have required actions.

Occupational safety: a way of caring

Preventive action and communication about safety play an important role in minimizing the risk of accidents at Exel Composites. For example, in Joensuu, Finland, a new safety leaflet "Think for a moment" was published and distributed to all employees in 2018 and in the Erlanger unit in the USA a so called “Stop to fix”-approach was introduced. In 2018 Exel continued with regular safety training for all employees across all units. These included fire extinguishing, first aid, evacuation as well as working with dangerous chemicals. Fire drills are also an important part of safety training. In 2018 fire drills were organized for example in Finland and in China together with the local fire fighter departments. All employees and visitors alike are provided with safety instructions and appropriate safety gear whenever in factory premises. Also suppliers are given safety information as needed. The employees’ safety gear, including safety shoes, uniform including chemical resistant gloves, ear and eye protection, as well as respiratory protection as necessary, is regularly inspected and replaced.

In 2018 multiple safety audits as well as internal and external safety inspections at the facilities were carried out across the Group’s production units. Internal safety patrols are conducted on a regular monthly or even weekly basis to resolve and minimize risk areas and address any safety observations. As a result, in 2018 altogether hundreds of different improvements were made, including investments in equipment that improve safety, better cleanliness and order in production areas, improved lighting, more safety instructions, etc. Also all local Health & Safety Committees continued during 2018 their work with safety topics, preventive wellness and employee wellbeing.

Exel Composites also cooperates with authorities and experts to improve safety issues in general. In 2018 “A guide for better work” was published by the Finnish Centre for Occupational Safety, which is the result of a project aiming to promote employees’ wellbeing in the chemical industry. Exel participated in this program in 2015-2016, when a group of companies in the chemical industry where referenced to collect information about best practices and experiences concerning development projects to improve employee satisfaction and motivation.

Diversity and non-discrimination

Exel Composites’ corporate values and Code of Conduct state that everybody shall be treated with fairness, respect and dignity in the workplace and beyond by management and fellow employees. The company follows a zero tolerance policy for discrimination. All employees are expected to report any discriminant behavior or other Code of Conduct violations using for example the “Report misconduct”-form, which is available at the company’s website.

Diversity is encouraged and respected in the work place, all recruiting decisions as well as in the composition of the company’s Board of Directors. The shareholders’ Nomination Board follows the company’s principles of diversity in making their proposal to the Annual General Meeting regarding members to Exel Composites’ Board of Directors, paying attention to the members’ expertise, know-how and viewpoint as well as age and gender. The target is to have both genders represented in the Board of Directors of the company. The tasks of the Nomination Board include to annually review and suggest changes, if necessary, to the principles of diversity of the Board of Directors.

Human rights in own operations and supply

Exel Composites’ corporate values and Code of Conduct state that the company supports and respects the protection of human rights in all its operations, including its supply chain, and follows global human and labor rights conventions. No form of forced or child labor is tolerated in the Group nor from any of its business partners or third parties associated with the Group.
The majority of Exel’s own production units are located in countries where risk for human rights violations is generally considered low. The slightly increased risk that is presented in China, where the company has two production units, is mitigated through a dedicated local supply chain organization.

The Group sources components and materials for its manufacturing processes from multiple sources and multiple countries. A majority of the company’s supply chain is composed of large, international manufacturers or their distributors, that often have established processes and high sustainability standards and therefore are considered low risk in relation to human rights violations. All suppliers are chosen with care and on the basis of objective factors such as quality, reliability, delivery and price, in addition to ethical standards and sustainability. The company conducts audits of existing suppliers primarily through factory visits. Audited suppliers are selected based on purchase volume, the criticality of the supplier as well as its location. In case of violations action is taken either to allow time for corrective action or to terminate the relationship.

In 2018 there were no reported human rights violations in Exel’s own operations nor within the company’s supply chain.

Supplier Code of Conduct

In 2018 Exel Composites introduced a Supplier Code of Conduct based on the company’s existing Code of Conduct. This was part of a process initiated during the year to confirm that suppliers comply with Exel’s requirements regarding human rights and other Code of Conduct topics, appropriate legislation and regulations, including chemical safety. The Supplier Code of Conduct was shared with current suppliers and service providers and was also included as attachment to contracts with new suppliers and service providers. The Supplier Code of Conduct is available at the company’s website

Exel Composites Oyj, Vantaa head office, Mäkituvantie 5, FI-01510 Vantaa, Finland