ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
“Diaceutics is committed, through its culture, processes and business activities, to ensuring that it has a positive impact on all of its stakeholders. These include our customers and customer partners, our shareholders, patients and communities, the environment, our employees and the wider Diaceutics network”.
Diaceutics is at an early stage in its ESG journey, and this is our first Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) Statement, which is aimed at encompassing all aspects of ESG and ensuring that we set a strategy that sees our business contributing to society in an ethical, sustainable, and well governed manner for the benefit of all stakeholders.
It outlines the actions taken and business practices adopted to address this overriding purpose, along with our policies, which go hand in hand, providing the foundation for our ESG journey. This statement will be reviewed throughout 2022 and in each subsequent year, to measure progress and to scope further objectives and outcomes to improve our performance in these three important areas.
Environment and Sustainability
Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time and we at Diaceutics are conscious of our role within this. We have appraised our environmental impact and our aim is to provide effective environmental awareness and controls, seeking to continually improve all aspects of our environmental performance, as far as economically feasible. This statement forms the basis for setting environmental objectives and outcomes that will continually improve the manner in which we operate.
Actions and Business Practices
- Diaceutics’ operational model has been founded on working from home for our employees and was further embedded during the COVID-19 pandemic, with projects and presentations being undertaken online and the use of remote systems to manage customer and internal relationships. Whilst the occupation of the new Belfast headquarters has seen a return to the office for some employees, the majority of the workforce continues to work from home. This impacts on our travel related environmental air pollution and will continue post the COVID-19 pandemic, being reflected in our travel policy, which encourages essential travel only, for environmental reasons. The use of airlines which provide carbon offset will be encouraged wherever possible.
- Diaceutics is not a significant consumer of water in its business activities.
- Diaceutics took up occupation of its new Belfast headquarters at Dataworks at Kings Hall Health and Wellbeing Park in August 2021, a new green building, with an “A” rated energy certificate. We are engaging with an energy performance assessor in Northern Ireland to undertake a scenario analysis for a programme to provide further energy efficiencies, with the aim of reducing energy and carbon usage on this site.
- There are several recycling initiatives which are facilitated and encouraged wherever possible within the building, including the provision of DXRX drinking flasks, boiling hot water taps, and low flush toilets. Diaceutics’ facilities management partner CBRE arranges regular confidential wastepaper recycling with secure recycle bins housed externally for all recyclable items apart from confidential wastepaper.
- The four other Group sites worldwide in the Republic of Ireland, the USA, China and Singapore are all small, low occupancy offices used for data and implementation services.
We are cognisant of our social responsibilities, both in the promotion of inclusivity and diversity, equality of pay and opportunity, the health and safety and wellbeing of our workforce and in supporting and benefitting the wider community. We are committed to building on our existing policies and developing further policies and procedures that enhance and improve the social outcomes for these important stakeholders.
Diaceutics’ goal, working alongside other healthcare stakeholders, is ultimately aimed at providing earlier and more accurate diagnosis for patients, accelerating patients’ reach to precision medicines which, in turn, leads to better patient healthcare outcomes. This is manifested through faster testing, better turnaround times, quicker positive identification and a higher number of patients treated, benefitting individual patients and the patient community, as a whole. The DXRX Test Signal product introduced in 2021 exemplifies the direct link to patients and improved patient outcomes.
Actions and Business Practices
- Diaceutics is global and diverse by virtue of the geographies in which it operates. We have introduced a diversity training programme, the “Global Diversity Module” into our compliance training for 2022 and are investigating the attainment of the Northern Ireland “Diversity Mark” accreditation. An equality and diversity module are included in our leadership training programme, and the Group’s Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Policy forms part of the onboarding process for new employees on induction.
- Northern Ireland Fair Employment legislation requires the Company to monitor and report annually to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, the gender and community background of all current employees, applicants and new appointees in Northern Ireland. The Diaceutics’ Inclusion and Diversity Strategy will also monitor and report on these metrics Group wide.
