By Manish Asarkar, Legal & Compliance Head – India, Black & Veatch Private Limited
Ethics and Compliance should be the foundation for doing business in any country. It doesn’t matter which part of the world we are doing business in, the principles and core values remain the same. It takes many years to build a strong company with good reputation, brand and trust, but it takes one mistake by an employee in some part of the world to damage the reputation and the brand value of a company, specifically global companies. And that’s the importance of having strong Ethics and Compliance program for any company.
The corruption perception index of many developing countries, which are the emerging markets for the global companies being very high, the challenge those companies may face in such countries is to ensure that all its employees together with consultants, suppliers, and contractors engaged by it understand the company’s Ethics & Compliance Management Program & Code of Conduct with special focus around improper payments while dealing with Government undertakings / agencies. Having taken into consideration the nature of business and sectors in which these global companies are operational, it becomes more essential to enforce or drive the core value robustly.
At the same time it is also essential to reinforce the Ethics & Compliance Management Program & Code of Conduct so that these core values would always remain on the top in the minds of employees.
Ethical decision making process, if followed robustly, will certainly minimize the ethics issue in the business.
- Get the knowledge about the facts: – As a first step, It is very essential for any person to first understand the complete facts. To understand the facts is basis and foundation for taking the ethically correct decision. The complete fact gives an idea about the issue and also gives right direction to the thought process.
- Look for the right people: – As a second step, after understanding the facts, it is essential to get in touch with the right people. Those people may be within the organization or outsider. Those people may be technical or commercial or legal or they may be a subject matter expert. Those right people will give an expert advice which in turn will act as an input to the thought process towards taking the ethically correct decision. It is essential to be transparent with these people in order to get the right advice.
- To know the applicable existing laws: – As a third step, it is critical to understand the applicable laws and regulations to the issue before us. This will ensure compliance of the applicable laws and regulations and save us from the violation of those laws and regulations.
- To whom we are accountable: – As a forth step, it is essential to understand for whom we are working, who are those stakeholders and purpose of our existence. Those may be clients, employees, shareholders, business partners or for that matter also the nation. If one has a clear understanding about this and keeps this always top of the mind, decision making becomes ethically correct. It is essential to keep in mind that there is an element of trust between the stakeholders and decision maker.
- Core values of company: – As a fifth step, it is essential to understand and keep in mind the core values of the company, which are non-negotiable and non-pardonable. The values will act like a holy Bible for taking any decision.
- Be objective: – Decision should be based on the above attributes, facts and merits of the issue. There should not be any conflict or subjectively in making the decision.
An ethical decision making process is transparent and helps in taking the well-informed decisions which in turn are flawless. It avoids the risk taking unilateral decisions.
(1) encourages improving the collaboration, trust, and inclusion;
(2) shows accountability towards our stakeholders;
(3) reduces the resistance from the stakeholders in implementation of the decision taken and improves their ownership to the decision taken;
(4) helps in explaining the logic and rational behind taking the decision.
Note:- This article is based on my learnings in the course of my employments over the years and is collation of my thoughts on the subject. The contents of the article being generic in nature may resemble with Code of Conduct or Ethics Policy of many companies.
Author: Manish Asarkar
Legal & Compliance Head – India, Black & Veatch Private Limited
Manish has a broad legal background with more than 20 years + experience which includes working with a leading Indian and multinational organizations like, Geoffrey Manners, Raymond, Siemens, United Technologies, Schneider Electric and currently Black & Veatch.