ECONOMY

Ethics and companies, the unexpected results

According to IBE, and similarly to the UK respondents, the level of investment in company ethics programs appears to be on an upward trend in Continental Europe. Over the last three years, it has increased (82%) or, at least stayed the same (14%). Like the UK respondents, 100% of the Continental European companies who took part in the survey stated that they have ‘processes, policies and tools for ensuring that it operates in accordance with its values/business principles’ (i.e. an ethics program). When asked ‘what are the main elements of your company’s ethics program?’ findings suggest that there are similar proportions of UK and Continental European respondents who have a code of ethics, employee training and internal reporting systems for ethics.

100% of Continental European respondents have a code of ethics and, like the FTSE 350 companies and findings from 2010, the majority have had one for 5 years or more. It is most common for the Continental European companies to have had programs in place for 5-9 years. The survey findings suggest that ethics is increasingly playing a part within company recruitment processes in Continental European organizations. 74% of respondents said that it is used, compared to 63% of FTSE 350 respondents. The figure for Continental Europe is up from 56% in 2010.

Conformity to the code of ethics (or equivalent) being included in contracts of employment by companies has also risen since 2010 from half (50%) to nearly 3/4 (74%) in 2013. This is similar to the UK findings (77%) (see Graph 32). Again, similar to the UK, when asked whether performance appraisals in their company include ethics, the Continental European respondents predominantly answered ‘yes’.

When asked ‘whether a breach of the code of ethics (or equivalent) had led to a disciplinary procedure in the last 3 years’, less than 2/3 (58%) of Continental European respondents stated that it had, compared to nearly 3/4 (74%) of UK ones. This Continental European figure is similar to 2010 when it was 54%. Also similar to findings in 2010 (80%) and akin to the FTSE 350 companies surveyed (88%), a very high percentage (90%) of Continental European respondents screen their suppliers and other business partners for their ethical standards. As in 2010, both the majority of the UK and Continental Europe respondents say they monitor the effectiveness of their code or ethics program – 79% and 78% respectively in 2013.

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