Below are some exemplary statements of principles, or 'codes of ethics' of some major corporations. Featuring them does not to imply that Transforming Business gives blanket endorsement of the 'corporate social responsibility' agenda. Neither is it to equate good intentions and high aspirations with good behavior - ethics do not only concern moral principles but moral action.
Statements of principles do, however, often reflect the 'ethos', the 'culture', the 'DNA' the 'soul' or the 'spirit' of a company and provide a benchmark by which the company can be held to account by civil society. As such, they reflect what could be regarded as the company's spiritual capital and form an important part of its 'licence to operate'.
The first statement of principles in this series comes from Anglo American, a global leader in minding and natural resources with major operations in the developing world. The company claims to be 'committed to operating in a profitable, sustainable and responsible way' and seeks to unpack this commitment in a statement entitled Good Citizenship: Our Business Principles.
In the preamble to this document the company makes the following claims: 'Our business success brings with it obligations of good stewardship and ethical behaviors. Our surrounding them are stable and prosperous...We need to show that we use our resources and influence in society to the good...Whilst we operate in many countries and in widely differing conditions, our values and principles have universal application...Our Business Principles apply to every business we manage, everything we do and to every part of the world in which we operate. We will ensure that theses principles are properly understood and observed'. For the full text, click here: www.angloamerican.co.uk
The second statement of principles in this series comes from a firm that is almost synonymous with your weekend casuals: Levis.
Levi Strauss & Co. is widely recognized as a leader in corporate citizenship, including ethical practices in sourcing production around the world.
In 1991, the company became the first multinational to establish a comprehensive ethical code of conduct for manufacturing and finishing contractors working with the company. This code, known as the Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines, governs business practices, such as fair employment, worker health and safety, and environmental standards. The code earned the company America's Corporate Conscience Award for International Commitment from the Council on Economic Priorities.
Levi Strauss seeks to ensure compliance with its code of conduct at all facilities that manufacture or finish its products around the world. Its stated goal is to achieve positive results and effect change by working with its business partners to find long-term solutions that will benefit the individuals who make its products and will improve the quality of life in local communities. It works on-site with its contractors to develop strong alliances dedicated to responsible business practices and continuous improvement.
If Levi Strauss & Co. decides that a business partner is not complying with its code, it requires that the partner implement a corrective action plan within a specified time period. If a contractor fails to meet the corrective action plan commitment, the company will terminate its business relationship with that partner.
Levis Strauss also works with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in an effort to improve its worldwide internal monitoring process.
The Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines can be found here.
Thirdly, in this edition of Enterprise Excellence we feature the Purpose, Values and Principles statement of the company Proctor & Gamble (P&G). This is one of the world's leading suppliers of toiletries and cleaning products. In the Stories of Excellence resource section of this website, we showcase the company's Children's Safe Drinking Water programme, designed to reduce illness and death in the developing world, particularly in children.
We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world's consumers. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit, and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper.
P&G is its people and the values by which we live.
We attract and recruit the finest people in the world. We build our organization from within, promoting and rewarding people without regard to any difference unrelated to performance. We act on the conviction that the men and women of Procter & Gamble will always be our most important asset.
Passion for Winning
We are Strategically Focused in our Work
We Value Personal Mastery
We Show Respect for all Individuals
The Interests of the Company and the Individual are Inseparable
Innovation is the Cornerstone of our Success
We are Externally Focused
We Seek to be the Best
Mutual Interdependency is a Way of Life
Saving the World from Mediocre Coffee
Costa Coffee's mission statement is simply stated: 'Saving the world from mediocre coffee'. But it appears that ridding the world of irresponsible coffee is also part of what it sees as its brief. The company declares on its website: 'We want our coffee to leave a lasting impression on you, not our environment. That's why we do everything we possibly can to look after the communities we serve, and the world we live in'.
Independent surveys suggest that Costa could be the UK's favourite coffee shop. While the focus of such surveys is on quality of service, the work of the Costa Foundation is also highly regarded. Since its inception in 2006, the Foundation has been committed to improving socio-economic wellbeing of coffee-growing communities and has helped the company achieve certification from the Rainforest Alliance. Through grassroots educational and building programs in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Uganda and Vietnam, the Foundation's achievements include:
Costa has set a target for the Foundation to provide 15,000 children with access to education. With the support of the Rainforest Alliance, it seeks to ensure that all its coffee-supplying plantations maintain high standards in their treatment of workers and in their cultivation of the land.
Further information on the Costa Foundation can be found here.