FOCUS AREA #3
Corporate Citizenship and Sustainable Business Practices
Good governance and ethical business practices are the foundation of Bittium´s operations and a prerequisite of business. It is vital for the company that its customers and other stakeholders trust in Bittium, its product quality, and sustainable development. Bittium aims to be a partner with which dialog is easy and solution-oriented.
Bittium has a wide network of partners and stakeholders. At Bittium, sustainable corporate citizenship means that sustainable business practices are strengthened throughout the value chain, with a positive impact created in society at both the local and global levels. Bittium is a reliable local partner and employer, which engages in active and open dialogue with its stakeholders, acts in accordance with its harmonized operating principles, creates added value for its shareholders, and seeks working methods and solutions that promote sustainable development. Bittium develops its stakeholder relationships in a fair and sustainable manner, with the aim of being transparent in all its communication. In 2022, Bittium participated in several significant research and development projects in the industry and developed its stakeholder dialog through active discussions with investors. Internal and external Compliance policies were strengthened by preparations related to the requirements of the upcoming Whistleblower Directive.
Compliance with Requirements, Good Governance and Anti-corruption Measures
Bittium´s customers operate in multiple industries, in both the public and private sectors. The business environment involves constant changes in legislation and regulation, as well as increasing requirements from the stakeholders concerning sustainable operations and risk management. Bittium is committed to acting in accordance with legislation and regulations and adhering to ethical business practices in all its operations. Bittium has zero tolerance for bribery and corruption. The company aims to ensure ethical business practices and compliance with the corporate culture and increase awareness of sustainable business practices through training. Bittium´s corporate culture is based on openness and commitment to common values. The culture of doing the right thing is deeply ingrained in the work community and promoted by the participative and uncomplicated discussion atmosphere.
The management of Bittium Corporation is governed by the Articles of Association, Finnish law, and Bittium´s governance guidelines. Bittium publishes on an annual basis a corporate governance statement, as required by the Corporate Governance Code for listed companies published by the Securities Market Association. The statements and further information on the company´s governance are available on Bittium´s website.
The key objectives and requirements related to sustainable business practices, good governance, internal control, and risk management are specified in the operating principles and the Internal Control Framework, which includes instructions, guidelines, and principles for internal control and risk management, which are separately approved by the Board of Directors. Compliance processes are in place at every organizational level in order to ensure compliance with the applicable laws, regulations, internal guidelines, ethical values, and sustainable business practices. The company´s management and businesses are responsible for monitoring the legislation and other regulation in their own areas and for communicating any changes to the organization. The members of the Management Group are responsible for arranging appropriate control and compliance training in their units. The company´s Chief Legal Officer coordinates the compliance processes in terms of adequacy and compliance. Bittium´s employees and external stakeholders have access to feedback and reporting channels and a whistleblowing channel for any misconduct they observe. Instructions on the use of such channels have been provided to the employees in Bittium´s intranet and orientation training.
Bittium´s products contain a range of electronic and mechanical components. The sustainability of the purchasing chain is ensured, for instance, through material and component supplier requirements and material assessments. Bittium maintains a database in which it records all the materials and substances contained in components.
The company´s service and product suppliers are required to undertake to ensure sustainable business practices and they must comply with Bittium´s Code of Conduct as well as the Bittium Supplier Requirements. The guidelines are available on Bittium´s website and suppliers are always expected to comply with the latest version of the guidelines. The guidelines include the key policies, practices and requirements for Bittium´s supply chain. The requirements are related, among other things, to business practices, anti-corruption measures, environmental issues, occupational safety and human rights, including material-specific requirements. Compliance with the guidelines was assessed in 2022 through supplier self-evaluation and audits of critical suppliers.
Ensuring that all employees are committed to the principles of sustainable purchasing is an important part of ensuring the sustainability of the supply chain. Sustainable purchasing is a part of Bittium´s mandatory environmental training, which employees complete through self-study.
The vast majority of Bittium´s employees work in countries with progressive human rights legislation. The company´s approach to human rights issues is described in the Bittium Supplier Requirements. During the year, no violations or significant non-conformities related to the use of child labor, forced labor, inappropriate disciplinary action, physical punishment, or health-related discriminatory practices were observed in Bittium´s or its subcontractors´ operations.
