Wherever we are, we try to ensure the safety of all those working in our supply chain and that they always work in healthy and safe environments. So, it concerns us when it's indicated that things didn’t go the way they should have.
Over the past several days, news reports in various markets have focused on the presence of IKEA in Belarus prior to 2022, including allegations of the use of forced prison labour connected to sub-suppliers. We, at IKEA, take these reports seriously, and are concerned. We are investigating the claims. At this time, we have no evidence to substantiate the claims made in the news reports. We are clear across all markets where we are present that human rights abuses, such as forced and bonded labour, have no place in our business.
With our long-term approach, we seek to create sustainable change for the better wherever we are present. We take our responsibility seriously to ensure we have embedded processes to identify and minimise risks through robust due diligence processes, including verification by third-party auditors.
In June 2021, we decided to stop all new business development due to the human rights challenges in Belarus and the unpredictable environment. At the same time, we continued to investigate the next step to leave the market without risking the livelihoods of thousands of people we directly or indirectly employed in our supply chain. The war in Ukraine and the international sanctions accelerated these plans. In June 2022, IKEA decided to leave the market and terminate contracts with our suppliers.
While present in Belarus, we carried out regular audits according to our supplier code of conduct IWAY, in combination with the mapping of our supply chain to secure compliance with our requirements. IWAY is mandatory for all suppliers and service providers that work with IKEA and sets clear requirements and ways of working on environmental, social, and working conditions. No remarkable deviations were found during the IWAY audits at the suppliers. While no system is a guarantee against all risks, should we have received indications of misconduct, we would have immediately investigated and acted on them. We always strive to live up to our values and the expectations of those in our supply chain.