Governments, business, civil society and individual citizens are highly interconnected and interdependent. 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’ expectations 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.
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.
Owing to the difficult prevailing economic climate, the Board, via its Audit and Risk Committees, is cognisant that ethics-related risks like conflict of interests, bribery and corruption should remain focus areas. The Group’s ethical risk mitigation processes include a whistle-blowing service, management reports and the like. Education and communication relevant to these risks are a cornerstone of preventative processes.
The whistle-blowing service, Tip-offs Anonymous, is managed by an independent third party and serves as a primary tool utilised by employees in diverse countries of operation to register concerns regarding non-compliance with policies, fraud and other matters relating to acceptable business conduct.
The reports received are investigated by the Internal Audit function and shared with the Board. Issues reported relate mainly to (i) failure to follow established business processes, (ii) unfair human resources practices, and (iii) unethical business conduct. Corrective measures included retraining on the principles and requirements of the Code and disciplinary action was taken where necessary. This included dismissal where the circumstances so warranted.
On an annual basis, as required by the Code, Group employees who have outside interests are required to declare them. Employees are also encouraged to declare any gifts that they may have accepted or given, further underpinning the Group’s ethos of doing business ethically.