Meeting the Challenge of COVID-19
COVID-19 presented a unique challenge for all companies operating in 2020. As part of the essential supply chain, we met the challenge by putting safety measures in place, instituting paid leave for all U.S. employees for certain COVID-19-related reasons, implementing remote work practices where possible, and designing and implementing significant additional safety protocols for those needing to be onsite in our manufacturing facilities. As of December 31, 2020, we had not experienced any work- related outbreaks at our facilities. We attribute this to our aggressive COVID-19 safety practices, bucketed into four main areas:
- PROACTIVE COMMUNICATION: to facilitate communication, including weekly COVID-19 updates for Operations Managers and town halls for all staff conducted by IPG’s senior management.
- PREVENTION: Cleaning and sanitization processes including disinfection using UVC light and ozone to sanitize areas and objects; social distancing including camera monitoring to assess social distancing performance and wearables to alert workers when the adequate distance is not maintained and to help with contract tracking if needed; mandatory mask requirement; remote working; physical barriers; touchless entry and exit, and temperature monitoring.
- RESPONSE PLAN: Incident response and ‘ready- to-go’-resources like cleaning kits.
- BEST PRACTICE SHARING AND TECHNOLOGY: Quicker knowledge transfer across locations managed by a dedicated corporate team, including a COVID-19 Best Practice Matrix, as well as the evaluation of technologies to manage risk and automate processes.
Safety Practices & Performance
Safety is a top priority at IPG and the shared responsibility of every employee. Safety is overseen by our Director, Safety, reporting to the Senior Vice- President, Human Resources. We are proud that our positive trends in safety performance continued in 2020, despite challenges presented by COVID-19.
IPG did not experience any fatalities at our sites in 2020. Sprains, strains and hand injuries continue to account for the majority of incidents. Work-related hazards that pose a risk of high consequence injury continue to include moving equipment and machine hazards. We continue to implement engineering controls, increase training, modify work instructions and procedures, or shift to less manual tasks to address these risks. 403-10
Our strong management system, known as the IPS (see Bridge to Excellence IPS section of this report for more information) drives this performance, grounded by our Corporate Health and Safety Policy, and supported by expectations set and resourced by our senior management team. The IPG operations team oversees IPS, supported by safety leadership teams, working together to set and achieve performance improvements. (For additional details, see Worker Safety in our 2019 Sustainability Report). IPS is based on a traditional plan-do-check- act management system framework, applies to all employees, including full-time and temporary workers, and undergoes routine internal audits. Our safety programs have not been audited or certified by an external third party 103-2; 403-1; 403-8
We reinforce our commitment to safety through our internal safety recognition programs.
In 2020, we successfully deployed health and safety plans, conducted safety training, and ultimately reduced the number of exposures. Individual facility objectives continue to focus on hazard identification and reduction, employee training, and self-assessment. Site metrics include the number of hazards corrected and various leading and lagging indicators, which get reported to management monthly. Tracked lagging indicators continue to include, but are not limited to, total Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable cases, Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR), Lost Workday Case Incident Rate (LWCIR), and Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) cases, while leading indicators include on-time training completion, near misses, and the number of exposures reduced.
IPG’s safety programs encourage employees to identify, correct, and report hazardous conditions or situations, and every employee is empowered to stop work if necessary. Company policies protect employees against reprisals for the identification of safety hazards. We conduct safety audits, daily workplace inspections, develop and track safety work orders, and consider employee suggestions to identify and reduce workplace hazards, supplemented by the use of process hazard and job safety assessments to identify risks at the operational level. The Job Safety Assessments (JSAs) evaluate potential hazard controls based on various risk assessment factors. The Process Hazard Assessment (PHA) is an essential counterpart in the risk assessment process, focusing on workplace layout and design, equipment design, and risk reduction using various control methods. 403-2 Our goal in 2021 is to fully implement a digital safety platform that will improve our overall incident management program, capture and track potential hazards, and provide new leading indicators to our Health and Safety Management System.
