The Group is committed to enhancing shareholder value in an ethical and socially responsible manner by considering the interests of all its wide community of stakeholders including investors, employees, customers, suppliers and local communities.
The Group’s products and services provide solutions which help address the global issues of environmental control, energy conservation, healthcare and security through the development of high technology, innovative instruments and systems. Many of Oxford Instruments’ systems are used to protect the environment, including the screening and detection of hazardous substances in soils, electronic goods and petroleum. The Group participates in a global project to research into alternative clean, sustainable energy sources, and its superconducting wire is a key enabling factor in such programmes. The Group is continuously looking for new applications for its existing technologies to produce instruments and systems that will support the growing need to protect the world and the people who live in it.
There are formal codes of behaviour in place for the Group’s employees, which promote a commitment to maintaining the highest standard of ethics and integrity in the conduct of the Group’s business.
These codes include guidelines covering personal conduct, and advice on recognising and dealing with conflict of interests, business gifts, and bribery and corruption. Contributions to political parties or organisations are not made. A code of ethics and a business malpractice policy is in place and details are given to all new employees. The business malpractice policy provides employees with the opportunity to report unethical or illegal corporate conduct. The independent position of the Group’s Senior Independent Director provides an alternative channel of communications for those employees who require it. The formal code of ethics is updated regularly and is available on the corporate website or from the Company on request.
A fair and open culture is fostered throughout the business in which everyone’s views and contributions are encouraged and respected. New employees are introduced to the Company’s culture and style through an induction process which actively supports the corporate strategy. Business managers are provided with practical guidance explaining the Group’s policies and standards of conduct to ensure that these are maintained.
The Board believes that operating in this way is an important part of efficient and profitable business management, and recognises that the Group’s success depends on the involvement and commitment of everyone in the organisation.
Health and Safety
Oxford Instruments is committed to providing high standards of safety in the working conditions for its employees and to the continual improvement of its health and safety (H&S) performance. During 2008/09, reportable accidents were reduced and the collection of minor accident information has improved to provide a more complete view of safety performance. Two of the Group’s major sites are now certified to the OHSAS18001 Health and Safety Management System standard and this, or similar standards, will be implemented at its other sites. Health and Safety training and awareness is implemented on a site by site basis and tuned to the specific needs and requirements of each site.
Responsibility for H&S lies with the Board. Charles Holroyd, an Executive Director, is responsible for formulating the Group’s H&S strategy and objectives, reviewing performance against these objectives and for ensuring that key H&S issues are effectively identified and managed.
The Board also reviews the H&S performance of all the Group’s operations. All Group business divisions report progress on health and safety issues either monthly for large sites, or quarterly for smaller sites, to the Group Health, Safety and Environment Manager who is responsible for keeping Charles Holroyd, and consequently the Board, informed of serious issues. The Group Health, Safety and Environment Manager is responsible for auditing each site annually.
Employees are kept informed of current health and safety issues through information provided by local H&S Committees or forums whose members include staff from all areas of the business.
In addition, information is published on the Group intranet, notice boards and in monthly cascades and quarterly business reports. Employees are actively encouraged to suggest improvements that can be made in working conditions and practices.
The Board is committed to pursuing high standards of environmental performance, including the maintenance of safe and healthy working environments. During the next financial year, the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System standard will be implemented at two sites to assess its benefit in managing environmental issues.
The Group continues to focus on resource efficiency in order to minimise the effect of its operational processes on the environment. During the year, a focus on energy usage, particularly electricity, was initiated to reduce its carbon footprint. At the High Wycombe site, the consumption of electricity has been reduced by 250,000 kWh over seven months and carbon emissions reduced by 180 tonnes. The methodologies adopted will be rolled out to other sites during 2009/10. New technologies that can increase the savings on electricity and carbon emissions will be investigated. The Chief Executive also receives a monthly report on the number of kilometres travelled by air. Whilst these programmes benefit the environment, there is also a positive effect on the financial performance of the Company.
European directives continue to be enacted that have beneficial effects on the environment. The current Directives with which the Group is working to towards achieving include the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, the Restriction on use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of use of Chemicals (REACh) Directive, the electronic Industry code of Conduct (EICC) and the Energy use of Products (EuP) Directive.
Many of the Group’s innovative new products benefit the environment. For example, the recently developed cryogen free products from the NanoScience and NanoAnalysis businesses replace the use of liquid helium, which is a dwindling and non-renewable resource. The new products are both safer to use and more environmentally friendly.
