Fingrid’s operations have a direct impact on the well-being of Finns. Responsibility is a natural value for us, and responsible business is a strategic choice for us in pursuing our socially significant mission. For us, responsibility and sustainability mean that in securing a reliable supply of electricity for Finns, we are also taking care of people and the environmental impacts of our operations and complying with good governance practices. We also contribute to promoting global sustainability goals. Among the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we promote the goals related to energy, infrastructure and climate action, in particular.
Fingrid’s strategy and its various perspectives are the starting point for our corporate responsibility work. Corporate responsibility is key in implementing our strategy and in our business expertise. By operating responsibly in all areas we can best bring value to our stakeholders and ensure the acceptance of our projects by society.
We manage corporate responsibility as an integrated part of Fingrid’s management system. Corporate responsibility is a systematic, targeted component of our basic operations and annual cycle of management. We have identified the material topics for our business and set targets for them (see section Strategy in this annual report). The Executive Management Group reviewed the materiality analysis as part of the strategy process 2017 and took into account the strong connection between sustainability and strategy and business, its impact on Fingrid’s ability to create value, as well as the requirements of the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) reporting guidelines, which extend throughout the value chain. Corporate responsibility is part of our planning of operations and an integral, strategy-based component when we assess development opportunities and risks and devise measures for the next year. Corporate responsibility risks are part of our risk management.
It is essential for us that responsibility shines through in the daily work of Fingrid employees. We disclose information pertaining to the outcomes and figures related to our integrated and goal-oriented sustainability efforts in the areas of, among other things, employee well-being, occupational safety, environmental impacts and tax footprint, in the section dedicated to each area of responsibility.
Fingrid’s Board of Directors approves the company’s Code of Conduct and monitors the company’s compliance in operating responsibly. The Board is responsible for arranging corporate responsibility management and its integration into business operations. The CEO and the heads of functions are each responsible for corporate responsibility issues within their area of responsibility. Alongside profitability issues, social issues and environmental impacts are taken into account in a well-balanced way in all decision-making and when assessing operations. Corporate responsibility is co-ordinated at the company level by the steering group for Fingrid’s finance and business development perspective, which is headed by the Chief Financial Officer. The steering group is supported by the company’s business development working group, which is composed of development managers. A development manager is appointed to co-ordinate corporate responsibility work.
Every Fingrid employee is committed to working in compliance with our shared values and our Code of Conduct, which is based on the United Nations’ Global Compact initiative and the principles guiding business operations and human rights. Under our Code of Conduct, we are committed to respecting people and human rights. To ensure we understand our impacts on human rights, we have carried out an assessment in compliance with the due diligence process recommended in the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and we updated our action plan during the year under review.
Our managers and the entire work community ensure that behaviour is in line with the Code of Conduct. A confidential whistle-blower system managed by an independent third party is available to employees who suspect a breach of the Code of Conduct. We help new employees assimilate the Code of Conduct through online orientation. In 2017, we reinforced our personnel’s understanding of responsibility in their role and in purchases, in particular. We participated in FIBS Corporate Responsibility Network’s human rights coaching. We achieved an excellent AAA rating in a survey conducted during the year under review, where our personnel assessed the sustainability of our ways of operating.
Responsible procurement practices are impactful in our outsourcing-based business model. Fingrid has joined the United Nations’ Global Compact initiative, and our Code of Conduct is in line with its principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our commitment to this global initiative strengthens the strategic and operational integration of corporate social responsibility in our operating methods and supports the co-operation with agreement partners in promoting sustainable development and corporate responsibility. In our purchases, we require our contractual partners to commit to our responsibility requirements and monitor compliance through a risk-based approach. We are likewise prepared to commit to the corporate responsibility requirements set for Fingrid by our contractual partners.
Grid infrastructure construction and maintenance is subject to competitive bidding, and our work sites around Finland employ competent workforce also from abroad. We ensure that we meet our obligations to investigate and our responsibility when using external workforce. During the year under review, we carried out 13 audits on our work sites to verify compliance with contractor obligations, occupational safety and environmental management. The audits revealed that operations and induction at the work sites is generally on a good level. Improvement areas were typically related to safety planning and documentation. We monitored the progress made in rectifying them in work site meetings. We trained our new maintenance service providers and line clearing entrepreneurs also from the perspective of ensuring responsible business practices. In addition, responsibility was the theme of our service provider event in 2017.
During the year, we established a third-party audit service for our international sourcing operations. Compliance with our responsibility requirements was ensured through a total of 11 supplier audits carried out in Spain, China, Poland, France, Finland, Turkey, Hungary, Russia and Estonia. The audits covered both our direct contractual partners and their suppliers. The most important deviations identified during the audits were related to occupational safety and working hours and monitoring of subcontractor responsibility. We addressed any shortcomings collaboratively according to the action plans and the extent of our influence could be seen as concrete improvements. Our experts observed occupational safety and working conditions also in connection with technical factory tests.
In order to ensure transparency and comparability, we have reported on our corporate responsibility in accordance with the international Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework since 2011. The 2017 reporting follows the Core requirements of the GRI standards. In the Report of the Board of Directors, we also report on non-financial information, although the legislative changes in this area did not entail any obligations for Fingrid. Fingrid also reports its tax footprint in the Annual Report section ‘Corporate finances, financing and risk management’. We do not make any special arrangements to minimise taxes, and dividends are mainly paid to the State of Finland and to Finnish pension insurance and insurance companies. The Social Enterprise Mark granted to Fingrid by the Association for Finnish Work bears testimony to Fingrid’s responsibility in handling its socially important task.
Key events of 2017
Colourful and productive power line right-of-ways
There are a lot of power line right-of-ways in Finland. In addition to municipalities and cities, they cross the lands of tens of thousands of private landowners. The land under the power lines belongs to the landowner, but the transmission system operator has a permanent restricted right to use it.
Fingrid wishes to encourage landowners to utilise power line right-of-ways for the benefit of people and the environment. The diverse power line right-of-ways provide excellent habitats for, for example, game, pollinators or wetland species. Their use as recreational areas and to increase landscape diversity can be further increased. Fingrid offers ideas for various land-use applications in its new idea cards for landowners, which suggest safe and successful solutions for utilising power line right-of-ways. Today, power line right-of-ways in Finland are already used as cycling and skiing paths, nature trails, frisbee golf courses and gardening areas for the public.
During the year under review, Fingrid also started providing financial support for managing power line right-of-ways as traditional environments. Fingrid’s support involves the drawing up of a management plan and a subsidy paid to the manager. Heritage environments are meadows and pastures shaped by traditional agriculture, which have developed an original and rich fauna and flora as a result of grazing and reaping. Heritage landscapes include both built landscapes and heritage biotopes created through reaping and grazing. As a result of the changes taking place in agriculture, these beautiful heritage environments are at risk of disappearing. Power line right-of-ways are today’s meadows, because they are kept open. They are called the new habitats of meadow species. Through active management, power line right-of-ways can be developed into alternative habitats for meadow species.