By Francisco Camargo *


“I don't want to go through ethical propositions, I don't want to do ethics” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
“Ethics is not made up of words, but of acts” (free translation)

People who cry out for ethics, the same people who ask for double receipts in the taxi, medical certificates for their son to take substitute tests without paying, skip the queue, hit a stopped car and drive away, and so many other small and large ethical infractions. Changing culture in the Brazilian way takes time, but it can be accelerated if companies set an example. Their role in the search for a more ethical society is one of the most important. They are the companies that generate work, provide products and services to the market, represent the most significant portion of the collection of taxes.

What is reported by the media does not testify in favor of companies on ethical issues, corruption to varying degrees and to varying degrees in large corporations. Small and medium-sized businesses certainly have problems, but this is rarely news.

And the legal framework exists, and even provides for the liquidation of the company. Among the main laws, there is Federal Law nº. 12,846 / 2013, which holds companies and their managers accountable and is an important resource in the fight against corruption, as it allows punishment in other spheres besides the judicial, of legal persons that corrupt public agents, defraud bids and contracts or hinder investigation or inspection activity public bodies, among other irregularities.

Some initiatives have shown their ability to disseminate ethical practices in sectors of the economy. Abes - Brazilian Association of Software Companies - created the initiative “An Ethical Company”. 

The objective is to encourage member companies, more than two thousand, to formally adopt the highest ethical and moral standards in dealing with their affairs, whether internal or external. From maintaining best practices in the relationship with customers, suppliers, competitors, employees and government agents to creating formal rules to implement them, adopting a Formal Integrity Program.

As the law itself understood, the only way to have visibility on the ethical behavior of companies and managers is through an anonymous, whistleblowing channel, in which the whistleblower does not suffer embarrassment or retaliation.

This initiative provides member companies with a free anonymous reporting channel, which allows them to register, in a completely anonymous and independent manner, complaints about events that do not comply with the ethical and moral standards established by company norms or by the laws of the country. .

Adherence to it has grown steadily, from small to medium-sized companies, as a traditional IT security infrastructure technology distribution company, whose old integrity program was limited to a conventional code of ethics, and which has been completely revised and adapted to the initiative An Ethical Company.

These actions are extremely welcome in the context of many dishonest practices, some of which are even recognized in the market as “taking the ball” in the commercial sector. And others that are really criminal. Global research by Ernst & Young (EY) showed that for 96% of Brazilian professionals interviewed, bribery or corruption practices occur widely in business.

Information from the Ministry of Labor and Employment and the Superior Labor Court - TST - show that bullying was the most common complaint in the country in the last ten years. About seven out of ten companies have reported harassment cases.

Still regarding the need to adjust corporate conduct, the protection of personal data collected or processed or stored in the company is another obligation provided for in Law 13.709 / 18, which comes into force in August 2020. The General Data Protection Law, as is known, limits the collection and storage of data from customers, users, employees, employees, visitors, etc., by companies of all sizes and segments. Sanctions and heavy fines, which can reach 50 million reais, may be applied to those who fail to comply with these and other obligations.

It is true that the Law makes no distinction between the types of data leaks, whether intentional or whether the company was the victim of an attack by cybercriminals. This is certainly going to be a big problem for small and medium-sized businesses, with no resources to hire consultants to define their data governance, their data manager, or the information security solutions needed to avoid falling victim to attacks and leaks.

Faced with these and other challenges against corruption and money laundering, it is undoubtedly past time for companies to adjust their practices to transform the corporate environment and all its relationships in order to prioritize the incentive and inspection of practices that meet legislation.

The Initiative An Ethical Company, with its anonymous reporting channel, allows for the replication of excellent procedures not only for the observance of laws, but for the construction of a better society.

Some nuances of the Abes Integrity Program

The relationship of companies with public entities is the critical point to be observed in the Anti-Corruption Law. Thus, chapter VIII of the Abes Code of Ethics and Conduct, expressed in its article 49:

“ABES Associates, Members, Third Parties and other ABES employees are prohibited from offering, promising, making, authorizing or providing (directly or indirectly) any undue advantage, payments (including facilitation payments), gifts or the transfer of anything of value for any person, whether public agent or not, to influence or reward any official action or decision of that person for their own benefit or that of ABES.

Sole Paragraph: In addition to the acts mentioned in the caput, all other actions, of action or omission, that may mean violation of the principles and values of ABES, the current legislation, in particular the Anticorruption Law, Administrative Improbity Law, Law of Bidding and Money Laundering Law. ”

ABES has also created a Policy of Interaction with Public Agents that guides your entire relationship with the public sector.

One of the duties of the associates is to report any breach and suspected breach of conduct prohibited in this document to the entity. In addition, all contracts entered into with ABES must contain an anti-corruption clause, mentioning this Code of Ethics, as well as all associates and all third parties should be encouraged to adopt anti-corruption clauses in the other contracts they may enter into.

The code also provides for sanctions, ranging from the suspension of voting rights; passing a reserved, written warning; written, public warning; temporary suspension of membership rights until exclusion from membership. "In addition to the sanctions provided for in this code, in the event that the infractions mentioned in article 79 constitute a crime, ABES may inform the competent authorities or adopt the appropriate administrative or judicial measures."

Having a country with ethical companies, even if punishment is necessary for this, is the expected result. No one else supports the constant and diverse forms of corruption in Brazilian institutions. This 'way' of obtaining advantages and circumventing rules not only defies the laws, but frustrates dreams and stunts opportunities for the population, in addition to slowing the economy and compromising the well-being of an entire society.

* Francisco Camargo is Chairman of the Board of ABES

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