Boardrooms spending more time and energy on ethics compliance

2006

More corporate boards are becoming actively involved in providing oversight into their organisation's ethics and compliance programmes.

A report by The Conference Board of 225 companies and the design and implementation of their compliance and risk assessment programme found board involvement in ethics and compliance programmes had jumped from 21 per cent in 1987 to 96 per cent in 2005.

Some 79 per cent of corporate board members polled in a similar survey in 1987 had no contact with their company's ethics programmes but by last year just four per cent of boards surveyed were not involved.

"With the growing participation of boards in ethics, it is most likely that more high-level executives are responsible for these programmes," said Ronald E Berenbeim, primary researcher and director for The Conference Board's working group on global business ethics and principles.

"This is encouraging because ethics and compliance issues are becoming increasingly important to the welfare of global companies," he added.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled reported training more than 90 per cent of their workforce in their company's code of conduct.

This figure was little changed from the 78 per cent who reported it in 1998 survey, it added.

This time around ethics training for some employees was now almost universal (92 per cent) and considerably higher than the 79 per cent recorded in 1998.

Another sign of changing times was that more than one-third of the companies surveyed in 2005 conducted more than 90 per cent of their training through e-learning programmes.