Code of conduct
The RS Group Code of Conduct, 'Our Standards', sets out the standards of behaviour to which we must all work. It provides guidelines to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct and behaviour in our business practice.
Annually, every senior leader and people manager globally is required to review and sign up to the Code of Conduct and to have management briefings with their teams. Additionally, we have Group Minimum Standards, which set out the Group compliance policies and governance requirements that apply to all entities, functions and business units within the RS Group.
The Code of Conduct is set out below in one language.
UN Global Compact
In 2020/21, we became signatories of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact confirming our commitment to human rights, business ethics and our support of the UN SDGs. The UN Global Compact is the voluntary initiative to encourage businesses and firms worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies and to report on their implementation.
In support of UN Global Compact Principle Nine, we contribute to environmental sustainability through the products we supply that help our environmental performance and through the proactive management of our own operations.
Diversity and inclusion
Gender pay gap report
RS Group is a global business with employees, customers and suppliers all over the world. We believe that embracing and celebrating diversity and inclusion is fundamental to our success.
We want to ensure we have the right people to deliver our strategy and this means recruiting the best, harnessing talent, supporting innovation, and encouraging a range of different views and perspectives. By embracing difference our unique combination of views and experience will mean we can better understand and serve the diverse range of needs, thoughts and backgrounds of our customers and suppliers.
We are putting the building of a more diverse and inclusive culture at the very heart of our strategic vision of becoming first choice. We believe that becoming first choice for all our people – whoever and wherever they are – is fundamental to meeting our strategic goals and underpins all of our ways of working. Embracing diversity and inclusion is therefore not just about doing the right thing: it is absolutely key to our success.
The purpose of our Diversity and Inclusion Policy is to:
- attract, develop, motivate and retain a diverse workforce; and
- develop a culture where people feel able to give their best; where their views, opinions and talents are respected, whoever and wherever they are.
This policy applies to the Group Board, the Executive Committee, Senior Leadership Team, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee and all employees (including prospective employees) and contractors.
This policy applies globally and is intended to complement local statutory provisions to ensure the promotion of diversity and inclusion. We are committed to compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and codes of practice in the markets where we operate. This policy is not intended to prevail over local laws, regulations and codes of practice; if this policy is in conflict, local legislation should be adhered to.
We are committed to ensuring that existing and prospective employees are treated fairly and with respect in an environment that is free from any form of discrimination. We will ensure that:
- All employment, including recruitment, promotion, reward, working conditions, and performance management related policies, practices and procedures are applied impartially, fairly and objectively;
- We have equality of opportunity for all, and we will provide employees with the opportunity to develop and realise their full potential; and
- Respect is a right – we will inspire trust through honesty and openness.
We define diversity as the way an individual can differ from other individuals. This includes: age, disability, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, ethnicity, nationality, colour, religion or belief, gender or gender reassignment, sexual orientation and educational background. We believe these differences provide us with the diversity of thought, perspective and experience imperative to our success.
Inclusion is about people within our organisation feeling trusted, respected, listened to and fully part of the team, whoever and wherever they are.
A diverse and inclusive organisation is one that actively strives for diversity, and treats everyone fairly regardless of difference, to gain the best from its people and to provide the best experience to its customers and suppliers. This aim sits firmly within our becoming first choice vision and our ways of working.
Characteristics of RS Group as a diverse organisation will therefore be:
- Recognition of diversity as a business critical requirement.
- The wide acceptance and practise of our ways of working through which our diversity and inclusion objectives are integrated.
- An environment where the insights of diverse groups are sought and welcomed; where people are not alienated or sidelined because they don't 'fit' into a set of cultural norms.
- An innovative culture where ideas are born from differences in perspective and experience.
- A climate where people feel that their background and lifestyle do not affect perceptions of them as a professional, or affect their opportunities for development and promotion.
- Flexible working practices being available where appropriate, as there is an appreciation that people can successfully deliver their objectives by working different hours and in different patterns.
- The diversity of our workforce being visible at every level of the organisation and in every business area.
Equal employment opportunity
At RS Group, we want to ensure we have the right talent to execute our strategy and this means recruiting the best and developing them, supporting innovation, and encouraging a range of different views and perspectives. By embracing diversity, we will be better positioned to innovate, understand and serve the different range of issues and needs of our customers and suppliers across the globe.
We treat existing and prospective employees fairly and with respect, in an environment that is free from any form of discrimination. We have equality of opportunity for all and we provide employees with the ability to develop and realise their full potential. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination on the basis of age, disability, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender or non-conforming and fluid gender identification, sexual orientation, educational background, or any other status specified by applicable local law or regulation.
