The global business standard codex: 1. The Fiduciary Principle (Diligence, Loyalty). 2. The Property Principle (Protection, Theft). 3. The Reliability Principle (Contracts Premises, Commitments). 4. The Transparency Principle (Thruthfulness, Deception, Disclosure, Candor, Objectivity). 5. The Dignity Principle (Respect for the Individual, Health and Safety, Privacy and Confidentiality, Use of Force, Associatiation & Expression, Learning & Development, Employment Security). 6. The Fairness Principle (Fair Dealing, Fair Treatment, Fair Competition, Fair Process). . The Citizenship Principle (Law & Regulation, Public Goods, Cooperation with Authorities, Political Noninvolvement, Civic Contribution, . 8. The Responsiveness Principle (Addressing Concerns, Public Involvement). Codes of conduct have long been a feature of corporate life. Today, they are arguably a legal necessity—at least for public companies with a presence in the United States. As of 2004, both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq require listed companies to adopt and disclose a code of conduct.
And under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, public issuers of securities must disclose whether they have adopted a code for their senior executives (and if not, why not). Similarly, federal guidelines direct judges to take into account the adoption of a code when determining whether a company convicted of a crime had an effective ethics and compliance program in place—and thus when setting a fine. The legal case for a code is further bolstered by various requirements and enforcement policies in specific areas of the law.
The EPA, for example, considers a company’s compliance efforts when it assesses penalties for environmental infractions. Moreover, the courts of Delaware, legal home to more than half of all U. S. publicly traded companies and 58% of the Fortune 500, have held that boards are responsible for ensuring that management implements a compliance and reporting system informed by the federal sentencing guidelines. Our Global Business Standards Codex is intended not as a “model code” that companies should adopt as is, but as a benchmark for those wishing to create their own world-class code.
It represents our attempt to gain a comprehensive, but simplified, picture of the conduct expected of today’s corporations. The provisions of the codex must be customized to a company’s specific business and situation, and individual companies’ codes will include their own distinctive elements as well. What the codex provides is a starting point grounded in ethical fundamentals and aligned with an emerging global consensus on basic standards of corporate behaviour.