30/09/2020

The principle of continuous improvement also applies to human rights

In this interview, Finnish Minerals Group’s Responsibility Committee discusses the development of industry and human rights.

RESPECT for human rights is a fundamental issue that must be valued, and in the business world, respect for human rights must form a cornerstone of your operations.

These are the types of ideas espoused by the members of the Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors of Finnish Minerals Group when they are asked why human rights are so important. Eeva Ruokonen, Teija Kankaanpää and Ilpo Korhonen are united by their solid industrial background, which is why their thoughts quickly focus on occupational safety, health and working conditions. They think that everyone who works in an industrial site must be able to rely on the promise that they will get home safely.

The starting points of the Committee and Finnish Minerals Group's operational management are clear: they follow the UN principles on human rights as well as the ILO fundamental principles and rights at work.

“We base our activities on the fact that Finnish Minerals Group as a company and group is committed to human rights and that its operations and approach can and will be corrected immediately whenever necessary. We require the same also in cooperation and in subcontracting chains,” says Ruokonen, who serves as the Committee’s chairperson.

Every attitude counts in daily work

Human rights and the basic principles and rights of working life represent a large and complex whole. The scope of this theme is increased by the fact that, in addition to their own operations, each company must also take human rights into account when defining their subcontracting chains.

In the Committee’s view, it is clear that the corporate responsibility includes respect for human rights, which is why it is essential to pay attention to corporate culture. In human rights matters, asking for feedback and providing the channels necessary for hearing this feedback are crucial. The end goal should be that every employee respects everyone’s human rights in their daily work.

"It is the responsibility of the company management to ensure that the approach to human rights is meticulous. This includes conducting risk assessments for activities and minimising any possible risks. When assessing subcontractors, an exemplary culture of occupational safety and good working conditions, for example, can become differentiation factors," notes Ilpo Korhonen.

Supervisory work also plays a vital role in the realisation and implementation of human rights. Each supervisor's own behaviour and willingness to address grievances will draw attention.

“Respecting human rights also includes guaranteeing that every single member of a work community is heard, seen and understood, regardless of their personal backgrounds or duties,” Ruokonen notes.

“The equal treatment must be at the heart of all of our activities,” Kankaanpää concludes.

an integral part of the battery value chain development

The development of a Finnish and European battery value chain is characterised by an ecosystem approach. The battery sector is being developed between various companies, universities and research institutes, and suitable partners are being sought with a broad approach.

Ruokonen regards the human rights perspective as vital when choosing both large business partners and small subcontractors. Values, principles and working methods must be in sync to ensure that collaboration takes human rights into account as well. According to Kankaanpää, it is vital for both the mining industry and the development of the battery value chain to guarantee a safe working environment. Correspondingly, the selection criteria for potential partner companies must place a clear emphasis on these issues as well. 

The members of the Committee agree on that the principle of continuous improvement is compatible with human rights. Even in these matters, one must regularly identify areas for improvement and always strive higher.

 

Further information:
Process for discussing and addressing human rights

 

The mission of Finnish Minerals Group is to responsibly maximise the value of Finnish minerals. We manage the State’s mining industry shareholdings and strive to develop the Finnish value chain of lithium-ion batteries. In addition, we are engaged in long-term technology development of the mining and battery industry. Through our work, we contribute to Europe moving towards electric transport and a more sustainable future. www.mineralsgroup.fi