Worker health and safety committees are in place at a majority of our manufacturing facilities, as required by law, collective bargaining agreement, or as part of the IPS, which incorporates worker participation, consultation, and communication at the shift-to-shift and worker-to-management levels (see Bridge to Excellence IPS section for more information). Worker health and safety committee meeting frequencies vary from site to site but in no case less than quarterly. 403-4
Safety training occurs throughout IPG, at all locations and levels of the Company. Required safety training is conducted monthly and includes both new employee and refresher training. The Operations leadership team monitors training topics identified at the local level, and training metrics are tracked in the monthly safety report. Typical training includes hazard recognition, forklift safety, emergency planning and response, electrical safety, and other essential workplace topics. 403-5
The Occupational Health Services we offer vary by site. Currently, all offer basic first aid services on-site, and some are equipped with first responders. We are setting up an online service, where employees will be able to talk to a nurse on the phone or complete a doctor visit online. Emergency services are provided off-site. 403-3
We promote worker health by providing health services (for all full-time employees), and persistently focusing on employee wellness through weekly wellness communications and the employee assistance program site.
In the U.S., our medical, dental, and vision plans primarily address non-occupational health services. Our medical plans include preventive care and wellness care through well-visits and preventive screenings in addition to medical conditions. The dental plan also provides preventive care, and our vision coverage provides routine vision exams and contacts or glasses. The coverage also provides LiveHealth Online access, which offers online visits for medical and psychological matters. There is zero co- pay for medical visits. Global Fit and other health and wellness type programs provide employees discounts. All employees have access to an employee assistance program which provides referrals and counseling for a wide array of personal and family concerns. In Canada, Portugal, and India, we offer non-occupational medical health services, and we offer dental and vision services in Canada and Portugal. 403-6
Our non-COVID-19 related safety challenges continue to be integrating recent acquisitions into the IPG system, normalizing recordkeeping practices across all sites, and implementing our digital safety platform, which is scheduled for roll out in 2021.
2020 was a unique year, and IPG faced the challenges presented by COVID-19 along with the rest of the world. At IPG, as with most companies, our challenges were two-fold: keeping our employees safe and meeting our customers’ demands for our products.
In all cases, employee safety came first. We put safety measures in place to keep our employees healthy and help them meet the personal challenges they faced if they or a loved one became ill or their childcare options became restricted. We instituted unlimited paid sick leave in the U.S. for certain COVID-19- related reasons, facilitated remote working where feasible, and implemented extensive cleaning and safety measures in our facilities. We balanced production runs and inventory with frequent demand planning by product line, evaluated each product line to determine if its manufacture was “essential” under the applicable guidance of local government on a facility-by-facility level, and developed increased communication around the steps we were taking to address the challenges we were facing. A COVID-19 online portal provided consistent communication, access to CDC-approved cleaning materials and procedures, and updated policies and guidelines. We further developed plans to assist in responding to COVID-19 exposures.
The totality of these efforts has proven successful. While we have had several hundred COVID-19 cases among our employees, at the end of 2020, we had no cases originating from our workplace.
Our facilities have remained on line to the extent permitted under applicable law, and have met our customers’ demand for our products. We are proud of how we handled this challenge. Through a Kids Draw COVID-19 Poster Challenge, our employees’ children created posters that now hang throughout our facilities, reminding our employees to be safe.
