Transparency, a necessary investment in organisations with returns in the futureVíctor Benedito Torrecilla
Currently, there is a growing concern in all organisations around the world regarding transparency issues, a concept that responds to the extent to which every organization accounts for its way of acting to its employees and concerned third parties (customers, suppliers, authorities, and so on) related to their insertion in society.
Whether for aspects such as internationalization and the globalisation of markets or for other aspects such as the fight against international terrorism, and whether we are talking about private or public companies, non-profit organisations, institutions and Governments, all require an organization of their human and material resources for the proper development of their activity and the fulfilment of their goals.
Therefore the transparency of organisations has to begin with their management and the guidelines they set, so that they are able to demonstrate ethical behaviour in which the decisions taken are fair beyond the economic results obtained in their management.
It is in this context, in which measures such as the person responsible for regulatory compliance and penal compliance, the existence of an ethical code, the existence of a complaints channel, the internal audit function and the implementation of periodic training, form the basic pillars that help them act with integrity, commitment and transparency within the organization, eliminating and/or mitigating bad practices.
Every entity should promote the respectful treatment of people and respect general values that should be inspire in the behaviour of all its members
However, for such measures to be effective, we require:
On one hand, an evaluation and continuous improvement, which will increase the capacity of reaction and intervention in response to new risks and/or new needs detected arising from experience, as well as social, economic, political and/or cultural changes that vary with the passage of time.
On the other hand, an adequate awareness and ethical culture; given that without it, the above measures remain not worth the paper they are written on
Focusing on the second of these issues, broadly speaking, this ethical culture (which should be a direct reflection in the Code of Ethics), has to regulate behaviours which are allowed and which are prohibited in the organization, so that they encompass not only the scope of relations between the entity and its employees, but also that of its relations with customers, suppliers and the entity's commitments to society.
For this reason, all Code of Ethics should focus on the following as their main points:
Every entity should promote the respectful treatment of people and respect general values that should be inspire in the behaviour of all its members. In connection with the above, any form of physical, psychological or moral abuse or authority, as well as any other conduct that may intimidate or offend the individual rights of people should be rejected
The professional and personal development of all employees should be promoted, guaranteeing equality of opportunity without distinction of sex, race, religion or nationality
Every entity should promote the adoption of occupational health and safety policies, instigating activities in compliance with the established norms to guarantee the health of employees and safety in the work environment
A spirit of cooperation between employees should be promoted so that the knowledge of and resources of each of them can be made available to the rest
Employees have to accurately and honestly reflect financial or non-financial transactions as well as events in the company's records, in accordance with prevailing accounting and/or commercial law
Information relating to the company is one of the most valuable business assets and therefore it has to be subject to special protection, all employees being aware of the confidentiality of certain information
Other critical assets of the company are its image and its reputation, the building of which being a long and expensive process, but that has its return, as it allows preserving the trust of shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, authorities and society in general
There also has to be a clear awareness in every entity that under no circumstances can gifts or bribes be offered to obtain favourable decisions from third parties. Neither can these gifts be received when the company that has to make that decision
In this respect, a gift received by a politician has to be badly regarded, such as a gift that, for example, the person responsible for buying in a company obtains for sourcing certain office material (for example paper) from a particular supplier, rather from others whose qualities and prices could be more competitive
There has to be a total commitment in all hierarchical structures of the company in relation to a "zero" tolerance of irregular practices in relations with customers, suppliers, competitors, authorities, that can lead to committing crimes, including the offense of money laundering
Quality, innovation and independence towards clients and suppliers ensures a rich and satisfactory relationship with them, which also allows the building of long term relationships based on trust and fulfilment of commitments
As previously stated, every company has to have a commitment to society, focusing on the development of initiatives and activities based on the training of employees and the implementation of corporate social responsibility activities. Likewise, all relations with competent authorities, regulators and public administrations has to be carried out under the principles of cooperation and transparency
Last but not least, we should note that the activities of any company has to be carried out in a manner that respects the environment and complies scrupulously with the applicable legislation
There also has to be a clear awareness in every entity that under no circumstances can gifts or bribes be offered
In conclusion, we can say that to achieve an effective commitment and transparency on the part of the organisations, a clear mission is required, as well as defined strategies in relation to the set of relations with employees, clients, suppliers and competent authorities. As a result of this and its continuous improvement, there will be a return through the future development of the organization that will be translated not only in improving economic results but in the strengthening of its image and reputation.