Signet's commitments to various stakeholders are articulated in the Principles. These are summarised below:
Signet's aim is to deliver an acceptable growth in value to shareholders which is sustainable, thereby protecting shareholders' short and longer term interests. The Group's responsibilities to shareholders are set out in more detail in the Corporate governance statement. The Group is committed to maintaining open dialogue with its shareholders on SEE and other matters. Signet has been a member of the FTSE4Good UK Index (the "index") since its launch and endeavours to meet the changing criteria of the Index. The Index has recently enhanced its requirements for environmental management, as well as introducing criteria relating to climate change and bribery and corruption. Signet has successfully met all new and applicable Index criteria, thereby retaining its inclusion.
Signet's mission is to meet, and where possible exceed, customer expectations through a high standard of customer service, high store standards, and by offering real choice and value. In doing so the Group endeavours to maintain product integrity by ensuring the quality of Signet's products and by offering merchandise that is responsibly sourced, and is in compliance with its obligations under the KPCS and the WDC system of warranties.
The Group's policy is that all customers should be treated with respect and warmth. Sales training programmes include modules on treating all customers with respect generally. The Group has customer service departments, complaint resolution processes, mystery shopper programmes and conducts market research to gain a better understanding of customer requirements. In the US division there is also a monthly customer satisfaction index for each store and a similar programme has been successfully tested in the UK.
Employees are key to Signet's ability to achieve its objectives and mission. Therefore teamwork, integrity, communication, and fair treatment of employees all play an important part in the way the Group operates. Furthermore, Signet's ability to operate in accordance with its Principles is dependent on its employees' understanding of them and the way in which the Principles have an impact on their respective roles and responsibilities.
Signet considers its relationship with its employees to be excellent and values honest, open and constructive two-way communication throughout the organisation. This is achieved through store, area and regional management meetings in addition to staff opinion surveys, feedback reports and staff meetings. These procedures facilitate consultation during which the views of employees can be expressed and taken into account in decisions likely to affect their interests. Staff are kept informed of the Group's performance and objectives through management contact supplemented by staff publications in both the UK and US. The involvement of employees in the Group's results is encouraged through participation in performance-related incentive payment schemes and savings-related share option schemes which include all Group employees subject to minimum employment requirements. The Group does not restrict or discriminate against employees who wish to be covered by collective bargaining agreements.
The Group's policy is not to tolerate any form of unlawful discrimination on any grounds or at any level. In respect of people with disabilities, full and fair consideration is given to employment, opportunities for training, career development and promotion according to their skills and capacity. There are well established dispute resolution procedures in both divisions. The services of any existing employees who become disabled are, where possible, retained and appropriate training is arranged for them wherever possible. The Group assigns responsibility for human resource matters, including health and safety, to divisional executive management committees. Both the UK and US operations have established systems which include the provision of training and development opportunities at all levels of the organisation. See pages 17 and 27 for further details.
Performance indicators relating to employee relations have been agreed and baseline data was collected in 2007/08 and will continue to be collected in 2008/09.
The Group recognises that stakeholders expect companies to exert influence, where possible, over vendors to ensure that SEE standards are upheld throughout the supply chain. The Supplier Code outlines Signet's commitment to its vendors and the expectations it has of them. It includes requirements relating to legal compliance, health and safety and labour conditions, freedom of association, the environment, ethics and conflict diamonds. This Code is available at www.signetgroupplc.com. The Supplier Code applies to suppliers and agents with whom Signet deals directly and Signet regularly discusses its implementation with them. Those vendors and agents are encouraged to ensure that the Supplier Code is communicated throughout the supply chain. During 2007 Signet wrote to all priority sources of diamond and gold jewellery highlighting the importance it places on a responsibly managed supply chain and reminding them of the expectations it places on them as suppliers to Signet. The letter concluded that in the Group's opinion the most efficient way of addressing supply chain issues is on an industry wide basis and that the best and most effective way of doing that is through the CRJP. Signet also actively encourages participants to join the CRJP at industry events.
Most of the raw and processed materials for the merchandise sold by Signet are traded on commodity exchanges or through multiple brokers and traders thereby making the original source difficult to trace. Signet believes that SEE risks at the mining, trading and secondary processing phases of the supply chain are more effectively managed through co-operation within the industry. Signet therefore actively participates in the CRJP and Jewelers of America in considering what action can be taken to set SEE standards and influence matters throughout the supply chain. Jewelers of America has adopted a Statement of Principles relating to SEE matters and a programme to communicate those principles to its members as well as having developed a supplier code for the industry reflecting those principles.
Signet is also working, where appropriate, with other trade bodies such as the WDC and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee to be better able to respond to SEE issues at an industry level.