13. Lea Rankinen
44, Finland, SVP Sustainability, S-Group
Lea Rankinen serves faithfully and resolutely as social responsibility watchdog at Finland’s leading retailer, the S-Group. In her role as Senior Vice President for Sustainability, Rankinen represents the organization’s corporate conscience and ensures that operations in the home market as well in supplier countries can stand up to scrutiny on human rights and other ethical issues.
Rankinen has ably executed the firm’s sustainability strategy, and safeguarded its corporate responsibility and ethical codes – a particularly demanding assignment for a company that sources many of its products from territories where worker protections are often weak or altogether lacking. The role has involved close monitoring of its supply chain, enforcing CSR clauses in supplier contracts, and using external auditors to monitor external suppliers.
In 2013, when a report by the NGO Finnwatch flagged instances of forced labor by a Thai supplier, the company met the whistleblower and affected workers and eventually terminated its relationship with the supplier. When the supplier sued the whistleblower, S-Group testified on his behalf. Rankinen continues to lead the group in its quest for transparency and sustainable practices in its supplier network.