In line with our Code of Conduct, every employee is accountable for reading and following the policies included; we treat misconduct very seriously and individuals may be subject to disciplinary action.
We are committed to attracting, retaining and motivating our people. We aim to have a Flexible Working Policy, specific to each market, which underpins the value that we place on our teams. We provide equal opportunities to our people and, by supporting their wellbeing through flexible working practices, can raise morale, reduce absenteeism and improve the retention of staff.
We aim to offer our people the choice to take a career break, which is unpaid time off work, for reasons which may vary by market but can include:
- Pursue a course or full-time study
- Undertake an extended period of travelling
- Accompany a partner on an overseas assignment
- To meet caring responsibilities
We also have several family friendly policies that support our people during different phases in life and aim to aid the balance between work and personal commitments. We believe these policies are beneficial in terms of offering equal opportunities, raising morale, reducing absenteeism, and improving staff retention. We offer policies following local market legislation across various areas including:
- Maternity and paternity leave
- Adoption leave
- Parental and shared parental leave
- IVF and surrogacy
- Emergency care of dependents
At RS Group, we encourage all our employees to develop and manage their own careers. We do this by providing learning and development opportunities and training. We offer over 15,000 online courses on a wide variety of topics through LinkedIn Learning, available to all employees globally across seven languages. We also have a global learning and development programme to help people managers across the Group do the best job they possibly can. Management Matters is available to all our people managers with the aim of building an international community where people support each other and take responsibility for their own continuous learning and development using a wealth of resources at their disposal.
At RS Group, our reward policy ensures base pay levels are set competitively to both attract and retain the talent we need, whilst our bonus plans provide additional reward for the achievement of key business goals. We review salaries annually considering business performance, local pay and market conditions, and salary levels for similar roles in comparable companies. We provide employees with the opportunity to take part in all employee share plans in many of our markets, increasing share ownership and a sense of belonging across the workforce.
Modern Slavery Act
Modern Slavery Act Transparency Statement
RS Group is a global omni-channel provider of product and service solutions for designers, builders and maintainers of industrial equipment and operations, we offer over 650,000 products sourced from a large number of suppliers located across the world. With over a million customers we operate in 80 countries delivering over 50,000 parcels daily. The Group has over 7,600 employees and more than 2,500 suppliers and third-party providers all of whom support an extensive and complex global supply chain.
Our Group Code of Conduct sets out the high ethical standards of behaviour to which we all work. We will not allow any form of slavery or human trafficking to take place in any part of our business. We will not use child labour (in line with the ILO Minimum Age Convention), nor will we use forced labour. All senior leaders and people managers across our Group were required to read and confirm their acceptance of the Code of Conduct, and ensure that all employees in their teams accept the Code of Conduct, during the financial year ended 31 March 2023. In addition we have included specific Modern Slavery awareness content into our mandatory Group Code of Conduct training which was directly extended beyond all senior leaders and people managers to include the majority of our employees. We also use a risk-based approach to target areas of the business for further compliance training; this has included RS PRO who have recently received additional Modern Slavery training.
Our policy is to not engage with organisations which use child labour or forced labour. We also have a broader set of ethical standards for suppliers, and our policy is to only source products and services from those that meet, or are willing to take action to meet, those standards. This is made clear to all our employees through our Group Code of Conduct and to our suppliers through our Ethical Sourcing Policy. The latter has been implemented within RS PRO, with all APAC RS PRO suppliers having signed and returned it; we are continuing to roll this out more widely in our supply chain, with all new suppliers required to sign it.
Supplier code of conduct
RS Group plc is committed to achieving the highest ethical and legal standards across its Group companies and supply chain. As part of this commitment we seek to extend these standards to our suppliers and other business partners. The Group’s Ethical Trading Policy can be found in the document below which sets out our minimum requirements. This policy is intended to ensure that RS Group sources products in an ethical and consistent manner while working with suppliers to improve their social and environmental practices.
We continue to work with our suppliers to not only to meet these minimum requirements but also continuously improve in line with industry best practice. Our approach is supported by the Group Board and leaders across our business. We maintain a central Group framework to identify material risks in our supply chain, allowing us to focus our attention and resources based on risk. We communicate our requirements and audit supplier performance in the areas of human rights, corruption, legal compliance and product standards in line with this risk-based approach.
Compliance and quality
At RS Group, we recognise the world of compliance is continuously evolving. Expanding regulations, tough enforcement and reputational risk are all board-level concerns and the arguments for having a robust compliance approach have never been stronger. Our customers and suppliers recognise this and are increasingly asking questions about the compliance approach we adopt.
