Business ethics is being discussed a lot within society. Unfortunately, the discussion often only becomes active in the wake of misconduct – after the situation has already become serious. When the events are investigated, an unhealthy organisational culture, where issues are not addressed, is often found in the background: “this is how things have always been done here” or “everyone knows but no-one does anything about it”. We decided to take a different approach and act in advance.
In 2019, we updated Metsä Group’s Code of Conduct and organised a wide online and classroom training programme. However, we wanted to dive even deeper and understand how the personnel genuinely feel that the Code of Conduct is being implemented in the everyday work. The ethics barometer was developed for this purpose, something that has rarely been seen before in Finnish business life.
The purpose of the ethics barometer is to provide a clear picture on how ethically people act at work, what we are good at and where there is still room for improvement. In other words, what problems have employees noticed, how have they been addressed, or have they been addressed at all? We weren’t afraid to ask direct questions and in turn we got direct answers.
More than 6,000 Metsä Group employees from around the world responded to the survey. Based on the results, awareness on business ethics is at a very good level, employees find ethics important and, what is most pleasing to hear, people behave ethically. The results clearly indicate that the investments over the past few years in personnel training, tone from the top in communication and the importance of ethical considerations in difficult situations have paid off. All in all, the results were very good, but far from perfect.
Based on the results, the clearest development potential can be found in the various areas of human resources management, equal treatment and creating a culture where people have the courage to report unethical behaviour and where problems are also addressed. Everyone should occasionally stop and consider the impact of their own behaviour in the workplace. What kind of an example am I setting, how do I treat my colleagues and which factors, often unconsciously, affect my decision-making? How do I react when problems are reported to me?
Assessing your own way to act is particularly important for those in managerial positions. However, for not to leave the matter to everyone’s own hands, we will continue to invest in training on ethics and other important key themes, such as equality.
Our ethics journey will continue. The investments over the past few years give a strong message that the business ethics has been genuinely introduced to the core of our way of working. However, promoting a culture of doing the right thing and ensuring ethical decision-making will always be a work in progress. What is considered acceptable now may not be so in a few years’ time. Because of this, every manager should know the requirements in their area of responsibility and pay close attention to the views of the personnel and other stakeholders.
It is clear that the world is changing, and Metsä with it. In this, too, we want to be a forerunner.
Responsible corporate culture, which the ethics barometer measures, is one of Metsä Group’s strategic sustainability objectives for 2030. Read more about the ethics barometer and its results in Metsä Group’s press release.