The code of business ethics
In 2004 we introduced a Code of Corporate Responsibility and Business Ethics ('the Code')which set out 12 broad principles for how Smiths does business, based on common values of integrity, honesty, fairness and transparency. It was acknowledged that the principles cannot address all areas or all circumstances, but they provide a framework for wider policies and programmes.
In early 2008, Smiths retained the consultancy URS to conduct a benchmarking exercise of the Code against guidance on content and implementation from the Institute of Business Ethics. We took this opportunity to benchmark against companies operating in similar segments, from both a product and an investor perspective, using publicly available materials. The purpose was to establish the comparative strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for development of the Code.
Whilst URS highlighted many strengths, they also helped us to identify the following changes that, in the main, describe areas covered by policies but not previously set out explicitly in the Code:
- we have incorporated more references to the shareholders as a key group of stakeholders;
- we have strengthened the non-retaliation language;
- we have made more explicit the principles in relation to confidential information and use of Smiths and third parties' assets (including IT and communications equipment);
- we have included reference to protection from potential security threats;
- we have included references to payment of taxes and assessment of risk;
- we have expanded references to the availability of resources to support the Code; and
- we have expanded provisions and advice for reporting issues, and have included, at the end of the Code, a section on governance which previously appeared on the website and intranet, but not in printed versions of the Code.
The revised Code, although expanded, retains the 12 core principles structure and has the simplified title 'Code of Business Ethics'. It has been produced in 12 of Smiths operating languages, and is available both in hard copy format and on theSmiths intranet for each employee.
The new Code of Business Ethics is available to the public on the Smiths website. www.smiths.com
In 2008, in order to communicate the revised Code and provide ethics training to individuals across the Group, a Smiths Code of Business Ethics training course was created. In collaboration with Global IT this course was launched online through a custom-built electronic training platform, the Global Learning Resource(GLR), and installed on a Smiths training portal available through the internet. The course is also available on CD-Rom.
The online Code of Business Ethics training was launched in five core languages and completed in June 2009. Smiths employees have been trained on the revised Code of Business Ethics through the intranet, portal or classroom-style training. New employees also participate in ethics training.
The GLR and portal are designed to support future employee training in the areas of business ethics, compliance, safety, and security.