RS Group supports the efforts of human rights organisations to end violence and atrocities in Central Africa (the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and nine adjoining countries: Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda). We are therefore committed to ethical practices and seek to keep our supply chain and products free from conflict minerals. We require suppliers to have due diligence processes in place to identify and verify the source of conflict minerals contained in their products. We look to suppliers to advise the conflict mineral status of products and welcome dialogue from customers on areas of their conflict minerals compliance that we may be able to support.
EU RoHS Directive
We monitor legislation that will impact the electronics industry and, in 2005, were one of the first companies to be awarded the BSI "RoHS Trusted" kitemark. We continually review our products supported with regular independent audits from BSI. On the RS website we publish the RoHS status of products, based on information provided by our manufacturing partners. There are over half a million products flagged as RoHS compliant, with RoHS certification available to download.
UK RoHS Directive
As of the 31 December 2020 with the ending of the transition period the UK left the EU. As a result, on 1 January 2021, new rules came in to effect. We are prepared for the additional responsivities the new UK legislation will place upon us, such as UK RoHS (The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012) and the respective BS standards. As with the EU RoHS Directive we are actively monitoring our products to ensure the right communications reach our customers.
EU REACH Regulation
We support the objectives of the EU REACH Regulations and offer similar regimes that exist and are developing around the world. The effects of REACH and the obligations arising for industry will continue to develop over many years. We welcome dialogue with customers on areas of compliance that we may be able to support. Areas of interest typically include the following:
- Continuity of supply - we maintain an active dialogue with suppliers to minimise disruption to the supply of any products affected by REACH
- Substances of Very High Concerns (SVHCs) - we will inform customers of the presence of SVHCs if present at >0.1% by weight of a product as soon as this information is available from our suppliers
- Registration obligations - as part of the evolving regulations where articles containing substances which fall under the EU REACH criteria and are placed on the EU market are to have their information on these articles submitted to ECHA, as from 5 January 2021
UK REACH Regulation
UK REACH, the UK's independent chemicals regulatory framework, starts on 1 January 2021. As a result, we are working to ensure we are following both the UK REACH and EU REACH requirements. UK REACH aims to maintain EU REACH's aims and principles however, since the UK is outside the EU, additional checks and notifications will be needed. Therefore, as part of UK REACH, we are supporting our suppliers and customers alike to access the UK market.
Allied Electronics & Automation (Allied), a trading brand of RS Group, operates in the Americas. Allied is aware of the conflict mineral reporting obligations under Section 1502 of the U.S. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. However, traditional component distribution activities, such as those performed by Allied, are not within the scope of the bill's reporting requirements. As a distributor of electronic, electrical, mechanical (EEE), and related components, we do not design, manufacture or control the content of any products. Therefore we must rely upon our manufacturer partners to advise us as to the conflict mineral status of the products we distribute.
The policy statements below address current directives we are focused on. Where necessary, it is our goal to make related information available to our customers for the applicable brands and/or products we distribute. Where possible, we will continue to maintain the most current product information needed to support or comply with the environmental directives that we collectively face, and will gladly entertain any comments, suggestions or questions pertaining to our policy statements and information sharing practices.
Environment, Health & Safety
At RS Group, environmental, health and safety (EH&S) management is an integral part of our day-to-day activities. Good EH&S management safeguards not only our employees and others who may be affected by our activities, but also our environment by actively striving to prevent emissions, other sources of pollution and resource depletion. At all times, operations throughout the world will be carried out in such a manner that ensures our workforce is kept safe, looks after each other and, at the same time, helps achieve our Target Zero goal.
We work to proactively keep information safe, including employee, customer and supplier data, and performance and business information. We have an active and ongoing programme of Information Security improvements including conducting regular, proactive tests of our own systems. We publish and regularly review Information Security policies which apply to all of our Group companies and employees and also assess the information security risks of our third party suppliers. We educate and inform our people to ensure they are aware of the risk of not protecting information.
We recognise that our people are the best way to detect and avoid legal and ethical failures. In line with our whistleblower policy, Speak Up, we seek to promote an open and accountable culture where employees can express concerns without fear of victimisation.
We promote the Speak Up facility to our employees through training and awareness campaigns, Our Audit Committee receives aggregated reports on matters raised through these services and monitors their resolution.
Competition law compliance
RS Group competes fairly and vigorously wherever we do business. It is our policy to comply with all competition and anti-trust laws which apply to us.
The Group's Competition Law Compliance Policy is set out in the document below.
RS Group has a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of bribery and corruption. We are committed to conducting our business and affairs so as to ensure that it does not engage in or facilitate any form of bribery.
Our Anti-Bribery Policy is set out in the document below.
The Group’s tax strategy focuses on both maximising opportunities and minimising risk. It is aligned to our business strategy and focused on sustainability and compliance.
Our tax strategy is set out in the document below.