Certification for ‘ethical’ businesses to roll out this year

MANILA, Philippines – A private sector-led body seeking to counter dishonest practices in the Philippines expects to roll out this year an International Organization for Standardization-like certification for companies that adhere to ethical business standards.

Jose Solomon B. Cortez, project coordinator at Integrity Initiative, said a certification system is needed to recognize "clean" companies as “there is no global standard for doing ethical business.”

“The idea is to attract good employees and partners, sustain business by gaining loyal customers, and entice government to make them preferred suppliers,” Cortez said in a presentation at the Makati Business Club earlier this week. 

More than 250 companies in the Philippines have taken Integrity Initiative’s online self-assessment test that determines whether they have met a battery of standards they had pledged to keep when they partnered with an organization.

Integrity Initiative has gathered 1,995 signatories to its integrity pledge, comprised of companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) “that have committed to fight unethical practices,” said Cortez. 

To date, 25 signatories’ self-assessment test have been validated, he said.

Cortez said the signatories include the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Education.

As a result, the two government agencies now require their suppliers to sign the integrity pledge, which includes zero tolerance for bribery in all activities; maintaining a code of conduct to guide employees toward ethical behavior; and developing an internal system to prevent unethical conduct among employees.

 “The ultimate goal is to realize fair market conditions, better products, and services. This is how businessmen think,” said Cortez.

 “When you give them a chance, they will commit themselves to that principle – and hold them to that commitment until they die," Cortez added.

Integrity Initiative runs a website where it has listed the signatory companies

Spearheaded by the Makati Business Club and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines in 2009, the initiative calls for collective action among ethical foreign and local business enterprises that are craving for fair market conditions. 

The 4-year project was launched in December 2010, and is funded by Siemens as part of its comprehensive settlement with the World Bank on July 2, 2009, following its entanglement with a bribery scandal.

Under its agreement with the World Bank, Siemens will distribute funds totaling $100 million, over 15 years, to nonprofit organizations worldwide that promote business integrity and fight corruption– Mick Basa / Rappler.com