Globalising a Business Ethics Programme

Publication type: Good practice guide
01 May 2012

Tags: Communication & Engagement, Ethics Programme issues, Treatment of Employees

This practical guide provides advice on assessing whether existing ethics programmes are effective and culturally appropriate and developing and disseminating organisation-wide values and standards to take account of the many cultures in which a business operates, including training which is as culturally relevant to employees worldwide.

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This Guide is intended to assist ethics practitioners to:

  1. Assess the efficacy of their existing ethics programme throughout their operations, and whether or not the programme is culturally appropriate.
  2. Consider how a global ethics function needs to be organised in order to best facilitate all the elements of a global ethics programme.
  3. Draft a code of ethics or modify an existing code to ensure that it is as appropriate and as relevant as possible for all the locations where a company does business.
  4. Develop training on business ethics and tailor that training as necessary to make it culturally relevant to employees worldwide.

It is important that an organisation clearly communicates its values, commitments and standards wherever it operates.

A major challenge for multinational organisations is ensuring that the local context is taken into account when designing a global ethics programme to ensure that the messages are consistent at both a global and local level. Yet making ethics programmes effective on a global scale can pose a major challenge when they are perceived locally to be irrelevant or inappropriate.

Many companies launch their programmes from their head office without proper adaptation to the international locations in which they do business. Approaching cultural differences with sensitivity and open mindedness may not only reduce conflict, but also improve the overall efficacy of the ethics programme, even within the home country.

This Guide will assist organisations to effectively globalise their business ethics programme and disseminate organisation-wide values and standards in a manner that respects, where possible, and takes account of the many cultures where it does business.

One of the most significant challenges when globalising ethics and compliance programmes is the belief by local employees that the company is trying to impose foreign values upon them, often referred to as ‘cultural imperialism.’ Politics and international policy among nations can serve to solidify this perception. A related problem is the belief that the company is dismissive of local culture and customs.

Globalising a Business Ethics Programme

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Globalising a Business Ethics Programme
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