Conducting business ethically and protecting against fraud and corruption is an important part of how we earn and preserve the trust of our stakeholders. All businesses in South Africa are to some extent exposed to bribery, fraud, corruption and other unethical behaviour, and Altron is no exception. As such, we ensure that we conduct our business according to the strictest ethical code and do our utmost to create a safe and transparent working environment.
The Altron board, together with the chief executive (CE), is responsible for the ethical culture of the group, with support and oversight provided by the group social and ethics committee (SEC).
In May 2016 our SEC approved a new group ethics framework, which is aligned with our mission, vision and values. This framework is depicted in the diagram below and illustrates the flow of actions based on various aspects that influence the agenda of the social and ethics committee. The final outcome is viewed through the lens of our value drivers and material issues defined through our sustainable business strategy.
Altron, its businesses and its employees are guided by the Altron Code of Ethics and Corporate Code of Conduct, which all employees are required to adhere to. An abridged version of these is included in all suppliers’ contracts and terms and conditions, and service and service providers are expected to abide by the same level of ethics that we uphold in our own operations. The code of ethics is also available to employees on the group’s dedicated ethics website and the company website. An annual declaration is signed by all senior employees indicating their adherence to and compliance with Altron group policies. In addition, we regularly feature topics related to ethics in company publications and periodic ethics competitions to create awareness across the group.
The group addresses issues of corruption through collective action. Locally, we are a member of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA). Internationally, we belong to World Without Corruption, an international initiative to fight corruption, and are a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Through our involvement with these groups, we commit to work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
No new developments with regard to the Aberdare Cables investigation into alleged cartel conduct have arisen. We await the Competition Commission’s conclusion on the matter with the other affected parties and we continue to fully comply with the Commission’s requirements as set out in the conditional immunity agreement, and do not anticipate incurring any fines or penalties.
The group did not incur any fines at group level during the year, nor were any material fines incurred by any subsidiaries.
Our whistle-blowing guidelines policy outlines the procedures for reporting suspected instances of corruption and ensures that employees are not unfairly penalised for coming forward.
Altron subscribes to “Tip-offs Anonymous”, an independently run whistle-blowing service that enables employees to report illegal actions and ethical misconduct. Tip-offs can also be submitted via phone, fax and e-mail. All tip-offs are actively investigated, followed up and resolved by the internal audit department, which allocates the matter for investigation where appropriate. In 2017 we received 22 tip-offs (2016: 26). Of these, 90% appeared to be either false or no evidence could be found to substantiate the claims. In the remaining cases the majority were HR related. The breakdown of cases is as follows:
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Altron’s ethics office also has a secure e-mail address that employees can use to report unethical behaviour or to seek advice and guidance on ethical dilemmas. This e-mail address is only accessible to the chief ethics officer.