At UPM, everyone is responsible for maintaining our integrity and ethical standards. Together, we can strengthen the speak-up culture by encouraging everyone to voice their concerns whenever they notice any misconduct or unethical behaviour.
Following the revision of UPM’s Code of Conduct in 2019 that underlined our speak-up culture, our Report Misconduct channel was renewed accordingly last year. A new service is available globally on our website for both UPM employees and all stakeholders. Operated by an independent external service provider, the service is accessible in over 40 languages, 24/7.
“One of the main technical differences compared to our previous web-based channel is that now concerns can also be reported within the company over the phone. Also, in cases where the user wants to remain anonymous, the tool enables receiving feedback and communicating about the case after the report is filed,” says Markus Skrabb, Chief Compliance Officer at UPM.
According to Skrabb, the new service also establishes efficient procedures for managing the reported cases inside UPM in a way that meets the requirements of the EU Whistleblower
Protection Directive. All reports coming in through the channel are made available to the Head of Internal Audit and the Chief Compliance Officer at UPM. They will then, in most cases, assign responsibility for the next steps to the most appropriate person.
Supporting a speak-up culture
Skrabb emphasises that, first and foremost, UPM wants to promote a culture of raising concerns openly among colleagues and supervisors or reaching out to HR or other assurance functions. However, if that is not possible, the reporting channel offers another way of voicing concerns. Also, if an employee suspects a breach has occurred, it is important not to assume that someone else has already reported it and promptly report any misconduct.
“We want to encourage people to discuss any issues, however small they may seem, so that we can solve them quickly and learn from the process. This helps us in preventing similar incidents from happening again,” Skrabb says.
In previous years, the number of misconduct reports received at UPM has been at the level of around 30 cases annually. In Skrabb’s view, the number should likely be higher in a company of UPM’s size and is expected to rise with the introduction of the new channel. To that end local communication in 17 languages about the new channel was delivered during the year throughout the company.
“It could be considered a good thing that so few reports are received, but we think that it can be that our old channel was not so easy to approach for all employees and we hope that the new channel will fix this,” Skrabb concludes, adding that UPM welcomes all input also from customers and partners on any suspicions of misconduct, as stakeholders play a crucial role in maintaining the UPM standards of integrity.