Social responsibility

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A safe environment for our employees and neighbors at all locations is a first priority for Exel Composites.

Exel Composites has an important social role as a local employer and supporter of regional vitality.

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 2019-2022 strategy cycle, human resources continues to focus 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.

Exel Composites’ manufacturing units are mostly located in small towns, and therefore the company has an important social role as a local employer and supporter of regional vitality. The company cooperates with local universities and chambers of commerce, among others, to increase awareness of Exel as a company and an 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. In 2019, Exel continued its cooperation with universities, research institutes and technology centers in Finland, Belgium, China, Italy, UK and Austria. The construction of the new manufacturing site in Kapfenberg, Austria, which was initiated in 2019, is an important investment and opportunity also for the local community.

As part of the annual Performance Development Review (PDR) process, employees together with their manager identify areas of their professional development. In addition to the regular PDR-discussions across the Group, the process was developed in 2019 and optimized for different employee levels while considering local differences. For example in Finland a lighter variant of the process for the blue collars was tested and implemented. With the results in mind the process was adapted and implemented also in North America. The development continues into 2020.

In addition to individual trainings for professional development, Group-wide trainings continued to educate functional teams on different topics of relevance to them. In 2019, these included for example trainings on the mechanics of composites materials particularly for the R&D teams, sales management and customer service workshops for sales teams, as well as management and leadership trainings for Group and local management. Trainings and good on-boarding processes to new employees play a key role also in employee retention. In 2019, initiatives to improve the on-boarding process as well as employee training and retention were in particular focus in Finland, North America, Belgium and the UK.

A project to upgrade the current Group-wide intranet was initiated at the end of 2019 to provide a modern platform for the Group’s internal communication. The new intranet will be launched in 2020. The intranet is part of a wider branding project that gives a facelift to the Exel brand and visual identity.

On 31 December 2019, Exel Composites employed 648 (675) people, of whom 229 (238) in Finland and 419 (437) in other countries. The average number of employees during the financial year was 660 (647).

Employee related KPI’s

2019 2018 2017
Number of employees, on average 660 647 532
Number of employees, end of period 648 675 568
Employee’s age, average 43 44 44
Employees with permanent contract, % 98.8 97.1 95.1
Employees with temporary contract, % 1.2 2.9 4.9
Number of years at Exel, average 8.0 8.8 9.4
Employee turnover, % 25.6 20.4 14.9
Male / Female 80.0 / 20.0 78.0 / 22.0 77 / 23.0
Top management (Board of Directors, Group Management team), male / female, % 76.9 / 23.1 83.3 /16.7 63.3  / 36.7

Health and safety

A safe environment for our employees and neighbors at all locations is a first priority for Exel Composites. The 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. It is important for Exel that health and safety issues are taken care of together with the employees, monitored and developed.

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 ISO 45001 standard. 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.

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.

Reducing lost time injuries (LTI) was in 2019, as in the past years, a particular focus area when it comes to health and safety. LTI is one of the main key performance indicators used for monitoring the operations of Exel and every LTI is inspected. They are reported to the top management as well as 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. Internal LTI targets are always set to be challenging and the accident rate has improved significantly in 2019 and year on year. For example at the end of 2019 the Runcorn unit in the United Kingdom celebrated over 365 days without a LTI incident. The unit collected and analyzed data regarding all incidents since 2014 and, based on the results, several improvements were implemented. Cuts, for example, which represented a third of the incidents and were predominately caused by steel drums, have been reduced considerably by purchasing a crusher whereby the drums could be compeletely eliminated from the process.

In potential accident situations, immediate corrective and protective actions are always done in cooperation with local authorities to minimize harm or danger to the environment or people. Incidents and near-miss situations are always investigated in order to improve the processes and train the employees to recognize and prevent risk situations. A report on the incident and the corrective actions taken are also shared with the other Group production facilities to prevent similar from happening elsewhere.

Monitoring air quality and VOC emissions in all sites is an important part of health and safety. 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 2019 no increased levels were found that would have required actions.

Communication about safety play an important role in minimizing the risk of accidents at Exel Composites. In 2019 Exel continued with regular safety awareness training for all employees across all units. Topics that are covered in these trainings included fire drills, fire extinguishing, monitoring of breathing air quality, first aid, evacuation, working with dangerous chemicals and communication in accident situations. All new employees are trained on the first day as part of their on-boarding process. 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 with chemical resistant gloves, ear and eye protection, as well as respiratory protection as necessary, is regularly inspected and replaced.

In 2019, monthly safety audits, daily safety patrols as well as regular internal and external safety inspections at the facilities were carried out across the Group’s production units. All local Health & Safety Committees continued their active work with safety topics, preventive wellness and employee wellbeing. Improving health and safety is a continued priority and in 2019 improvements were made, for example through investments in equipment that improve safety, better cleanliness and order in production areas, improved lighting, more safety instructions, etc.

Safety KPI’s

2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Lost time injuries, LTI* 10.8 16.9 20.1 31.3 24.6
Reports on unsafe conditions 1,175.0 996.0 890.0 1,063.0 1,220.0
*Number of accidents per million hours worked

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.

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 members of both genders in the Board of Directors of the company. The tasks of the Nomination Board include the annual revision and suggestion of 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 the 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 and by regular group management members’ visits and reviews.

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. These suppliers and manufacturers are systematically audited also by several other customers than Exel, as well as other stakeholders. 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.

Exel Composites has a Supplier Code of Conduct that was originally introduced in 2018 with the purpose 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. During 2019, the Supplier Code of Conduct was updated. All current suppliers and service providers have received a copy of the Supplier Code of Conduct and it is also a standard attachment to all new contracts. The Supplier Code of Conduct is available at the company’s website

Exel Composites conducts supplier audits primarily through factory visits where an initial self-assessment is verified. The audit topics include human rights, employee health and safety, monitoring of dangerous particles, among other. 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 2019, a total of five key suppliers were audited on a global level resulting in some minor feedback items to be followed up.

There were no reported human rights violations in Exel’s own operations nor within the company’s supply chain in 2019.