Social responsibility at a cost of millions
"This type of work is nothing new for us. On the contrary, we have been involved in such projects in a quiet way for many years," says Göran Streiffert, Senior Vice President Group HR at Swedish Match.
Today, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an established concept. There is a high degree of awareness within Swedish Match that the Group can make a positive contribution to social development by becoming involved in key social projects. This is the result of internal communications, internal training and the application of increasingly systematized work methods to social responsibility.
Long tradition in Sweden
The Solstickan Foundation, dedicated to helping children and the elderly, is an excellent example of how Swedish Match works continuously in the social-responsibility field in Sweden. The Foundation´s fund was established in 1936, and since then the Group has contributed to its continued survival.
For every box of Solstickan-brand matches and every Soltändare lighter sold, Swedish Match contributes one öre to the fund. This added up to a total of SEK 1,400,000 in 2005. Due to the fact that match sales are not as large today as when the fund was established, the Group also makes additional contributions to the fund.
Since the fund was established, some 10 billion boxes of matches have been sold in Sweden, which means that the Foundation has received nearly SEK 100 M from Swedish Match since its inception, excluding the company´s extra contributions. Other contributors include the Stora Kopparberg Foundation and the Franca & Massimo Rossi Foundation.
Benevolent work in recent years
During 2004, a project was initiated for the purpose of combating HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The project, which is being conducted in cooperation with local aid organizations, the International Council of Swedish Industry, the Swedish Metalworkers´ Association and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), enables people to participate in training programs and receive individual counseling.
In North America, Swedish Match contributes to charitable organizations and through voluntary work. The largest assistance efforts during 2005 were for rebuilding work after the ravages of hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Employees in Swedish Match´s North America Division made individual contributions on condition that the Group gave an equally large amount. The project was conducted in cooperation with a local union.
In the wake of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, the Swedish Match Group made a contribution of SEK 250,000 to the Red Cross. An account was also set up into which the employees themselves could make donations to help victims of the disaster. The Group contributed a matching amount.
"One of the key factors for work in the social-responsibility area is that Swedish Match becomes involved at the local level, meaning that we cooperate with organizations on the spot that are well versed in the country´s society and culture. Employees become personally involved, since they are contributing to something with which they are familiar. It is also vital that the project has strong support among the local population," says Göran Streiffert.
Code of Conduct provides strong platform
Given that socially oriented activities are part of Swedish Match´s strategy and business operations, social responsibility should permeate the entire organization. Work in this area is based on the Group´s Code of Conduct for social and environmental issues. The guidelines in the Code of Conduct apply to all divisions within the Group. Individual business units are at liberty to exceed the principles stated in the Code of Conduct, but must never act in a manner that conflicts with them.
"I work on the assumption that all our employees know how to conduct themselves in different situations and contexts that may range from customer-related issues to policies regarding child labor. And this is also how we wish to be perceived by the world at large," says Göran Streiffert.
Activities and successes in social-responsibility work are followed up and reported to an internal council that is responsible for reviewing the ethical guidelines for the Group´s actions regarding social and environmental issues.
"Swedish Match endeavors to conduct its operations in accordance with sound business ethics and to conscientiously follow existing laws and regulations. We can live up to our social responsibilities by participating in key local projects," concludes Göran Streiffert.