- Diaceutics’ annual mentoring programme and City and Guilds accredited Diaceutics EFFECTive Leaders programme both support and encourage employees in their personal and career development within the Group. The recently introduced EXCO sponsorship scheme provides the Group’s account managers with individual EXCO support to help maximise the opportunities and success at the highest levels within the Group’s customers. A further job shadowing/rotation initiative is also underway to provide employees with a broader experience of other roles within the Group.
- In 2021 the Company launched a Share Incentive Plan (SIP) in which Group employees are entitled to participate. UK employees participate though an HMRC approved share matching scheme and non- UK employees though a share option structure. The SIP enables employees to purchase shares up to a value of £1,800 in the Company which are initially matched by the Company on a two for one basis for the first year, until April 2022 and thereafter on a one for one basis. As at 31 December 2021, 54 UK and 19 global employees had participated in the scheme representing 55% of total Group employees.
- In addition to this, the Performance Management Framework (“PMF”) process has been enhanced to include Succession Planning which is driven by the Individual Development Plan (“IPD”) element of the PMF discussions between the employee and line manager which will empower employees to take control of their professional development.
- We have several engagement initiatives to communicate and support our workforce, including Town Hall presentations which are held at least quarterly, where employee feedback and interaction is encouraged, and updates are presented by the executive directors and other key senior management. The Group’s annual employee survey was completed in 2021 with 96% of respondents reporting that people are treated fairly and with respect and 96% again reporting that they have great confidence in the future of Diaceutics. The HR department holds regular check-ins with employees, during which open and honest conversations are encouraged.
- Optional “Flex days” were introduced in 2021 to allow those employees who have completed their two weeks’ contracted hours in the prior nine days, to take the first and third Fridays off work. This operates throughout the year and is extremely popular, with 92% of the workforce currently opted into Flex days. These Flex days allow employees the option of using this day to enhance their own work life synergy to suit their individual needs.
- The Diaceutics’ “Employee Assistance Programme”, launched in 2020 to foster employee wellbeing in the workplace continued to operate through 2021. This provides support for all employees in many areas including counselling, legal information and services, bereavement support and medical and health risk assessments. Line managers have also been given guidance on how to support staff wellbeing in the workplace via the Return to Office training and COVID-19 Toolkit for Managers which provide links to other external and internal sources.
- In the Belfast office, COVID-19 risk assessments are updated at least every three months, in co-ordination with the COVID-19 work group, with weekly reviews of the COVID-19 standards set by the risk assessments recorded and signed off by the office team. The COVID-19 work group also assesses and monitors the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic within the Group’s wider geographic regions, developing, implementing, and revising procedures to ensure a safe working environment for all our employees.
Communities, Charity Support and the Wider Patient Community
- Diaceutics has developed a Training Academy for student placements and graduates. We are continuing to grow this by developing new and building upon existing relationships with local universities via lunch and learn sessions, presenting to students, aiming to support the local community and affording the opportunity of careers advice. There is also a dedicated section on the Diaceutics website for graduate and placement opportunities which will be further enhanced with interview skills and CV and application form tips.
- Five students from Queen’s University, Belfast participated in a 12-week student placement programme in Q4 2021 as part of the above initiative with three of them currently participating in our Training Academy for Student Placements and Graduates on a year-long graduate placement. Further intakes are planned for 2022.
- Diaceutics supported a colleague’s running team in Spain which raised funds for cancer research. They took part in Trail Solidari Alcoi (Alicante, Spain), where the proceeds go to the Scholarship created by + QUEUNTRAIL and ASIECA (Spanish Association of Researchers in Cancer) for young Spanish researchers, who also hold an annual international Meeting of Young Researchers in Cancer of the Valencian Community. £500 was raised in 2021 by one executive for the Belfast based Children’s Cancer Unit Charity.
- A Charity Working Group has been formed for 2022 with fortnightly meetings, with the aim of targeting local and global charities and providing a structured means for the Group to support those charitable causes most closely linked to the Company and its employees.
- Diaceutics’ mantra is “Better Testing, Better Treatment” and this is manifested in the products and services we offer, accelerating patients’ reach to Precision Medicine which, in turn, leads to better patient healthcare outcomes.
