Interview: Why have a code?
|Coenraad ("Coeni") van Beek, PwC global ethics leader answers some questions on the PwC Code of conduct.
Coenraad van Beek, PwC global ethics leader answers some questions on the PwC Code of conduct.
1. What exactly is your code of conduct and why do you have one?
Coeni: Our code of conduct is basically a set of standards describing the behaviour we expect of our own people. Why do we have one? Well, obviously PwC already conducts its business in a framework of relevant laws, regulations and internal policies - but we recognise that these do not govern all behaviour. We feel it is important for all our clients, our people and other stakeholders - to understand exactly what we stand for and how they can expect us to conduct ourselves.
2. So does the code exist in isolation or does it link in to your existing business practices?
: I'm sure it will come as no surprise to learn that our code of conduct is an integral part of the way we work every day and in every corner of the world. The code doesn't change the basic nature of the business we undertake, but instead it articulates the way we strive to conduct ourselves. Specifically, the code is linked to our existing values - those of Excellence, Teamwork and Leadership; the code shows how these values apply to our daily business practices.
3. Is your code of conduct merely a set of guidelines, or are there sanctions to ensure compliance?
: It is clearly the responsibility of each and every person at PwC to follow the code and PwC policies consistently and appropriately, and help others to do the same. Those who violate the code, or other policies, will be subject to disciplinary action - up to and including dismissal. A key part of the code has been to ensure that all our firms worldwide take steps to ensure that our people understand and comply with the code. Enforcement will be conducted locally, as legal and professional requirements differ from country to country. I would encourage visitors to this site to print a copy of the code and read it at their leisure - the section relating to enforcement can be found in the 'Our Responsibilities' section of the code.
4.At one point your code says "We seek to serve only those clients whom we are competent to serve, who value our service and who meet appropriate standards of legitimacy and integrity." Does this mean you would choose not to work for a client who did not comply with these standards?
: Absolutely. We have a very stringent Risk and Quality programme in place. We seek to assess every client assignment before we take it on, including, to the best of our ability, the quality and integrity of a company and its management. We also seek to review our clients every year to determine whether we want to continue serving them. If necessary, we decline assignments or resign from clients.
5. Finally, how do you ensure your code of conduct stays relevant since its inception in early 2002?
: We feel it is important to let our clients, our people and other stakeholders know what kind of conduct they can expect from PwC. We are committed to make this a long-term success; so, for example, we have dedicated ethics champions around the world, training for our people, channels such as helplines to enable people to raise concerns, and ways of monitoring the programme. We continue to drive and actively support this programme around the world and by doing this we ensure all code of conduct efforts remain relevant.