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Case study: How ABB promotes business integrity

ABB is a global technology leader in power and automation, with customers in over 100 countries and approximately 135,000 employees. As a result, promoting business integrity, building an ethical culture for both its employees and the company’s business partners, is a key priority.

This case study is based on the 2015 Sustainability Performance Report by ABB published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing. 

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Creating a culture of ethics, integrity and compliance for both its employees and its business partners is a top priority for ABB. In order to promote business integrity ABB took action to:

  • prevent non-compliant behaviour through training and communication
  • detect integrity issues through anti-bribery reviews and a range of reporting channels
  • show zero tolerance for non-compliance and corruption
  • promote integrity in the industries in which ABB operates

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2015 Sustainability Performance Report ABB identified a range of material issues, such as responsible sourcing, human rights, products and services, energy efficiency and climate change. Among these, as a global technology leader, operating in more than 100 countries and employing around 135,000 people, promoting business integrity stands out as a key material issue for ABB.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups ABB engages with:

Stakeholder Group
ABB employees
Customers
Suppliers
Investors
Civil society (including NGOs, international organizations, sustainability experts and young people)

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

In 2015 ABB created a sustainability report review panel, consisting of representatives of the company’s key stakeholders, who reviewed and provided feedback on ABB’s material issues and the company’s 2015 Sustainability Performance Report.

What actions were taken by ABB to promote business integrity?

In its 2015 Sustainability Performance Report ABB reports that it took the following actions for promoting business integrity:

  • Preventing non-compliant behaviour through training and communication
  • All new ABB employees must, in their first three months in the company, complete training on ABB’s Code of Conduct through both online e-learning and face-to-face training.
  • [tweetthis]2014 & 2015: 97% of ABB’s employees completed anti-bribery training[/tweetthis] (Global Anti-Bribery: Don’t Look the Other Way online training was provided for white collar employees and face-to-face training on ABB’s Code of Conduct was completed by blue collar employees).
  • 2015:  A new, cloud-based tool relating to the preapproval of gifts, entertainment and expenses was piloted by ABB.

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  • Detecting integrity issues through anti-bribery reviews and a range of reporting channels
  • ABB’s internal audit department reviews business units and processes, accounts, balances and transactions to detect breaches of ABB’s anti-bribery policies.
  • Both employees and external business partners are able to report any integrity concerns through a 24/7 business ethics hotline and a stakeholder hotline, respectively.
  • Showing zero tolerance for non-compliance and corruption
  • ABB’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) conducts the relevant investigations at a global level and, in case disciplinary action is taken, it is in accordance with ABB’s Human Resources Disciplinary Protocol.
  • Promoting integrity in the industries in which ABB operates
  • ABB is a founding member of the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative and of Ethics and Compliance Switzerland.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicators/Standards addressed in this case are:

1) G4-56: Describe the organization’s values, principles, standards and norms of behaviour such as codes of conduct and codes of ethics – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-16 Values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior

2) G4-58: Report the internal and external mechanisms for reporting concerns about unethical or unlawful behavior, and matters related to organizational integrity, such as escalation through line management, whistleblowing mechanisms or hotlines – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-17 Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethics

3) G4-SO4: Communication and training on anti-corruption policies and procedures – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by ABB, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

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