Integrity Initiative, ASEAN groups ink MOU on code of ethics
MANILA, Philippines – As Southeast Asia moves closer to a unified economic community, a private sector-led campaign in the Philippines has signed a memorandum of understanding with its neighbors to establish a uniform standard for ethical businesses.
The Integrity Initiative, along with 5 other groups in the region, agreed to work together in creating a common strategy against corruption in conducting business.
At the 2014 Integrity Summit in Makati on Friday, September 19, Yati Triwadiantini chair f the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Corpororate Social Responsibility Network, said the project is one way for ASEAN to make its impact felt on the ground.
"If the ASEAN is to achieve its goal, ASEAN needs to make its activities more people centered," Triwadiantini said. "A diverse ASEAN can only be strong if it is united as one, consolidated by mutual trust."
The Integrity Initiative aims to institutionalize the implementation of a code of ethics for businesses, with the goal of rolling out an ISO-like certification for compliant companies.
Under the MOU, the groups agreed to promote anti-corruption campaigns, and cooperate in sharing best practices and building a common strategy.
Other signatures to the MOU include:
- Indonesia Business Links
- Singapore Compact for CSR
- Vietnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- ICC Malaysia
- ASEAN CSR Network
Makati Business Club (MBC) chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr, who also heads the Integrity Initiative, said the campaign seeks to create a level playing field for everyone.
"We in the private sector acknowledge that corruption unnecessarily adds to the cost of doing business," he said.
Businesses that sign up for the Integrity Initiative are encouraged to take a self-assessment tool designed to evaluate how "ethical" a business is. The group has also developed an integrity compliance manual that can be used to develop and implement an organization's code of ethics.
While the project is still largely anchored on self-monitoring, the group hopes to introduce third-party certification when enough companies have complied with standards.
A total of 1893 organizations have signed the Integrity Pledge as of September 2014. Aside from private entities, the campaign also involves the government. One government agency – the Department of Public Works and Highways – has required all private contractors to sign the pledge before transacting with the department.
As a result of the campaign, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson also requires all bidders and suppliers to undergo anti-corruption workshops.
Del Rosario said the group hopes President Benigno Aquino III would soon issue an Executive Order that would require private suppliers to sign the pledge before transacting with the government.
Spearheaded by the MBC and the European Chamber of Commerce, the Integrity Initiative is funded by Siemens as part of its comprehensive settlement with the World Bank to fund $100 million worth of projects worldwide that promote business integrity, after it was rocked by a bribery scandal. – Rappler.com