Our HR group, headed by the Senior Vice-President, Human Resources, is responsible for safety, recruiting, engagement, culture, development, and total rewards. Numerous HR policies guide these efforts, including a new paid personal time off policy developed in 2020 that will be implemented in 2021. 103-2
Education, Training, & Development
Education, training, and development programs are standardized where appropriate but designed to reflect regional and operational differences as needed. New hire, IT security, and safety training are offered in all regions. In 2020, we continued training our employees on our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (Code of Conduct) and initiated LSW and core leadership training for our supervisory employees. This training provides our expectations for leaders in our organization and will continue in 2021. Other training types—including first aid training, fire extinguisher training, workplace hygiene, hazard communication training, on the job training, forklift training, and leadership training, among other topics—are also provided. IPG does not track the average hours of training per employee. 404-1; 404-2
In 2020, approximately 55% of our workforce received a performance review, as shown on the next page. 404-3
Employee Satisfaction & Engagement
Our employees are our most valuable asset, and their feedback is critical to our success. In 2020, we assessed the results from an employee engagement survey conducted in 2019. We developed action plans, and tracked, corrected, and closed items, communicating the steps taken back to the employees. In 2021, we are exploring a shorter, more targeted survey to supplement our learnings.
Employee Retention & Benefits
We offer comprehensive and competitive benefits to attract and retain talented employees. Benefits provided to full-time employees working over 30 hours per week may include health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, retirement plans, paid leave, vacation, sick time, personal time, and tuition assistance, although offerings vary by location and country. In India, health insurance and retirement, transportation, and meal benefits are currently provided, and starting in 2021, accidental death life insurance and short-term and long-term disability will also be offered. 401-2 IPG has not established minimum notice periods for operational changes but provides as much notice as commercially reasonable. In certain regions, including Canada, laws dictate the notification required; in the U.S., we follow collective bargaining agreements or the WARN Act. 402-1 Transition assistance is offered through an outside partner for employees in the United States not terminated for cause and not due to retirement. While assistance levels can vary based upon position, typical benefits include resume assistance, job search assistance and career coaching. This benefit is offered free of cost to the departing employee and has proven a successful resource for former IPG employees. 404-2
Laws in Canada and Portugal establish parental leave requirements for both parents, while India provides leave for only female employees. In the U.S., parental leave is allowed under the Family Medical Leave Act, and short-term disability benefits provide income for the birth mother. For the father or adoptive/foster parent, this will mean unpaid but job-protected leave. IPG has programs to support breastfeeding mothers. In 2020, employees entitled to do so took parental leave in the United States, India, Canada, and Portugal. 401-3
Health & Wellness
IPG provides Health & Wellness benefits to all employees, including employee assistance programs, at no charge. We promote wellness through a continuous campaign around a selected topic, such as cancer awareness, heart health and suicide prevention. In 2020, we expanded our focus on wellness, with weekly wellness communications provided company-wide. Additionally, wellness emails were sent weekly to all employees with email access in North America with a selected topic of the week. These emails were quick reads and visuals focused on physical and mental wellness. This trend continues in 2021.
We believe that diversity enriches our performance and products, the communities in which we live and work, and the lives of our employees. Aligned with our corporate values, our approach to inclusion and diversity (I&D) is people-centric, considering our employees and growing diversity in our communities and global marketplace. We strive to create a diverse, global workforce that represents the communities in which we operate. Our Commitment to I&D and our Board Diversity Policy are available on our website. 103-1
In 2020, after events in the United States increased attention toward racial injustice, our Chief Executive Officer and President sent a statement to all employees reminding them of our statement and commitment to inclusion and diversity.
We include I&D under our People and Communities SVN, of which the Senior Vice- President, Human Resources is executive sponsor. Our efforts currently are focused on creating the training and development plans for all leaders in our organization.
We expect all employees to help foster and develop a respectful and equitable work environment that allows room for individuals of varying walks of life to feel welcome. We have zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind. Anyone with concerns about our inclusion and diversity can speak with their manager, human resources, or, if necessary, report anonymously through our business conduct and ethics hotline. 103-2
Our Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Prevention Policy, supported by our Code of Conduct, states our firm commitment to provide equal opportunity in all aspects of employment and that we will not tolerate illegal discrimination or harassment of any kind. We strive to create a diverse, global workforce that represents the communities in which we operate.
