Ethics are important – but business is ignoring the fact

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I've come across a press release from Integrity Interactive on the 2007 European Corporate Integrity Survey. It says:

99% of European companies have in place either a code of conduct, that prescribes rules about what people can or cannot do, or a statement of a set of values and principles that people are expected to adhere to. The report, published by Integrity Interactive, a provider of web-based tools for managing and mitigating corporate ethics and compliance risk and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) however revealed that only 50% ensure that all employees are made to read these.

It concludes:

With high profile cases such as Parmalat, the report revealed that 77% of companies expected that the number and importance of ethics and compliance risks will increase in the next few years. On the back of this increase 86% anticipate increases in regulatory demand for ethics and compliance programmes. Meanwhile, the key risks that companies said they were devoting most time and resources to were cited as competition & unfair selling practices (46%), ethical company culture (42%) and financial integrity (41%).

This is why the Tax Justice Network is shortly to launch a Code of Conduct for Taxation.

But it's also why we promote mandatory disclosure to limit risk. This is exactly what could have helped disclose practices like those of Parmalat. In combination we'd agree that with the broad thrust of the conclusion of this press release:

Training on codes and policies and the evaluation of levels of understanding of these, play a significant role in protecting a business against scandal and without it many could be heading for trouble.