Kimberly-Clark Corporation is a global manufacturing and marketing company in the consumer products business. The Company is currently concentrating new marketing efforts on emerging markets of Asia, Russia and Latin America. Historically, the Company was an integrated (pulp to finished product) paper products business. It has been reducing its exposure to the basic commodity pulp manufacturing capacity in an effort to improve its profitability in the consumer tissue business. The Company operates with a high degree of ethical behavior. "Doing the right thing" is a critical aspect of the Company's business strategy. The Company's Code of Conduct sets out guidelines for all employees (worldwide) on the topics of freedom of association (right to organize), diversity and non-discrimination, global human rights, workplace safety, and fair dealing with customers, suppliers, competitors and each other. The Company was ranked fifth among the top 100 large U.S. companies by the Corporate Responsibility Magazine. Cost reduction is a major part of the Company's current business strategy, but Wall Street is casting a cautious eye on the Company's ability to continue to grow in line with its Global Business Plan.
Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE KMB) was incorporated in Delaware in 1928. Kimberly-Clark ("the Company" or "K-C") is a global company engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of a wide range of personal care products around the world. The Company manufactures these products from natural or synthetic fibers, using advanced technologies to deliver a high level of liquid absorbency to customers, while being highly conscious of minimizing the impact on the environment. (Kimberly-Clark, 2011)
According to the Company web site, K-C has:
57,000 employees working in 36 countries, leading brands sold in more than 150 countries, been in the business nearly 140 years,
1.3 billion people buying its products every day, generated $19.7 billion in sales in 2010,
brands like Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex, Poise and Depend, which hold No. 1 or No. 2 brand share in more than 80 countries, been ranked first in the personal care category in Dow Jones' Sustainability World Index five years in a row (2005-2009),
contributed $22.7 million in cash and products to charitable causes in 2009.
Growth Markets for Kimberly-Clark International
For many years, the Company has seen its fastest growth in certain international markets (Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and South Africa.) Within these markets, K-C's focus is on Russia, China and Latin America. Sustainable growth is an important part of the Company's strategy in international markets. Local manufacturing is a key element of this strategy, and the Company is planning more regional manufacturing centers. These manufacturing centers will create local employment, contribute to local economies and limit the environmental impact and the cost from product transportation. Company policies and Code of Conduct (see details below) apply at all K-C facilities worldwide, requiring the same standards of all employees and operations with respect to labor and human rights, environmental protection, governance and ethical business practices. (Kimberly-Clark, 2011)
Products for Kimberly-Clark International Markets
Average income levels are generally lower in developing and emerging markets than in developed countries, and small, traditional stores often account for the majority of K-C's sales. The Company designs and sells affordable, quality products in appropriate pack sizes to suit consumer budgets in each market. This requires streamlining the business to keep costs low and ensure shoppers will be offered good value. For example, K-C has successfully introduced a lower-cost training pant in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Russia, and continues to sell individually packaged Huggies and Kotex products in Asia and South America. General observations show that many mothers around the world still use cloth diapers, partly because they perceive disposable options as costly. However, recent K-C market research has found that disposable diapers make it easier for mothers to leave the house with their young children, as there is less concern for embarrassing leakage than with cloth diapers. Using disposables also means less laundry, giving mothers more time for more enriching activities for themselves and their children. The Company's research also assessed how much mothers are willing to pay to make sure products are offered at an accessible price. K-C also sells semi-durable, affordable paper towels in more than 20 countries, and has developed products to meet cultural norms in Latin America where disposable paper towels are rarely used. (Kimberly-Clark, 2011)
Code of Conduct
Why Have a Code of Conduct?
Thomas Falk, Chairman of the Board, has made it clear in several venues and publications that operating with integrity and "doing the right thing" is a critical aspect of the business philosophy of K-C. He also emphasizes that the Company Code of Conduct applies to everyone in the Company, from the members of the board to the janitor in Moscow. He believes that a good reputation is a valuable asset and that the actions of all employees are under constant scrutiny and that everyone will be held accountable for their actions. The Code of Conduct creates a framework for the ethical standards of the Company, providing guidance for dealing with customers, suppliers, other employees, competitors and the public. (Kimberly-Clark, 2011)
Freedom of Association
The Company is committed to respecting employees' rights to freedom of association, including:
the right to organize in accordance with national laws and practices, the right to collective bargaining through representatives of their own choosing, the right of the chosen representatives to have reasonable access to the employees in order to represent them, the right to engage in other protected activities, the right to refrain from such activities.
Diversity and Non-Discrimination
Kimberly-Clark is committed to the professional development of a globally diverse workforce through equal employment opportunities, and commits to:
recruit, promote and support employees consistent with that goal, hire without regard to race, color, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, national origin, gender identity, disability, legally protected leave or other categories protected by applicable law, train, promote, and compensate based on the ability, achievement, experience, and conduct of the employee without regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, national origin, gender identity, disability, veteran status or other categories protected by applicable law, embrace the diversity of employees' talents, abilities, and experiences.
Global Human Rights
K-C is committed to recognizing and supporting human rights on a global basis. The Company prohibits the following practices and will not knowingly do business with any individual or company that participates in such actions:
exploitation of children, including child labor, physical punishment, female abuse and all other forms of human abuse, forced or compulsory labor, unlawful discrimination in employment and occupation.
Kimberly-Clark believes that occupational injuries and illnesses are preventable and can be eliminated. The Company states that no production goal, cost or time saving or competitive advantage is worth an injury of any kind. K-C is committed to:
ensuring that safety is a fundamental enterprise value which is integrated into K-C's research and engineering, product development, manufacturing, delivery, and sales activities, providing a workplace that meets or exceeds applicable occupational safety and hygiene laws and regulations, establishing K-C's own occupational safety and hygiene standards and technical guidance based on best practices, striving to continually improve applicable standards, encouraging all K-C personnel to contribute to safety improvements.
Kimberly-Clark is committed to "providing employees with a work environment free from harassment, intimidations, violence and drugs and alcohol." (Kimberly-Clark 2011)
Dealing with Customers and Suppliers
Kimberly-Clark is committed to fair dealing with its customers and suppliers. Employees are admonished to:
not mislead, misrepresent, deceive or take unfair advantage of customers or suppliers, correct a mistake, even if it is in favor of K-C,
buy from suppliers and sell to customers on appropriate business considerations such as quality, price, service and reliability, treat all potential suppliers fairly and honestly, never indicate to any supplier that their relationship with the Company could be affected by personal favors, donations to charity, etc., not to accept or give gifts, entertainment or favors to win or keep business.
Relationship with Competitors
The Company is committed to complying with anti-trust laws in every country where it does business. Employees are admonished to never discuss sensitive business topics such as prices, sales terms, business or marketing plans, margins, costs, production capacity, inventory levels, trade programs or discounts with any competitors. If a competitor raises any of these issues, K-C employees are required to stop the conversation immediately and to explain that it is against Company policy to discuss these matters. Valuable competitive information may be obtained in the normal course of business, but cannot be acquired through bribery or spying. It is against Company policy to hire an employee of a competitor to obtain competitive information. (Kimberly-Clark, 2011)
Summing up, K-C has consistently obeyed the dictum that "while our products may evolve, our values remain timeless." For nearly 140 years, K-C's values have been woven through the fabric of the Company. These values describe how the…