Doing business with integrity requires among other things that Conflicts of Interests are dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner. Recently, the ICC Guidelines on Conflicts of Interests in Enterprises have been published (together with a translation in Dutch: ICC Richtlijnen inzake Conflicterende Belangen in Bedrijven). The Guidelines provide useful recommendations on policy design and implementation.
In the ICC Guidelines, it is recommended to task a dedicated officer in the organisation (for example the compliance officer) with (1) maintenance of a Conflicts of Interest Policy, (2) maintenance of a Conflicts of Interests register, (3) conflict clearing, and (4) providing advice on how to mitigate any related integrity risks.
It is essential that any upcoming Conflicts of Interests are reported to the compliance officer in a timely manner. Line management and the Executive Board should facilitate this process.
For certain industry sectors, additional requirements apply. For example, the management of listed companies need to handle price sensitive information adequately. Also, the Dutch Corporate Governance Code, applicable to listed companies, includes specific requirements on how to avoid Conflicts of Interests at Executive Board and Supervisory Board level.
Protection of integrity and avoiding reputation damage does not only concern the management, the employees, business partners, and shareholders of the company. The overriding, public interest is at stake.
The ICC Guidelines are a call for action for companies to avoid Conflicts of Interests and to do more than throwing a penetrating look in the mirror. Some case studies are included in the ICC Guidelines to start with.
See the ICC-NL website. for more information.