Suppliers are audited according to pre-defined criteria. Audits are carried out either as a self-assessment based on the Bittium Supplier Requirements or as an audit conducted by Bittium. In 2022, Bittium focused on auditing its critical manufacturing partners and, where appropriate, component suppliers, which were carried out on-site in supplier premises. Audits carried out as self-assessments continued with new suppliers. As regards international suppliers, local partners have been used for audits. This approach has enabled on-site audits in China regardless of travelling restrictions,. During the year, development measures related to supplier management included among others supplier management tool development and deployment.
In 2021, Bittium started a development project entitled Marimin with the aim of finding more Finnish and European suppliers of critical components. As part of this project, Bittium evaluated a large number of suppliers and investigated its possibilities to transfer the manufacturing of mechanics-related parts to Finland. The project ended in 2022 and yielded concrete results: the new supplier potential that was evaluated and found enabled some of the manufacturing of parts related to mechanics being permanently transferred to Finland and European supply chains.
The global problems with the availability of electronic components resulted in rapid changes in the company´s business environment and significantly weakened the product delivery capability. In order to improve the situation caused by the availability issues, Bittium extended the visibility to material purchases during the year and ordered critical components to secure deliveries in 2023 and 2024. Furthermore, product changes were made in order to enable the use of alternative components in our products. The company will continue to monitor the situation and aims to actively ensure the availability of components needed for product deliveries.
Identifying the Origin of Minerals
Bittium´s products are made using minerals that may also come from countries that violate human rights or cause environmental destruction by mining such minerals. Bittium urges its suppliers to comply with the legislation on conflict minerals and the relevant recommended reporting practices. In this way, it can be ensured that the minerals used in Bittium´s products do not originate from conflict or risk zones.
In practice, the legislation requires sustainable purchasing and transparent supply chains with respect to certain minerals, such as tin, tantalum, wolfram, and gold from conflict areas. These minerals are typically used in household goods and their electronic components, such as mobile devices and computers.
Bittium continuously monitors any non-conformities related to conflict minerals with the help of updated requirements, external databases, and the product information management system. In 2022, Bittium did not receive any reports on suspicions concerning minerals from conflict areas.
Avoiding Counterfeit Materials
Counterfeit materials are any materials whose origin, age, composition, configuration, certification status, or other feature is presented falsely and with misleading markings on the material, packaging, or container.
Bittium is aware of the risks associated with counterfeit materials, both when purchasing materials as ready-to-use components and when using the previously mentioned raw materials. Bittium is committed to conducting the necessary assessments to avoid using counterfeit materials in its products. The purpose of efficient supplier reporting systems is to avoid the use of counterfeit materials. Supplier reporting methods focus on monitoring the various purchase process phases starting from the initial supplier selection. Bittium´s employees are trained to identify counterfeit materials. Regarding counterfeit materials, Bittium´s customers also expect that information is managed in real-time to the maximum extent possible. By combining the data obtained through product information management and material information databases, Bittium is able to ensure for its customers up-to-date and appropriate information management. No counterfeit materials were found in Bittium´s products in 2022.
Objectives and Sustainable Development 2022
Bittium´s objectives for the past year in the focus area of sustainable corporate citizenship and good business practices included topics related to a sustainable supply chain, development of stakeholder cooperation, aspects of sustainable corporate citizenship, and anti-corruption measures. With the update to the sustainability program, the objectives and metrics for the focus area were further specified, with annual lower-level targets set for the various themes. The sustainability program for 20222025 focuses on the monitoring of development in relation to the key objectives for promoting Bittium´s ethical business practices: reducing the risk of unethical business practices, partner and supplier commitment to the Code of Conduct through agreements, preventing corruption and developing an increasingly open dialog with the various stakeholders. The objectives set for 2022 and the related outcomes are described below.
Sustainable Corporate Citizenship
The objectives for sustainable corporate citizenship included measures ranging from the monitoring of legislation and regulations to export control and developing local business operations and supporting schools and educational institutions. The changes that took place in the past year regarding regulations and requirements that are relevant to Bittium´s operations were, above all, related to environmental issues and sustainability.
