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Case study: How Tallink promotes human rights and workplace diversity

Tallink is the largest ferry operator in the Baltic Sea region, providing its services on various routes between Finland and Sweden, Estonia and Finland, Estonia and Sweden, and Latvia and Sweden, with a fleet of 16 vessels that includes cruise ferries, high-speed ro-pax ferries and ro-ro cargo vessels. Tallink is firmly committed to a supportive work environment where employees have the opportunity to reach their potential  Tweet This!, and to creating a respectful workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination of any kind.

This case study is based on the 2016 Yearbook by Tallink published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Ranked as one of the most preferable employers in Estonia, Tallink works with and for people, with the responsibility to offer safety, security and excellent conditions both from a service as well as employment point of view being a top priority. In order to promote human rights and workplace diversity Tallink took action to:

  • promote labour-management relations
  • be an equal opportunities employer
  • provide human rights training for security personnel

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2016 Yearbook Tallink identified a range of material issues, such as onboard safety and emergency planning, customer satisfaction, occupational health and safety, waste, chemicals and wastewater management, compliance and fair business. Among these, promoting human rights and workplace diversity stands out as a key material issue for Tallink.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process s of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Tallink engages with:   

Stakeholder Group
Employees
Customers
Shareholders
Suppliers
Partners
Governmental institutions
Educational organisations
Community
NGOs
Media

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Tallink conducted an online survey among internal and external stakeholders, and also organised a stakeholder symposium.

What actions were taken by Tallink to promote human rights and workplace diversity?

In its 2016 Yearbook Tallink reports that it took the following actions for promoting human rights and workplace diversity:

  • Promoting labour-management relations
  • Tallink’s management often reaches out to employees to have a dialogue with the employees and to secure a good information flow necessary for sustainable operations. There are regular meetings and larger events organised, and the management participates in the free time activities organised for the Group`s employees, several times per year. All employees have the right to belong to trade unions, and the percentage of total employees covered by collective bargaining agreements is close to 80%. There is also no evidence of the right to exercise the freedom of association and collective bargaining being violated, or at significant risk. The minimum notice periods regarding operational changes are determined by the Group`s responsibilities towards current and potential shareholders, as significant operational changes must be reported via stock exchange to all stakeholders at the same time, to diminish the risk of illegal transactions in the stock exchange. Still, the conditions of any significant changes in the employees’ workplace and/or conditions are handled according to the local and international legislation, and trade union agreements.
  • Being an equal opportunities employer
  • Tallink is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All people can apply for a job or a promotion in the company, set aside the regulatory specifics related to safety matters. Salaries are determined by the local labour market developments and Tallink follows the equal and leading market position dependant to the availability and skills of vacant employees. The salaries of ships and hotel employees are subject to collective agreements with the trade unions, and there are no differences between the salaries of different genders – the salary rates are connected to the concrete position and responsibilities. Accordingly, in 2016 there were no reports on discrimination by gender, age, race, or other such characteristics.
  • Providing human rights training for security personnel
  • Tallink’s regular, annual training for all security personnel also includes, by default, training on human rights topics. Without passing it, it is not possible to be employed on board of Tallink’s Additionally, every year, security personnel has to go through renewed training.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 402-1 Minimum notice periods regarding operational changes

2) Disclosure 407-1 Operations and suppliers in which the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining may be at risk

3) Disclosure 410-1 Security personnel trained in human rights policies or procedures

 

Disclosure 402-1 Minimum notice periods regarding operational changes corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Labor/management relations

Disclosure 407-1 Operations and suppliers in which the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining may be at risk corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Freedom of association and collective bargaining

Disclosure 410-1 Security personnel trained in human rights policies or procedures corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Business theme: Security

 

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SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

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References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Tallink, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning.  If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

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