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Acting with integrity

We behave ethically and apply the highest quality and safety standards to everything we do.

Ethical business conduct is not an aspiration for us – it is a given. It translates across all our business dimensions. Sonova operates in an international context, so we appreciate the complex realities of modern supply chains and regulatory frameworks; we understand that our impact extends across the Group’s entire value chain. It is therefore our responsibility to ensure that all our business processes are run with integrity.

integrity

Our ESG targets

  • We improve the product reliability rate over 20% year-over-year for hearing instruments (HI) and cochlear implants (CI).
  • We implement human rights due diligence (HRDD) aligned with international frameworks and train all relevant employees by 2022/23.
  • We achieve annual on-time mandatory employee Global Compliance training completion rate of over 95%.

Initiatives and Programs

In the following there is a description of the various aspects of the ‘Acting with integrity’ pillar of our IntACT ESG strategy:

  • Product quality, safety and reliability

    Sonova’s medical devices are regulated globally by government agencies, healthcare authorities, and other regulatory bodies who verify that we are complying with applicable health and safety regulations throughout our products’ life cycle. We work to maintain transparent, constructive, and professional relationships with all applicable regulatory authorities on matters of policy, product submission, compliance, and product performance. The requirements we meet include design controls, marketing approvals, good manufacturing practices, vigilance systems, clinical studies, and other relevant product regulations, standards, and normative documents specified by these agencies.

    At Advanced Bionics, the safety and hearing experience of recipients and the reliability of our products are prime concerns, and we are committed to continuous reliability improvement. Details can be found in the annual Advanced Bionics 2021 Global Implant Reliability Report.

  • Responsible supply chain

    Sonova operates within a highly integrated business model: all manufacturing centers are owned by Sonova. Our own manufacturing operations extend from fully automated processes, such as hybrid circuit production, to highly skilled manual work, such as assembly of hearing aids and cochlear implants. Over 90% of our hearing aids are produced in the APAC region at our owned operation centers in Vietnam and China. Cochlear implants are produced at our operations center in Valencia, United States.

    Our suppliers are mainly high-tech design and component makers, or original equipment manufacturers with a high degree of automation. Sonova’s relations with suppliers are guided by the Sonova Group Supplier Principles (SGSP). The SGSP are based on a range of international standards, customer requirements, and industry characteristics. These principles are non-negotiable; they are the first basis of contact with possible suppliers. Once a supplier has been approved as a Sonova partner, the SGSPs, the General Conditions of Purchase, as well as the Sonova Code of Conduct are incorporated into all development and supply agreements.

    The SGSPs require suppliers to put in place and maintain systems that ensure:

    • healthy and safe working environments;
    • respectful and dignified working conditions;
    • environmentally friendly production; and
    • legal and ethical behavior.
  • Human rights and labor practices

    Sonova respects and supports human rights. This commitment extends throughout our worldwide operations and along our entire value chain. It is reflected in our Code of Conduct and Group Supplier Principles (SGSP) and embedded in our company culture. In 2021/22 we developed the Sonova People Policy, a global policy providing a framework for our human rights due diligence.

    Sonova is formally committed to maintaining high standards of business ethics and integrity in accordance with the law, as well as recognizes human rights and labor standards as outlined in international human rights frameworks.

    Sonova signed the UN Global Compact in 2016, endorsing its ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption. All employees of the Sonova Group, as well as its business partners, are expected to comply with the Compact’s principles.

  • Business ethics and legal compliance

    Sonova’s Code of Conduct defines general principles for ethical behavior; it applies to all employees of the Sonova Group, all its subsidiaries, and any contractors or vendors while they are performing work for the Sonova Group.

    Sonova is committed to high standards of integrity in dealing with its business partners and to compliance with all applicable anti-bribery laws, including the Swiss Criminal Code, the UK Bribery Act, and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

    Sonova’s Global Competition Law Policy describes the basic principles of fair competition in doing business. All Sonova employees worldwide must comply with the principles it sets out. 

  • Data privacy and digital ethics

    Sonova protects the confidentiality and integrity of the data it holds, including the data of employees, customers, patients, and business partners using technical and organizational means. We adhere to applicable data protection laws and regulations. We closely monitor developments in data protection law and incorporate its principles into our business processes and product design. We continue evolving our data protection program to meet the changing demands of the digital environment.

    At Sonova, protecting our information assets is a priority. We are committed to securing digital and non-digital files, records, and information to prevent unauthorized access, modification, and loss. Sonova’s IT and cyber security is supported by guidelines issued by the Vice President Corporate IT, who oversees the company’s information and cyber security and acts as Chief Information Officer (CIO), reporting directly to the Group CFO.

    A Digital Ethics Committee is tasked with the establishment and supervision of a compliance regime for digital ethics matters in the context of new technologies and/or innovative methods of processing data.

  • Corporate governance

    At Sonova, corporate governance is based upon, and structured to conform with, relevant standards and practices. The company meets its legal duties under the Swiss Code of Obligations, the SIX Swiss Exchange Directive on Information relating to Corporate Governance, and the standards defined in the Swiss Code of Best Practice for Corporate Governance. Information on the Board of Directors, its committees and the Management Board is described in detail in the compensation report and the corporate governance section of the current Annual Report.

  • Ethical marketing and sales practices

    Sonova strictly adheres to ethical marketing practices in all our businesses and takes active steps to prevent inappropriate practices or false claims. We ensure that our advertising, packaging, and promotional materials provide accurate, balanced, and non-misleading information. This commitment is laid out in our Group Code of Conduct and further refined in policies, guidelines, and standard operating procedures, e.g. on claims management.

  • Taxes

    Sonova is a Swiss-based multinational enterprise, with operations almost entirely headquartered in the canton of Zurich where the Group develops, manufactures, and distributes products marketed under multiple brands. Sonova operates in more than 100 countries and owns local wholesale distribution and audiological care subsidiaries in over 30 countries. With this business structure, Sonova’s tax contribution encompasses various direct and indirect, corporate, and employee taxes, as well as customs duties, that make a significant contribution to societies around the world.

    Sonova is committed to the highest level of tax compliance and directs its international flow of goods in line with all applicable tax regulations. Sonova’s tax approach is fully compliant with the spirit as well as the letter of local tax laws and regulations, reporting and filing obligations in all countries of operation as well as in complete alignment with relevant international standards.

  • Public policy

    As a general rule, Sonova does not allow donations to political parties. This principle is stipulated in our Global Anti-Bribery Policy. 

    Sonova actively participates in associations and external initiatives to share its specialist knowledge and to ensure highest quality standards for hearing instruments and cochlear implants.

  • Animal welfare

    As a manufacturer of medical devices, Sonova is required by regulatory authorities to demonstrate the biological safety of any product with body contact by complying with the international standard ISO 10993-1. According to this standard, animal tests need to be considered in biological safety evaluations; in some cases, they cannot be completely avoided. Sonova also provides components of cochlear implants to cochlear implant research centers and universities, where these are tested on animals for basic research concerning e.g. safety, feasibility or efficacy of new technologies. Sonova does not carry out any animal testing in-house and only works together with third parties. We are committed to the “Three Rs” principle – replacement, reduction, and refinement – to limit animal testing as far as possible.