The Group looks not only to improve the environmental performance of its own operations but also manufactures equipment that supports customers who have to comply with current regulations. For example, the X-MET range of hand-held analysers and the X-Strata range of benchtop analysers are used to check compliance to the RoHS directive and the WEEE directive. A different version of the XMET can be used in assessing contaminated land for the presence of heavy metals and is currently being used on the 2012 Olympics site near London.
All major sites have a responsibility to recycle waste materials. These materials include cardboard, paper, wood and metals. Employees are encouraged to recycle paper, packaging, bottles and cans.
All corporate literature is now printed on environmentally friendly paper, using Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited printers. This, together with the vegetable oils used to coat the paper, means that these documents are bio-degradable and recyclable.
The Board recognises that the Group’s employees are its most important asset and critical to the overall delivery of its business strategy. All employees are kept informed of progress against the Group’s strategic plan through regular video presentations on the intranet and face-to-face meetings with the Chief Executive, monthly team meetings, the Company intranet and newsletters.
Relations with employees are based on respect. The Group is committed to a working environment where there is mutual trust and where everyone is accountable for their own actions and share responsibility for the performance and reputation of the Group.
The Group’s aim is to ensure there are equal opportunities for all employees with no discrimination on account of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and political or religious beliefs. In return, employees are expected to act with integrity and maintain high ethical standards.
Ability and contribution are the determining factors in the selection, training, career development and promotion of all employees. The Group is committed to continuing professional development, managing individual and team performance and developing and valuing core skills. Having the right skills-mix ensures that the business grows through producing innovative products that meet or exceed customer requirements. Each year, the Chairman hosts The Chairman’s Awards for Innovation. These awards reward and recognise technical and process innovation. Employees are encouraged to enter projects and/or activities that show innovation in its broadest sense and at the same time have brought value to the business. Winners receive a trophy and a cash prize, awarded at a gala dinner. This year saw the highest number, and the highest standard of entries, since the competition began.
The team from High Wycombe won the Process Innovation Award for their success in reducing electricity usage at their site.
Policies are designed to provide employees with safe and healthy working conditions and practices.
It is the Group’s policy to provide competitive remuneration referenced against external market data. Business and individual performance determine actual remuneration and salaries are reviewed on an annual basis. Financial participation in the Group is encouraged through the Share Incentive Plan in the UK, Executive Share Options granted to management, and through bonus schemes based on financial performance.
A wide-ranging restructuring and efficiency programme was implemented during the year, resulting in a reduction in the workforce of 15%. Employee support services were offered in all affected sites. Where out-placement services were taken up, a 50% success rate in finding alternative employment has been achieved to date.
The Group believes that integrity in dealing with customers is a prerequisite for a successful and sustained business relationship. This principle governs all aspects of the business. The Group values its customers and the trust that they place in the Group, and will safeguard the information provided by customers in accordance with relevant laws and contractual commitments.
The Group’s ‘Voice of the Customer’ work ensures that the interests of all customers are at the core of the business. Oxford Instruments’ customers expect to receive and do receive high quality, reliable goods and services. Innovative and commercially successful products are developed to meet current and future requirements. These products are offered at competitive prices, and are backed by a global network of skilled support teams.
All companies in the Group work hard to establish mutual trust, respect and mutually beneficial relations with its business partners, including suppliers, banks and collaborative associates.
There is a Group supplier management process in place which promotes a common supply chain strategy split by commodity, driving the business towards fewer high level suppliers. This process has resulted in substantial savings and cost avoidance across the Group, as well as enabling reductions in working capital
The Strategic Sourcing Team regularly inspect and audit suppliers, and closely manage outsourcing to low cost countries. ‘Road maps’ and regular strategic reviews are in place for strategically important suppliers. In accordance with ISO9001 and ISO 14001, only quality approved organisations are used .
The well-being of the communities in which the Group operates is important to its long term development and success. The Group offers worthwhile and valuable employment in a safe and well cared for working environment, and encourages a healthy work/life balance.
The Group is an active supporter of local, national and international science communities both on a corporate level, a business group level and an individual level.
The Group also sponsors a number of international and national awards and events including the prestigious Sir Martin Wood Prize through the Millennium Science Forum in Japan.
Business groups and employees are supported in any activities that promote good relations with the local communities by contributing to, and supporting, local charities and community activities. The focus is on supporting science in business, and encouraging innovation and the promotion of science in schools and universities.
Employees are encouraged to contribute to local charities using the Give-As-You-Earn scheme, and this year the Group was awarded a Bronze Award for Payroll Giving by The Institute of Fundraising. Local social clubs run annual fundraising activities for a chosen charity and the Group supports these efforts with an additional donation.