As signatories to the Compact, we have publicly committed to: support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; ensure we are not complicit in human rights abuses; uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; support elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Our Human Rights Policy establishes our commitment to conduct business with honesty and integrity in all our operations throughout the world. The policy commits IPG to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, treaties and to treat all people with dignity and respect. It includes a statement regarding ethical business conduct, protection of workers’ rights, equal opportunity, compensation, and indigenous people. The Senior Vice-President, Human Resources, oversees human rights issues, supported by Human Resources Managers and operating site personnel.
IPG further supports eliminating all forms of forced, bonded or compulsory labor and strengthening our employees’ freedom of association. We believe that people should choose whether to work, not be compelled due to force or threats. We prohibit the use of prison labor, forcibly indentured labor, bonded labor, slavery or servitude. IPG condemns all forms of exploitation of children, and IPG does not recruit child labor.
Several IPG customers conduct social audits of their suppliers. Third parties conduct these social audits. The human rights topics covered include child labor and hiring procedures, the hours of work and overtime, wages and benefits, disciplinary action, termination and retrenchment, anti-discrimination, harassment and abuse, freedom of association and grievance procedures. In the last three years, 5 of our 28 manufacturing sites, or just under 20%, of our sites have undergone these reviews. All five sites are in the United States. 412-1
While we did not conduct dedicated human rights training in 2020, we did undertake training on our Code of Conduct, which includes human rights components. We do not track training hours at the corporate level. 412-2 In 2020, we began incorporating into our supplier contracts the expectation that suppliers will abide by the Compact’s commitments, even if they are not signatories themselves. 412-3
Regarding child labor, forced or compulsory labor, or limits to freedom of association or collective bargaining, we do not consider any of our operations at risk. However, we acknowledge that at least one of the countries in which we have manufacturing operations is considered at risk for human rights concerns. 407-1; 408-1; 409-1
IPG has entered into collective bargaining agreements with a subset of our operations. Collective bargaining agreements are in place for approximately 23% of employees in North America; outside of the U.S., collective bargaining agreements cover 12% of employees. 102-41
In addition to the Code of Conduct, IPG maintains a separate Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Prevention Policy, further detailing IPG’s intolerance for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. IPG is committed to providing a work environment free of harassment based on any protected characteristics. We promptly investigate all incidents of discrimination and handle them appropriately. The status of incidents and actions taken are considered confidential and are not reported. 406-1
As with most manufacturing organizations, our supply chain is extensive, and our impacts extend to how and where we procure the materials needed for our operations.
We procure custom-designed manufacturing equipment from manufacturers located in the U.S., Western Europe, and Asia and primary raw materials, including resins, rubber, adhesives, paper, additives, color concentrates, and reinforcements, along with lesser amounts of several other materials, primarily from North America. However, these can occasionally be sourced from outside North America, as well. We estimate that in the EU, Asia, and North America, 2%, 9%, and 89% of our materials, respectively, are sourced from the same region as the operating facility using the materials. 204-1
Our supply chain includes approximately 700 raw material and packaging suppliers representing an annual procurement spend of approximately $465 million.* 102-9 The Senior Vice-President, Supply Chain and Global Sourcing oversees supply chain operations, supported by the Director, Global Souring, and an extended team that incorporates both Corporate oversight and local purchasing expertise. 103-2
Beginning in 2018, we partnered with Greensoft to start the process of understanding the materials present in our raw materials from each of our suppliers and ensuring that we were compliant with evolving global environmental regulations. In 2019, we partnered with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) to begin our C2C journey. In 2020, we began requiring that our new vendors recognize IPG’s participation in the Compact as part of their contracting process. In 2020, we entered into a relationship with EcoVadis to measure and share our report card and develop our roadmap for the next steps for further improvement.
