Audits of retail service providers

Kesko began to audit retail service providers in Finland in 2020. The sustainability of retail service providers – such as cleaning companies and sushi shop owners – is monitored by means of third-party audits.

Kesko leads the way in sustainability, and stakeholders require the company to operate responsibly. This requirement covers all Kesko’s operations. Our principles are the same in all our countries of operation, for every employee and partner.

The K Code of Conduct provides guidelines on sustainable operations for employees and partners. Key aspects include labour laws, equality, privacy, the prevention of bribery and other forms of corruption, competition, consumer protection, safety at work, environmental protection and product safety.

Third-party audits of service providers

Kesko began to audit retail service providers in Finland in 2020. The audits are carried out by Bureau Veritas, a company providing test, inspection and certification services. Kesko has cooperated with Bureau Veritas for a long time.

The questions concerning social responsibility have been tailored to the audits. As far as applicable, they are based on the international SMETA audit criteria, which are used for the assessment and implementation of social responsibility, and on the ISO 26000 standard.

Service providers are audited to ensure that:

  • The service provider’s operations comply with the contract, the K Code of Conduct, food legislation, Kesko’s sustainable development guidelines and other commitments
  • The service process is being implemented as agreed.

An audit takes six to eight hours and consists of interviews, a review of written documents and an assessment of the store’s operating environment to ensure sufficient proof of compliance with the requirements.

The interviews with the store’s and service provider’s management are scheduled in advance, but the interviews with the service provider’s employees are carried out anonymously by the auditor.

A representative of Kesko is present during the audit, with the exception of the employee interviews.

Audits are conducted in Finnish or English, depending on the service provider’s preference. If other languages are needed, an interpreter is used over the phone during employee interviews.

A total of around 30 service provider audits had been conducted by the end of 2022. Because of an elevated risk of infection during the coronavirus pandemic, two audits were conducted using Teams, without an assessment of the store’s operating environment.

Monitoring and corrective measures

The service provider, the retailer and the department store director are informed about any corrective measures and development needs at a store-specific review meeting after the audit. The service provider is provided with support and guidance on implementing corrective measures.

The contracting parties and Kesko will monitor the implementation of corrective measures in the audited location and the service provider’s other locations. If necessary, a re-audit is carried out.

Examples of corrective measures:

  • Kesko’s and its retailers’ competence has been increased and tools have been developed. For example, consistent contract templates and appendices tailored for cleaning services have been introduced for all K-Citymarket stores, as well as the K-Retailers’ Association’s updated contract templates and appendices for retailers.
  • A checklist for selecting and monitoring service providers has been prepared, which the store can use for the selection and continuous monitoring of service providers.
  • A more detailed review of the K Code of Conduct with the service provider has been recommended.
  • Service providers have been advised to use work shift planning software that takes account of the collective agreement, as well as electronic work time monitoring.
  • Recommendations have been issued to introduce an anonymous whistle-blowing channel, further develop induction training materials and document induction training in more detail.
  • Guidelines have been provided to further develop occupational health and safety and prepare an equality plan, in addition to meeting other statutory requirements.
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