Globalisation continues to draw governments, business, civil society and individual citizens into tighter interconnectedness and interdependence. As a result a company’s actions and its interaction with its stakeholders, both internal and external, are potentially more significant than ever before. AECI is no exception and the need to balance diverse stakeholders’ needs shapes the way the Group conducts its business. In an environment of increasingly empowered communities and individuals, social activism and a trust deficit, transparency and accountability are non-negotiable.
CULTIVATING AN ETHICAL CULTURE
An ethical culture is key to driving long-term business value and stakeholders’ support of businesses. To embed such a culture more strongly, training on AECI’s Code of Ethics and Business Conduct (“the Code”) continued across the Group.
Efforts included translation of the Code and supporting material into Zulu and Sotho for employees in South Africa. The translated Code was distributed during training and induction. Further training and marketing of the Code was undertaken by utilising other communication methods, such as e-mail flyers.
Conflict of interests, bribery and corruption were ethics-related risks identified in 2014. Education and communication as to what constitutes unacceptable behaviour continued via a variety of media, including computer-based training and induction programmes. Changing employees’ attitudes and behaviours via these interventions remains a challenge in certain instances and alternatives, as replacements or additional efforts, are evaluated on an on-going basis.
Training continued via manual and electronic processes with respect to Tip-offs Anonymous, a whistleblowing service which is managed by Deloitte on the Group’s behalf. Although the service received a number of bona fide calls in 2014, more than half of the cases reported were Human Capital-related.
In the coming year, renewed efforts will be made to improve employees’ understanding of what channels are available to them for dealing with different categories of concerns they may have in the workplace.
As is standard procedure, all legitimate concerns reported were investigated and the sanction of employees found guilty of unethical or inappropriate behaviour ranged from verbal or written warnings, to dismissal. The investigations and their outcomes are monitored by the Audit Committee.