Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Korea improves record on pervasive ethics problems

June 2010

South Korea has begun to improve its business ethics, but the issue remains one of the biggest affecting the country’s corporate climate.

That’s the conclusion of research from the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), which notes an ‘array of initiatives’ to deal with the continuing problems of bribery, nepotism and accountability.

The IBE says South Korea, which was ranked behind Chile and Botswana last year in Transparency International’s corruption index, has seen improvements since it set up an Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission in 2008 and passed anti-corruption laws, which, among other things, allow the confiscation of assets resulting from corruption.

In addition, the government has implemented new reporting requirements for companies on the Korean stock exchange and introduced legislation for shareholders – increasing liabilities for owners involved in management and giving greater rights to minority shareholders.

The corporate world has made headway too. Many companies now have a code of ethics, which have become ‘commonplace’ in large organizations, while the uptake on international accounting standards is increasing.

Business ethics training is also becoming embedded. More than 90 per cent of large South Korean companies professed to provide it to employees.

The IBE concludes that ‘generally, the business ethics climate is improving’ and that corporate responsibility ‘has risen up the agenda of both government and corporate South Korea’.

Institute of Business Ethics | Asia | Government role

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