Multinationals pledge to be ethical leadersFebruary 2009
Seventeen companies with a combined turnover of $1trillion (£737billion) have become founder members of a new body on business ethics.
Firms that join the US-based Business Ethics Leadership Alliance agree to abide by a ‘global ethics pact’ that will be drawn up over the next few months by the founders.
They will also have to operate according to the four tenets of the Alliance’s Declaration of Ethical Principles, which require companies to:
counter ‘fraud, corruption, bribery, and deceit’
create a culture that ‘encourages dialogue on ethical issues, and discloses information in a full, accurate, and timely manner’
identify and address potential conflicts of interest and ‘appearances of impropriety’ that could undermine confidence in business practices
conduct business ‘with an emphasis on quality, customer protection, environmental sustainability, and integrity in the supply chain’.
Each member will have to submit to a yearly independent audit of their performance against the principles, and will be required to make ‘urgent’ responses to any inquiries or complaints submitted by the public to a ‘global ethics reporting hotline’ that will be set up shortly. Companies that fail to do so could face disciplinary action, including expulsion.
Founder members are mainly US-based and include PepsiCo, Wal-Mart, Accenture, Dell, Fluor, and Jones Lang LaSalle. However, the Alliance wants to recruit participants from all over the world. Wal-Mart, among others, has pledged to try to persuade some of its larger suppliers to sign up.
Administration will be provided by the Ethisphere Institute, a New York-based think-tank on business ethics and corporate responsibility.
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