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The Company’s Code of Awesomeness

And the statement “we are diverse” has surely been respected. After all, Bekier was a Swiss management consultant and its chairman, John O’Neill, a Sydney banker. Exotic names populating the board included Sheppard, Bradley and Heap. These guys were practically the United Nations. There were even a few women.

“Unique Values”

At least Star respects business English. Another company on the rocks, EML Payments, describes its “unique value” as awesome. Why a bizarrely profitable gift certificate provider – gross profit margins of 80% – would claim to be Uber is a question for corporate psychologists.

EML is neither simple, nor unified, nor open, the other qualities to which it aspires. Over the past 16 months, the Brisbane-based firm has tried to convince the central bank of Ireland that it does not facilitate terrorism or money laundering. For some reason, it turns out to be a tough sell.

In February, Chairman Peter Martin assured shareholders that the Irish issue would be resolved by the end of the financial year. In July, EML noted that “there is more to do”.

Those pesky pixie regulators weren’t happy with what EML called – in a way that provided no information to humans lacking the ability to read minds over great distances – “the sequencing and approaching adopted for the risk assessment of its distributors, companies and customers”.

EML has a 21-section code of conduct (staff must not “mislead by omission”), which hasn’t stopped its value from plummeting from $2 billion last April to $373 million, or a negative return of 81%.

Then, two days after the president said EML wanted to be “recognized as a leader in compliance” on Aug. 23, the company discovered that customers had stolen some $7.9 million. Did someone leave a box of gift certificates lying around?

inspiration and action

Since EML was the complete opposite of awesome, Martin and his CEO/board ally, Tom Cregan, didn’t exactly live up to his “Do it as one team” goal.

In 2020, 2021 and 2022, Martin sold $4.5 million of EML stock and Cregan, who quit suddenly in July, sold $13.5 million net. Sales took place well above the current price.

While the employees worked for the shareholders, their managers took care of themselves. This may be an example of why the effectiveness of codes of conduct seems to vary inversely with their popularity.

Asking employees to obey the law or not to cheat may be superfluous. Convincing them to be good people is admirable, but it’s unlikely to work if those with power aren’t. Morality is not inspired by words, but by deeds.

Business ethics were not taken seriously until the 1960s, when the rise of multinational corporations was accompanied by social activism against environmental degradation, treatment of minorities, profiteering from war of Vietnam and third world exploitation.

By 1990, business ethics was firmly established in academia and influenced big business and investors. An analysis of 150 U.S. business ethics codes in 1989 found numerous prescribed protections for whistleblowers, defined conflicts of interest, and explicitly prohibited bribery and political donations.

Unusually useful

Today, what are commonly referred to as codes of conduct are so commonplace that public companies rarely lack them. They are encouraged to do so by an ethics committee of the Australian Securities Exchange, which has published an unusual report useful list of principles of corporate behavior in 2020.

The advice was precise and realistic. It included respect for the integrity of corporate reporting, delineation of board and management responsibilities, timely disclosure of information, and fair compensation for directors.

As befits the free market, the committee’s recommendations are not binding. Non-compliant companies are encouraged to tell investors why. The approach gives managers the opportunity to come up with their own approach, for example by downloading the Clean Desk Policy from Business in a Box.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in parliament on September 2. James Brickwood.

One company that complies with the ASX guidelines is Qantas Airways, a platinum member of the Code of Conduct Club.

The airline’s rules are so prescriptive that Qantas should report itself for buying influence. Any gift, hospitality or entertainment given to a government official must be recorded in a log maintained on the company’s intranet, in accordance with its 14-page Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.

Is there any gratification more sought after among Australian politicians than the Qantas Invitational Chairman’s Lounge? Chief Executive Alan Joyce is said to be reviewing the list himself, but who would know?

Only five members of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s 23-person cabinet did not accept or were offered access to the secret sanctuary, according to parliamentary records: Albanese, Finance Minister Katy Gallagher, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Agriculture Minister Murray. Watt.

Spouses and partners are also admitted; power benefits are a family affair. They are also selectively controlled. Imagine if Rio Tinto offered each federal politician and their partner $3,000 a year?

The show’s holdouts may have been inspired by McKinsey & Co, which adopted a codification of corporate behavior worthy of the Library of Congress.

The management consulting firm has a code of professional conduct, customer and supplier service standards, a declaration on human rights, a written commitment to inclusion and diversity and environmental sustainability statements. It endorsed the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact, a kind of practical guide for companies.

If there is a way to help humanity, McKinsey wants you to know he wants to know. “We are a values-driven organization and aspire to uphold the highest professional, legal and ethical standards,” he says.

Can you guess where Matt Bekier learned the trade?