6 May 2014 - Emma Sharma, Supreme Group’s Ethics and Compliance Officer, highlighted the benefits of having an in-house forensics team, as well as the importance of ethics in internal investigations during a prestigious industry event organized recently by the American Bar Association in California, United States. Emma was one of only two in-house legal counsel invited to join the distinguished panel. The ABA’s Spring Conference was attended by both local and international lawyers, and the panel was one of many presentations and workshops offered to attendees.
“We consider our reputation to be one of our most important assets, so we have made a substantial commitment to foster an ethical business environment on behalf of our employees and customers. We specialize in operating in very challenging locations amidst difficult conditions, many of which have been identified by Transparency International as the most perceived corrupt places in which to operate. This in itself means that the role of ethics is very important, but it also means that implementing a robust ethics culture and system is not always an easy process,” Sharma commented.
“Supreme’s strategy around ethics and compliance is therefore at the very heart of all that we do, every day. To ensure this is upheld, we have a substantial internal investigations team, some of whom are located in our head office and in our key operational locations. They can deploy wherever required around the world and operate in accordance with global best practices. There are many benefits of having an in-house forensics team as opposed to working with agencies. It is much more cost effective, the team can cover a broader scope of work, and we can hire a team of people with significant expertise in investigations, which is not always the case of law firms,” she added.
During the panel discussion, issues surrounding the ethics of internal investigations were discussed, such as legal considerations, ways to ensure interviews are fair and respectful, as well as the importance of having an investigations mechanism or team available to support the ethics agenda.
“What is wrong in one culture may not be considered wrong in another; it is not always black and white. To address this, we provide face to face ethics training to every one of our employees around the world, as well as additional training on anti-corruption, anti-bribery, conflicts of interest and other relevant topics. As a result, we have created a strong ethics culture in our workplace, which has created competitive advantages and has enabled us to better manage risks. We have also been able to improve customer retention, enhance our reputation and drive new business through better business development. This was one of the best panel discussions I have ever sat on, as it was a really interesting and engaged discussion about important issues that impact companies every day,” Sharma concluded.
Supreme Group has a robust Ethics and Compliance program, with the department operating as a separate and independent function that reports directly to the Group Compliance Committee. The Committee is comprised of senior leaders who meet monthly to review the program and activities. All employees must abide by Supreme’s comprehensive Code of Ethics and Business Conduct. More information about Supreme’s commitment to ethics is included in the company’s Communication on Progress submission to the United Nations Global Compact Initiative.
“We are committed to honesty and respect. Our reputation is the best asset we have and that’s why we encourage ethical business practices at all times.”