EthicsSA to release a 'Handbook on Ethics Reporting and Assessment'

EthicsSA to release a ‘Handbook on Ethics Reporting and Assessment’

written by Kris Dobie

 

The first time I was asked by an ethics officer what she should report to her ethics committee was about 7 years ago. I’m sure it must’ve been clear from my response that I had not yet given this much thought. But in my defence, very few people had.  At that time few organisations even had ethics committees. 

 

The first time I was asked by an ethics officer what she should report to her ethics committee was about 7 years ago. I’m sure it must’ve been clear from my response that I had not yet given this much thought. But in my defence, very few people had.  At that time few organisations even had ethics committees.

In the interim ethics management has matured significantly.  Ethics has become a central governance issue and boards have increasingly started to engage proactively with their organisations’ ethics performance.  This has been driven by a number of regulatory factors: 

  • King III places the responsibility for ethical leadership with the board and also requires the board to “ensure that the company’s ethics are managed effectively”; 
  • The Companies Act requires the establishment of Social and Ethics committees in public interest companies; and   
  • The more recently approved Public Sector Integrity Management Framework requires all national and provincial government departments to establish ethics offices and ethics committees.   

All of this has elevated ethics to the governance agenda and has led to greater strategic oversight of ethics programmes, thereby requiring a more structured approach to ethics reporting. 

At the same time internal auditors are starting to grapple with how they should be assessing their organisations’ ethics performance as is required by King III.  The Institute of Internal Auditors also specifies in their International Professional Practices Framework that “evaluating the design, implementation and effectiveness of the organization’s ethics-related objectives, programs and activities” is one of the duties of internal audit.

With all of that in the background we approached the Institute of Internal Auditors more than a year ago to start a conversation on internal audit’s role in the assessment of organisations’ ethics performance. 

This has led to the second handbook to be released by EthicsSA - the ‘Handbook on Ethics Reporting and Assessment - Guidelines for ethics officers and internal auditors on reporting and assessment of organisations’ ethics performance.’ 

It is intended for the following groups:

-          Firstly, ethics officers who need to report on their organisations’ ethics management programmes to relevant governing bodies;

-          Secondly, internal auditors who have to assess the organisation’s ethics performance and report to the audit committee;

-          Thirdly, audit committees who needs to sign off on organisations’ integrated and sustainability reports;

-          And lastly, governing bodies and other relevant committees that provide direction and oversight of the organisation’s ethics performance. 

 

It will be released at the end of October 2014 and we hope it will see as much use as our Social and Ethics Committee Handbook.  Both of these handbooks will be available for free download on our website.