Principles of corporate responsibility

The general principles of Kesko’s corporate responsibility define the basic economic, social and environmental responsibility promises. Kesko’s commitments to international declarations and conventions are also included in the principles.

This page includes:

Principles and Practice of Socially Responsible Trading guide

General principles of Kesko's corporate responsibility

Kesko's purchasing principles

List of the factories in high-risk countries


General principles of Kesko's corporate responsibility

Kesko's Corporate Management Board has approved the Group's general corporate responsibility principles. These principles define Kesko's key economic, social and environmental promises and related communication principles. 

Corporate responsibility – and behaving responsibly towards all our stakeholders – forms an integral part of Kesko's values, operational strategies, management, and everyday operations. Our goal is to improve customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and our competitiveness and profitability, and promote common, responsible ways of working, manage reputation-related risks effectively, and ensure that Kesko is an attractive employer.

Kesko's responsibility is direct in respect of its own operations, and indirect in respect of the operations of its partners in its procurement and sales chains. Kesko monitors the performance of its operations in these areas using internationally recommended indicators, and reports on its progress openly and comprehensively. Reporting is covered by assurance statements provided by impartial third parties.

The international dimension

As Kesko operates in a number of countries and buys goods from suppliers worldwide, the Group is covered not only by national legislation and agreements, but also by numerous international agreements and recommendations.

These include the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the OECD's Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the International Chamber of Commerce's Business Charter for Sustainable Development, and the ICC's guidelines on bribery and corruption.

Kesko has also committed itself to the UN's Global Compact and the challenges it contains aimed at promoting human rights, people's rights at work, environmental protection, and eliminating corruption.  

Kesko sees maintaining a high level of corporate responsibility as contributing to the Group's competitiveness, and its operating principles exceed legislative and statutory requirements in many areas as a result.

Triple bottom line management

Kesko's approach to corporate responsibility and the indicators it uses to measure its performance here are based on the concept of 'triple bottom line management', in which financial, social, and environmental responsibility are developed in harmony and in parallel. Financial responsibility and good operational performance are essential to the ongoing, long-term development of environmental and social responsibility, which in turn create new opportunities for increasing sales and enhancing profitability.

Financial responsibility

Financial responsibility encompasses good financial management, an efficient use of resources, and delivering a consistent, long-term economic benefit to a broad range of stakeholders.  

A good financial result should be achieved responsibly – through good corporate governance, open communications, and effective stakeholder dialogue, and with due attention given to the requirements of environmental and social responsibility.  

Kesko reviews the economic benefits that it provides from the standpoint of its stakeholders, the markets in which it operates, and the communities that it serves. The wellbeing of the Group's stakeholders in its markets is of prime importance, but as the extent of Kesko's international business expands Kesko will also be more involved in promoting wellbeing and prosperity outside its own markets, particularly in developing countries.  

The products sold by Kesko, regardless of their origin, should always comply with the appropriate standards set for physical, social, and environmental quality, and product safety.

Environmental responsibility

Kesko's most significant direct areas of environmental impact are related to the emissions associated with the generation of the electricity and thermal energy used at its premises, the emissions produced by deliveries, and the waste generated during the storage of the goods it sells.  Indirect impact is linked to the production and packaging of the goods sold in Kesko stores, the use of these goods, and their disposal.

Kesko's aim is to reduce the level of its direct environmental impact in relation to the volume of its operations on a continuous basis. The Group monitors the impact of its environmental measures on its financial result through its environmental accounting.  

 As part of efforts to reduce its indirect environment impact, Kesko promotes the sale of environmentally benign products and participates in public and private-sector R&D projects aimed at encouraging sustainable production and consumption.

Social responsibility

Kesko has a direct social responsibility for the wellbeing of its personnel, and an indirect social responsibility for that of the people employed by companies in its procurement and sales chain.  

In line with its corporate values, Kesko invests in developing the quality of the workplace at Group locations and its management, with the aim of ensuring that personnel value their work and appreciate their employer and are motivated to do their job well.  

In respect of its procurement chain, Kesko aims to ensure that the working conditions of the employees of its suppliers comply with the relevant legislative requirements and the ethical principles observed by Kesko, which are based on numerous international charters in the field. Although this goal cannot be achieved overnight, every positive step forward is one towards a more socially responsible world for all of us.  


Kesko reports on its performance in the area of corporate responsibility to its stakeholders openly and comprehensively, using a variety of internal and external communications tools. The Annual Report, covered by an assurance statement from an impartial assurance body, forms the foundation of this communications effort.  

Kesko participates actively in the work of national and international trade and business organisations aimed at developing responsible business practices on a voluntary basis and promoting the widespread adoption of best practices in the field.

