Corporate social responsibility
Relations with customers and suppliers
The Group deals with all of its customers and suppliers on an arm’s length, commercial, basis and applies ethical trading values that make it a disciplinary offence for any employee or director to offer gifts, bribes, or clearly excessive entertainment to customers in order to secure work. Employees and directors are not permitted to accept similar inducements from suppliers. The Group’s ‘whistle-blowing’ policy provides an avenue for detecting any breaches of its ethical trading policy.
Payment terms granted to customers are negotiated according to the amount at risk and the financial strength of the customer concerned. Work is either part billed as the work progresses or is invoiced when the work or service is completed.
Where it is considered to be appropriate and available, long-term supply agreements of between one and three years are sought for paper, ink and other consumables. In some cases the Group’s interests are best served by purchasing goods and services on a spot purchase basis rather than pursuant to a long-term supply agreement. Reports on procurement matters are presented to the Company’s board of directors on a monthly basis. The Group may only be committed to agreements in excess of twelve months’ duration or having an annual value in excess of £2 million with the authority of the board.
Customers have the final decision on which substrate they wish their work to be printed and, indeed, many of the larger book publishers prefer to supply their own paper for use in producing their work.
The Group’s policy for retaining customers is to deliver consistency and reliability of service and quality: no customer is tied in to an agreement that cannot be terminated in the event of under-performance.
The Group is an equal opportunities employer and no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of age, sex, marital status, race, colour, religion or belief.
It is the policy of the Group that individuals with disabilities, whether registered disabled or not, should receive full and fair consideration for all job vacancies for which they are suitable applicants. Employees who become disabled during their working life will be retained in employment wherever possible and will be given help with any necessary rehabilitation and retraining. The Group is prepared to modify procedures or equipment, wherever this is practicable, so that full use can be made of an individual’s ability.
A ‘dignity at work’ policy operates to ensure, so far as is practicable, that the Company and its subsidiaries provide a working environment free from harassment and bullying and in which employees do not behave in a manner which may be offensive to others.
Employees of the Company and its subsidiaries are regularly consulted by local managers and kept informed of matters affecting them and the overall development of the Group.
Details of the Group’s pension schemes are set out in note 26 to the financial statements; all of the schemes are independently managed. Group companies contribute to a number of defined contribution schemes, the principal one of which is the St Ives Defined Contribution Pension Plan, which is available for all eligible employees to join and which was established in 2002 on the closure of the Group’s defined benefits scheme to new membership.
The investments of the defined benefits scheme are managed separately, partly passively and partly actively under the direction of a trustee company (‘the Trustee’). The fund managers of the actively managed portfolios are proscribed from holding any investment in, or lending to, the Group. The number of directors of the Trustee is split equally between member-nominated and Company-nominated Trustee directors, subject to casual vacancies which may arise from time to time.
Those employees who were active members of the defined benefits scheme on 1 September 2009 were each offered an invitation to participate in an alternative defined contribution Group Personal Pension Plan administered by Prudential.
In respect of employment matters, the Group uses statistics of accidents resulting in three days’ or more absence and total number of working days lost from all accidents as key performance indicators of the safety of its employees. In 2011 the total number of accidents at the Group’s sites which resulted in at least three days’ absence each was 17 (2010-14) and the number of days’ work lost from all accidents at work was 230 days (2010 – 386.5). This data relates to the Company’s subsidiaries at 29 July 2011.
Charitable and political donations
The Group’s cash donations to charities were modest during the preceding two years but were increased during 2011 and, following the agreement of the Company to match the Chairman’s contributions, made from foregoing a proportion of his fees, included payments to registered charities nominated by the Chairman. It is the board’s policy otherwise to favour charities serving communities in which the Group operates or to which employees or customers have a particular affinity. The amount allocated to these will be kept under review. No political donations were made in the year and the board has no intention to seek shareholders’ approval to permit the board to do so.
The board attaches considerable importance to maintaining good relationships with shareholders. Effective two-way communication with institutional shareholders and analysts is established through regular presentations, sometimes at production sites, involving the Chief Executive and the Finance Director. Major shareholders are given the opportunity to meet with the senior non-executive director. The board receives an investor relations report at each of its regular meetings. The Annual General Meeting is regarded as an opportunity to communicate directly with shareholders and the chairman of the Audit and of the Remuneration Committees will each be available at the Annual General Meeting to answer shareholders’ questions.
As a company we process information on behalf of a number of our clients. In this instance we are the data processor and not the data owner. Under the Data Protection Act, St Ives has a legal duty to protect any personal information it collects. St Ives does not pass on personal information to any third party or government agency unless the Data Subject gives permission to do so or the law requires or permits it.
To read our Data Subject Rights Information click here.
To download an Access to Personal Information request click here.