For Bittium, preparing for the requirements of the EU´s regulation on taxonomy and ecological design, which is part of the EU´s Green Deal promoting a green transition has meant, for example, specifying the operations referred to in the taxonomy in 2021 and 2022 and development work related to product information management. In its current form, the EU taxonomy comprises the most essential economic activities in terms of the significant promotion of the EU´s climate goals. Bittium´s more detailed taxonomy reporting is presented in the Board of Director´s Report 2022. The EU taxonomy is still unfinished and Bittium´s review may change when new taxonomy sets are completed.
Bittium also participated, together with the Finnish energy authority, in the specification work for life cycle standards complying with the Ecodesign regulation, which will be published in the near future.
Export control promotes the sustainable export of Finnish products and technology, while for Bittium´s customers it constitutes an important part of operations. Effective export control is a precondition for successful cooperation with the authorities as well as customers. Bittium is one of the first companies in its size category to incorporate a comprehensive export control system into its management system. Compliance with the international provisions concerning export control and sanctions, which restrict the export of some products and technologies or prohibit it altogether, is a crucial part of a sustainable internationalization. Bittium promotes the sustainable export of Finnish technology by closely monitoring the changing legislation in the various market areas and by complying with legal provisions. At Bittium, the number of export license applications has increased after the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, Bittium continued its development work related to the export control system and procedures, which increased the efficiency of license application processing.
Bittium sees that it is important to support the work of schools and educational institutions and future competence development. In the past year, Bittium was able to continue visits by educational institutions, which it considers important. Two visits to Bittium´s head office in Oulu were arranged.
Developing Stakeholder Cooperation
Bittium´s operations affect multiple stakeholders, with the company´s key stakeholders being shareholders, customers, employees, partners and other suppliers as well as the public sector. Developing even more open dialog between stakeholders supports the development of Bittium´s operations, products and solutions, while it helps find solutions for societal challenges. In the past year, Bittium, among other things, continued its active dialog with investors in the Inderes discussion forum in order to increase and improve its investor communication. The aim is that open and transparent discussion provides answers to the investors´ questions and thus increases the understanding of the company´s business. More information on stakeholder cooperation is provided under ‘Sustainability management´.
For Bittium, year 2022 also involved planning and preparation work related to development projects concerning stakeholder cooperation. In 2023, Bittium will launch a partner program for increasing and strengthening the dialog with partners. Another aim of the partner program is to increase the partners´ commitment so that they are even more integrated into Bittium´s product distribution chain.
Bittium expects that its employees and partners are committed to the company´s anti-corruption policy. Mandatory training on anti-corruption measures is provided for employees as part of the orientation training, all new employees completed the related online self-study module in 2022. The Anti-Corruption training package will be revamped in 2023. No irregularities were observed and no corruption cases were confirmed during the year.
During 2022, Bittium developed its notification channel procedures by establishing its own whistleblowing channel, through which employees and stakeholders outside the company can report their well-founded suspicions about abuses concerning the company´s operations. The channel will be put into use in 2023. The company has precise processes for monitoring and processing notifications, and notifications are investigated urgently and confidentially, protecting the identity of the person making the notification.
Sustainable Supply Chain
In the upcoming years, Bittium aims to have all its partners and suppliers commit to the Code of Conduct through agreements. In order to reach the target, Bittium specified during the year the critical suppliers for health care technology products and services that are subject to specific supplier requirements, among other things, with regard to components and manufacturing. Bittium will continue to review its suppliers and partners in 2023 and the company aims to include the Code of Conduct in new agreements and renewed frame agreements by the end of 2025.
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals by the UN
Bittium´s actions related to sustainable corporate citizenship, good governance, and anti-corruption measures promote, in particular, the sustainable development goals no. 8 (economic growth and employment), no. 12 (responsible consumption), no. 16 (peace and justice) and no. 17 (partnership). Sustainable purchasing, avoiding minerals from conflict areas, and counterfeit materials support goal no. 8 (economic growth and employment). Reporting on the planning, implementation, and results of sustainability actions in the annual sustainability report and the systematic planning of sustainability work and reliable reporting support the objective to ensure the sustainability of consumption and production methods.
Bittium is committed to the prevention of corruption in accordance with the company´s anti-corruption statement and it reports corruption incidents as part of its sustainability reporting, which supports the objective to establish efficient and sustainable institutions. Cooperation and partnerships are an important part of Bittium´s sustainability work, and dialog with customers and partners regarding the developed solutions helps produce appropriate and resource-efficient products that benefit the customers and society while reducing waste.