Ten steps to good business ethics

22 May 2017

Business compliance and ethical trading not only keeps your organisation on the right side of the law, but can also promote your product's or service's appeal to customers by creating a positive perception.

Read on to discover some practical ideas on how to embrace business compliance.

  1. Have a clear policy statement and live its values

Develop a credible statement outlining the values of your organisation and promoting ethical business which is endorsed and practised by the leadership of the organisation. Investigate the use of non-executive directors to measure compliance at board level and have compliance as a standing item on the agenda.

  1. Have clear procedures in place

This will endorse your policy statement and will help employees understand what is expected of them, particularly regarding facilitation payments and bribes. Build procedures (including a whistleblowing policy) into the organisation’s quality or business management systems. Keep these processes distinct from the grievance procedure.

  1. Provide independent advice and guidance

Appoint a senior executive within the organisation (preferably reachable 24/7) and mandate that employees seek advice and ask permission before making any payments that may be construed as facilitation payment, or worse, bribes. Keep an audit trail of conversations by note and/or by email. Make sure that any demands for payment are recorded and, if necessary, reported to the appropriate authorities in the country concerned.

  1. Provide training

Ensure that your policy and procedures are communicated effectively to your staff. Audit whether they have been trained appropriately and provide regular audited refresher sessions at least once a year.

  1. Adopt group wide responsibility

Ensure that you provide staff with the right level of support and adopt an open and consultative approach. If staff feel that they are threatened in difficult situations, make them aware that the organisation will protect them.

  1. Review overseas agents

Implement a regular review of overseas agents and move them away from commission-based contracts. Check the credentials of those you are working with overseas if you suspect that they may be agents taking commission. Consider building relationships with partner companies rather than individuals.

  1. Review corporate hospitality

Conduct a review of the provision and acceptance of hospitality in the business. Create a hospitality log or register to highlight the giving and accepting of “lavish” hospitality or a high frequency of acceptance to or from certain parties.

  1. Develop know-how

Keep up to date with customer initiatives in this area. Work with your customers and under the umbrella of large organisations if possible. Look out for advice from the Department for International Trade and the Serious Fraud Office and your legal adviser.

  1. Widen your horizons

Do not confine the issue to bribery and corruption; review the whole area of corporate social responsibility and use it to demonstrate and uphold your company’s values. Encourage employees to create, get involved with and support initiatives.

  1.  Add value to your business

Think of ways that your ethical approach to business differentiates you from the competition and use this for competitive advantage. Where financially possible, explore where you can exceed statutory requirements.

By implementing steps such as those outlined above your organisation will be well on the way to embedding ethical behaviour. To find out how DMH Stallard could help you, please contact me on the details below.

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