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It is clearly of pivotal importance that the professed and advertised value system and ethical standards of conduct of the company are in fact applied and lived in practice. Ongoing recent well publicised corporate deficiencies in actual ethical performance and the profound continuing negative consequences should serve as a salutary warning to boards of directors and executives of the importance of getting this right.

Historically, ethics management in companies was either non-existent or resembled something like the following: “Our company values are ……, and we have a code of ethics signed by our directors and employees.” This is rather superficial and provided little insight into how ethics and values are embedded and actively managed in an organisation. By implication, the organisation is saying “We have dealt with ethics, now let’s move on to more important matters”. The increased demand for transparency, accountability and corporate responsibility requires a holistic view of ethics management, supported by a robust framework.

Deloitte assists companies in embedding a robust ethics management framework, by focusing on what matters, where it matters. What are the important drivers for the increased focus on ethics management?

  • King III, Companies Act and related legislation, including potential personal liability for directors and executives
  • Mandate and activities of Social & Ethics Committee
  • Integrated and Sustainability Reporting requiring companies to report on the ethical culture and for that information to be transparent
  • Companies ethical culture can be easily compromised through social media, data leakages, cyber hacking
  • Changing needs, beliefs and values of the employee e.g. younger vs. older employee

Directors of companies are obliged to promote the best interest of the company – this includes the collective best interest of shareholders, as well as the interest of others, the community, employees, customers and suppliers. Deloitte assist companies to implement and embed a robust ethics management framework.

The ability of any organisation to create and sustain value in the long term is underpinned by how the value system and ethics of the organisation is practiced. A robust value system, sufficiently embedded in the day-to-day operations of a business, forms the foundation of an organisation’s business model. ‘Tone at the top’ is one of the most critical drivers – leaders who visibly demonstrate active ownership and report on actions taken assist organisations to promote transparency and enhance reputation. Companies must engage with the communities in which employees live and work. Consumers, as well as employees are more passionate than ever about being responsible citizens, and have strong expectations of the organisations they interact with.

Key contacts

Pramesh Bhana
Africa Leader
RA Governance, Risk and Oversight
Tel: +27 (0) 11 209 6337

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