Social, Cultural and Ethical Policies
- The Company sees a strong ethical culture as an important asset and has invested in this aspect over many years. Diaceutics’ core values of Empowerment, Foresight, Fun, Entrepreneurship, Communication and Trust, together known as the Diaceutics EFFECT are core to our culture. Diaceutics has a dedicated working group of 19 Culture Ambassadors, who ensure that the corporate culture which was embedded in its policy and processes remains at the forefront of leadership thinking within its principal executive and operating groups.
- An Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Policy has been in place for some time and a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy is currently being developed to further enhance, promote and celebrate the various initiatives that are currently taking place within the company.
- At Diaceutics we are committed to maintaining high ethical standards throughout our business and ensuring that these are reflected in policies and procedures to support this commitment. These include an Equality, Inclusion and Diversity policy; Human Rights Policy; Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy; Whistleblowing policy and, an Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement. Our critical vendor assessment policy for new core suppliers, includes a request for information as to their code of ethics, thereby seeking to ensure alignment of their culture with ours, and assessments of existing suppliers is carried out as part of the regular risk review process.
- A Code of Conduct for Employees, which will also include ethics and ethical behaviour, is currently being developed.
Diaceutics is dedicated to having robust governance protocols and procedures throughout all aspects of our business to manage risk, operate high standards of conduct and to protect and grow the business for the benefit of shareholders and other stakeholders. A vital part of Diaceutics’ business is the development and evolution of its DXRX platform. We are excited to be part of a growing digital and data driven sector which is critical to the growth of the Company, but are equally committed to the safeguarding, access, privacy, ethical use, and security of all data.
Actions and Business Practices
- Our Diaceutics board is well balanced on all aspects of independence, knowledge of the Company’s technology, sector and public company experience and professional standing to allow it to discharge its duties and responsibilities; pursue the Company’s strategic goals and address anticipated issues in the foreseeable future. The Diaceutics business is managed for the benefit of shareholders as a whole, with no individual or individuals overreaching in the decision-making process.
- Diaceutics’ financial statements are prepared on a going concern basis and in accordance with international accounting standards in conformity with the Companies Act 2006 applicable to companies reporting under IFRS. The company adopts IFRS accounting standards wherever appropriate.
- There are comprehensive procedures for budgeting and planning, for monitoring and reporting to the board of directors on business performance against those budgets and for forecasting expected performance over the financial year.
- Regular risk review meetings take place at OPCO level, to assess various aspects of risk to the business, with material findings reported to EXCO management on a monthly basis, by way of a risk register.
- Diaceutics has a dedicated legal department which monitors regulatory development and has recently formed a new department for Quality and Compliance to formulate and implement changes required to Diaceutics’ systems and processes. The Quality and Compliance department has implemented a set of mandatory compliance training modules for Diaceutics Group companies which include, amongst other things, data protection, anti-bribery, cyber security, and remote working concerns. Further department-specific and other appropriate Group wide training sessions pertaining to various aspects of the Group’s business and infrastructures are being developed and rolled out on an ongoing basis. The department is also in the process of implementing an ISO 9001 Framework (Quality Management System) (QMS).
- Systems and processes are in place to ensure compliance with applicable data regulations and to protect against data loss. Recently, the Company has recruited a Cyber Security Officer to assist the Quality and Compliance and IT departments with their information security projects (including personnel training sessions), which will further strengthen the group companies’ IT measures and attain the company vision of information security.
- Diaceutics is working towards robust practice models to minimise risk, combining prevention technology with the continuous monitoring of the security framework. Diaceutics is also in the process of attaining ISO27001 (Information Security Management System) and CSA Star (Cloud Security) certifications.
Governance and Business Policies and Procedures
We have in place several policies and procedures which support the operation of our business, with further policies in development to support Diaceutics as we evolve.
- IT Security, Resources and Communication Policy
- Access Control Policy
- Incident Response Plan
- Vendor Assessment Procedure
- Data Protection Impact Assessment Procedure
- Social Media Policy
- Matters reserved to the Board
Further information about how the directors are fulfilling their duties to promote the success of the Company including the interests of our key stakeholders, is set out within the Section 172 section of the Annual Reports and Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2021 and the Company’s QCA Corporate Governance Statement.