Additionally, we expect all suppliers to adhere to our Code of Conduct and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (Transparency Act). We include these expectations in all formal supplier contracts and post such requirement on the IPG website. The Code of Conduct contains policies requiring compliance with all applicable laws. Through our contracts, vendors and suppliers further certify that products supplied to IPG comply with the laws regarding slavery and human trafficking of the countries where they are doing business.
We have not conducted human rights assessments of our suppliers but are exploring steps to understand better the risk for child labor, forced or compulsory labor, or limits to freedom of association or collective bargaining in our supply chain. 407-1; 408-1; 409-1 IPG has not engaged in verification or conducted social or environmental audits of product supply chains or suppliers. 308-1; 414-1
Stewardship speaks to the profound care IPG takes for the communities in which we operate. Our communities are the home we share with our employees, their families, and those around them. Our highest priorities are related to children and wellness, vital to thriving communities. 103-1
We take a people-centric approach that starts with our employees and their understanding of community concerns. Whether through volunteering or donations, we strive for meaningful action to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Each facility’s budget includes funding for local philanthropy and programs, and we support all our facilities to engage in community stewardship. The Human Resources Managers track efforts and outcomes at each facility. We have yet to assess whether our facilities have any significant actual or potential negative impacts on local communities. 103-2, 413-1, 413-2
In 2020, our People and Communities SVN developed giving and volunteering practices and began to create an enterprise-level view of our efforts in communities that will inform centralized, strategic guidance. Many of our legacy sites are deeply involved with charitable giving and community volunteering and have been for years. We are currently working to integrate this part of our culture throughout our global facilities, including our more recent acquisitions. The People and Communities SVN, supported by the HR team, is helping lead these efforts.
With COVID-19 dramatically upending lives, our focus on children and wellness took on a new emphasis. We reimagined our programs and rallied to satisfy crucial needs in our communities. IPG made charitable donations, including to the Indian Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. Employees donated food, physical goods, and volunteer hours to several causes.
Food bank matching campaign: Early in the pandemic, we identified that food insecurity was a concern in many communities. We organized our first-ever company-wide virtual food drive in which employees were able to make online donations to approved food banks associated with each location. Employees donated, and IPG matched those donations at 100 percent.
Red Cross donation: In support of the Nova Scotia community after the tragic mass shooting in Truro in April 2020, IPG donated to the Canadian Red Cross.
Midland park cleanup: Recognizing the increased importance of their local park, IPG employees in Midland, North Carolina, organized a clean-up of that park.
Danville bike donation: In 2020, the Danville facility donated more than 20 bicycles to the local Boys and Girls Clubs, the 4th consecutive year that Danville has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs to impact the community.
Providing protection in the face of the pandemic: Knowing that the families of many of our hourly employees in India do not have easy access to sufficient amounts of soap or hand sanitizer in their homes, IPG developed a program to provide employees soap, hand sanitizer, and protective masks to take home for their families use.
Fighting child abuse and neglect: IPG’s facility located in Marysville, MI, raised money for the “Community Roofsit” in Port Huron, Michigan, donating to the Child Abuse and Neglect Council, a nonprofit organization to prevent child abuse in St. Clair County. IPG employees raised funds matched 100% by IPG for this organization.
Raising funds and awareness for women’s health: Despite the cancellation of most community walks due to COVID-19, IPG raised funds and awareness for women’s health month in October. IPG donated $10 to the American Cancer Society or Canadian Cancer Society for every female IPG employee reported to have or scheduled a mammogram or annual physical. We decided to extend our donation and did the same for men who reported to have or scheduled a regular physical.
Movember® Foundation donation: We participated in our annual men’s health awareness and fundraising. IPG donated for each employee who grew a mustache or beard throughout November, in addition to cash raised in a silent auction. A virtual reveal showcased this year’s contestants.
Upholding our support of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County: There was no regatta nor a steak and burger event in 2020 due to COVID-19. Instead, we donated funds to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. Employees further contributed to a holiday toy drive, and IPG purchased any remaining items to ensure that every holiday wish was fulfilled.
