Acting with ethics and integrity
Rexel operates in a complex environment, in which commercial, social, and environmental issues are closely related and constantly changing. Its development strategy includes quantified environmental and social goals for all of its activities. Everywhere it operates, the Group ensures that its activities comply with the most rigorous ethical standards. It is especially proactive in the crucial area of data protection.
Rexel’s governance guarantees that ESG challenges are fully addressed as part of the Group’s overall strategy. This organization ensures the consistent implementation of this approach at every level, from decision-making bodies – the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee – to operational deployment among the subsidiaries and the various stakeholders.
The Board of Directors
Every year, the Board examines the consistency of Rexel’s environmental and social commitments and verifies the tracking of performance indicators and goals. Its decisions regarding the Group’s strategic direction include social and environmental aspects. The Board members are also informed of all matters through brief, thematic factsheets published by the Sustainable Development Department. The composition of the Board of Directors complies with diversity and gender balance requirements. When nominating or renewing its members, the Board makes sure to include profiles with ESG expertise.
The Executive Committee
It has a triple responsibility in terms of sustainable development: Guarantee the proper application of decisions with the aim of reaching established objectives; Make sure to include extra-financial opportunities and risks within the overall strategy; and undertake structural projects necessary for the Group’s sustainable transition. In 2021, every member of the Executive Committee in charge of a functional department was assigned a mission related to sustainable development*, to be carried out with a dedicated project team and the support of the Sustainable Development Department.
*ESG mission subjects: Governance, value chain, Net Zero Standard and climate, training and awareness-raising, financing the transition, circular economy.
BUSINESS ETHICS FOR RESPONSIBLE MANAGEMENT
In a world and an industry undergoing constant and rapid change, new risks are emerging. Responsible business management adds to Rexel’s reputation and improves its competitiveness and attractiveness. The Group’s goal is to ensure that its employees and partners adopt responsible behavior in their day-to-day activities. This objective applies to all of the Group’s countries, in compliance with the highest local and international standards and regulations.
Rexel implements a common compliance program throughout all of its subsidiaries. Its goal? Ban any practice in noncompliance with the regulations, business ethics, and standards that it has established. Adhering as closely as possible to local specificities, its implementation relies on internal verification procedures and its improvement on an annual self-assessment campaign.
The program is implemented via the dissemination of tools, guides, and charters compiling the behaviors to adopt, among which the most important is the Ethics Guide. The first manifestation of this continuous improvement approach, this common reference framework was initiated in 2007 and is currently available in digital format in all of the Group’s languages.
A foundational document compiling all of Rexel’s standards in terms of ethics, transparency, and anti-corruption, the Ethics Guide covers business ethics and all employee-related topics. It is regularly updated and expanded with documents describing Rexel’s more specific commitments (Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct, Competition Law Guide, Environmental Charter, etc.).
Rexel’s compliance program at work
The Group regularly updates its goals and mobilizes the necessary resources to ensure the effectiveness of its compliance program.
An alert system and dedicated network of correspondents
Rexel encourages everyone to remain vigilant in order to prevent the social and environmental risks related to its activity. An alert system available in all of the Group’s countries is open to all stakeholders. It makes it possible to receive reports via a form available at ethique.rexel.com in compliance with requirements relating to the guaranteed rights of whistleblowers.
The network of ethics correspondents ensures a local relay point for questions concerning the Group’s ethics practices. Employee or not, anyone can contact them in complete confidentiality.
Employees trained in ethics issues
Raising employee awareness of business ethics is a priority for Rexel. A common training program is organized in the form of e-learning modules and a series of videos available online. Training covers obligations in terms of competition, anti-corruption, personal data protection, and business restrictions. The employees who are the most exposed to some of these risks receive specific content. On a day-to-day basis, the dissemination of an active ethical culture is ensured by a network of compliance correspondents and ethics correspondents in close collaboration with local management.
The anti-corruption program
At Rexel, the dissemination of responsible practices demands the detection and prevention of any action possibly involving corruption. Within this framework, the Group has developed a common Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct that meets the requirements of French law. Included as an appendix to internal rules of procedure, it invites employees to communicate on the topic and on the current rules with customers, suppliers, and partners. Specific rules have been created for business travel as well as for gifts and invitations offered and received by salespeople. They form a clear ethical conduct framework for employees and help build trusted business relationships with all stakeholders.
Fighting tax evasion
Because taxation cannot be a blind spot in corporate responsibility, Rexel implements inspection procedures and missions on taxation practices and processes. They are based on an annual self-assessment campaign run by the Finance department, as well as on the work of the Internal Audit Department for the Audit Committee. The Tax Department supports the operational teams on the topic of taxation. Finally, the Group regularly relies on the advice of its tax advisors in order to identify and analyze the laws and regulations that apply to it and to ensure compliance, especially in the event of a major strategic operation.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE IN THE AREA OF PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION
Beyond compliance with European regulations (GDPR*) in place since 2018, personal data protection is a major operational issue for Rexel, especially with the increasing digitization of its activity. Within this context, the Group is working to set an example on the subject.
*GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation
GDPR: Towards a universal application
In 2018, Rexel began a GDPR compliance process based on three pillars: Employees, customers, and service providers, in its subsidiaries operating in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. A cross-disciplinary working group was set up for it. These efforts were supported by a pilot approach: Tracking the data processing in various subsidiaries, sharing feedback and best practices, and analyzing results. This pilot approach enabled the creation of a data protection program, along with a comprehensive roadmap for the EEA. The approach was extended to the United States with a dedicated working group, taking into account all of the local regulations in place.
Personal data protection charter
Demonstrating its commitment to data protection, Rexel has adopted an internal charter. It supports the Group’s employees and partners through a compilation of rules and procedures framing its activity, in compliance with the key principles of the GDPR. For example, the Privacy by Design procedure covers the inclusion of data protection starting with the design of a new product or service.
Employee training and information
Rexel implements various internal initiatives about the issues and implications of the GDPR: Information and poster campaigns, training and awareness-raising sessions via e-learning modules. Specific presentations are provided for teams directly concerned by this subject in their daily work: Human Resources, e-commerce, Information Systems, and General Services.
Whenever its business requires it, Rexel makes sure that its partners and suppliers implement appropriate protective measures for the data entrusted to them, in line with the internal charter. This involves, among other things, the review and update of contractual commitments and security policies established by the partners concerned.