The scope of these principles

These general principles on Kesko's corporate responsibility cover all companies in the Kesko Group, regardless of where they operate. Companies that become part of the Group through acquisitions are expected to draw up a plan on how they will incorporate these principles into their operations within 12 months of their integration.  

These principles were approved by Kesko's Corporate Management Board on 31.1.2007. Their implementation is monitored and coordinated by a Corporate Responsibility Advisory Board, which reports on progress and performance to the Corporate Management Board annually in connection with the production of the Annual Report.  

Kesko's general principles on corporate responsibility are supplemented by more detailed policies, principles, and guidelines drawn up at Group and divisional level covering specific areas of operations as well as the K Code of Conduct.   

The board of the K-retailers Federation has also reviewed these principles and recommends all independent K-retailers to observe them in their operations.

Kesko's purchasing principles 

Kesko's Board of Directors accepted the ethical principles for purchasing on 30 April 1999. The principles are based on the fundamental rights at work accepted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The principles are applied to purchases from such developing countries where legislation and/or its supervision do not guarantee that international minimum standards are met by companies.

The supplier can prove that it fulfils Kesko's ethical requirements by obtaining a neutral social certification for its operations.

Read more about the certification systems and Kesko's social quality control in practice:

Kesko's principles of socially responsible trading

Kesko wants to cooperate with its suppliers and their subcontractors on a systematic, long-term basis to ensure the ethical quality of their products. Deviations from Kesko's ethical principles are handled similarly to deviations from other quality requirements. In the long run, Kesko favours in its purchasing those suppliers that approve of Kesko's values and principles and want to act accordingly. The most reliable way for a supplier of proving that it fulfils Kesko's ethical requirements is to have an amfori BSCI audit or another corresponding audit approved by Kesko.

Fair trading
Mutual cooperation between Kesko and its suppliers shall be open-minded, fair and equal, and adhere to contract terms. Bribes and similar measures are not allowed in any circumstances.

Child labour
The age for admission to employment shall not be lower than the age for completing compulsory education, and usually not lower than 15 years (14 years in exceptional cases in countries with insufficiently developed economies). The employment of young persons shall not jeopardise their education or their physical, psychological, social or moral development.

Forced labour
Employment of forced labour is prohibited, and employees shall not be kept in locked premises nor shall their freedom be restricted in any other way.

Discrimination against any employee in respect of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction, social origin or corresponding reason is not accepted.

Treatment and safety of employees
A safe and healthy working environment shall be provided to employees. No employee shall be subject to any physical, psychological or sexual harassment, punishment or abuse.

Freedom of association
Employees shall have the right to join associations and to organise them.

Terms of employment
The regular working hours shall not exceed 48 hours and overtime 12 hours per week, unless lower limits have been specified in national legislation. Higher wage rates shall be applied to overtime.

Employees shall have paid annual leave and 24 hours of consecutive rest per week.

Employees shall be paid at least the minimum legal wage or a wage that is specified in a collective labour agreement that is binding on the employer, whichever is greater. Wages shall be paid direct to the employees.

Kesko's Board of Directors approved these principles on 30 April 1999, and on 22 October 2004 the Corporate Management Board approved the use of other certification systems along with the Social Accountability SA 8000 standard.

Special attention to high-risk countries

In its operations, Kesko pays special attention to human rights issues and working conditions across its sourcing chain. Supplier monitoring focuses mainly on countries where the risks that these rights will be violated are the greatest (such as in most Asian and African countries).

Special attention is paid to working conditions in factories located in high-risk countries, despite the small quantity of imports from these countries (1% of all Kesko's purchases in 2016).

International assessment systems such as amfori BSCI auditing are used for supplier audits in high-risk countries. Kesko is a member of amfori, the leading global business association for open and sustainable trade.  

The Principles and Practice of Socially Responsible Trading guide has been prepared to help Kesko's buyers and suppliers in purchases from high-risk countries.

Purchasing chain of clothes and shoes made transparent

Since 2015, Kesko has published a list of the factories in high-risk countries manufacturing Kesko’s own brand clothes, accessories, shoes and bags and those imported by the company itself on its website.

Products manufactured by the companies are sold at the K-Citymarket and the Kookenkä stores. The own brands of these chains include Mywear, Andiamo, Piano, Tango and 4Feet.

Most of the own brand products of K-Citymarket and Kookenkä imported into Finland come from China and India. All of the own brand clothes, accessories, shoes and bags of Kesko’s chains have markings of origin (country of manufacture).

The lists of factories are updated once a year. The lists were last updated on 20 August 2018.

The list of factories, K-Citymarket, updated on 20 August 2018

The list of factories, Kenkäkesko (shoes), updated on 20 August 2018


Read more about responsible purchasing in Kesko's Annual Report

Principles and Practice of Socially Responsible Trading guide

K Code of Conduct


To top