IPG Employees Serve Their Communities by Making PPE at Home
As part of a group of volunteers, IPG’s Rosanne Raap, made face coverings for the local Manatee County Sheriff’s Department. IPG employee Nolan Line (pictured at left), and his wife, Tammi, sewed over 1,500 face coverings for Sarasota & Manatee County, Florida front- line workers and donated to local hospitals, fire & police departments, and correctional facilities. IPG’s Tyler Neill 3D-printed face shields for a local children’s hospital and nursing home in Georgia. When Tyler learned the nursing home had no face shields and over 100 employees to protect against COVID-19, he started this amazing at-home operation.
IPG Giving Back During COVID-19 Pandemic
IPG’s facility in Danville, Virginia, in association with God’s Pit Crew, was able to help deliver COVID-19 resources to New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and Connecticut. In addition, we were pleased to donate boxes to assemble 500 meals for the homeless and needy in Roanoke, Virginia.
Our engagements with stakeholders help to shape our sustainability journey. IPG defines stakeholders consistent with the GRI: as entities or individuals, we can reasonably expect to be significantly affected by our activities, products, or services, or whose actions we can reasonably expect to affect our ability to implement strategies or achieve objectives. 102-42
Our approach to stakeholder engagement considers the guidance of our Code of Conduct and other specific policies. The frequency of engagement depends on each stakeholder group and is appropriate to the nature of the relationship. 102-43
Our stakeholders include customers, business partners, employees, investors, and shareholders, as well as various community, third-party, and government groups, as outlined (in the chart that follows). In 2020, we considered each of these stakeholder groups and their topics of interest in our materiality assessment (see page 10), which informed this report and our disclosures in our proxy statement. 102-44
IPG subscribes to externally developed economic, environmental, and social charters, principles, and other initiatives that align with our sustainability efforts. 102-12
United Nations Global Compact: IPG signed the Compact in December 2019 and assessed our adherence to the Compact’s Principals in 2020. Since completing, we have taken steps to adopt the ten principles governing human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption as described in the related sections of this report.
Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) Demand Champion: IPG signed APR’s Demand Champion Commitment letter signifying our support of including increased post-consumer recycled content in our products. APR Recycling Demand Champions help drive the market demand for mixed residential plastics, in turn, driving investment, increasing supply, and producing more high-quality PCR.
U.S. EPA America Recycles Pledge Signatory: Signatories agree to join others who have signed the pledge to work toward a more resilient materials economy. By signing the pledge, IPG is signaling our support to act with other pledge signatories to improve America’s recycling system.
EPA ENERGY STAR: An ENERGY STAR Industrial partner since 2009, IPG is a 2020 Partner of the Year– Sustained Excellence for ongoing contributions to reducing harmful carbon pollution through superior energy efficiency efforts. For more information, see the Energy & Climate section on page 37.
EPA SmartWay: IPG participates in EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, which helps companies and organizations achieve their freight supply chain sustainability goals by providing complimentary credible tools, data, and standards for measuring, benchmarking, and improving environmental performance. See page 39 for more details about our work with SmartWay.
Sustainable Packaging Coalition/How2Recycle®: IPG is proud to partner with How2Recycle to make it easier for consumers to understand how to recycle our products. How2Recycle is a voluntary, standardized labeling system that communicates recycling instructions to the public. See the Product Design & Innovation section of this report on page 13 for details.
Consortium for Waste to Syngas Circularity (CWSC): IPG is a founding member of CWSC, a group that envisions a world without waste, in which waste is treated as a valuable resource. The Consortium’s mission is to transform the recycling infrastructure through the advancement of economically sustainable waste to syngas technologies. Learn more about CWSC at wastecircularity.org.
Memberships of Associations 102-13
IPG maintains corporate memberships in various industry or other associations and national or international advocacy organizations, including: