Anwar Hashmi is a Senior Consultant within Global Ethics & Compliance at Integrity Leadership Partners, LLC in the Washington DC Metro Area. He has over 14 years of experience in designing, developing, and implementing Global Ethics Programs at Tata Steel, a global Fortune 500 company and Tata Group’s flagship company. Hashmi has been associated with the Business Ethics Program of the company since the Tata Group developed its first Code of Ethics in 1998. While at Tata Steel, Hashmi was actively engaged in the institutionalization of the Global Ethics Program through training and sensitization as well as development and implementation of an ethics system and policies. He also initiated a process of benchmarking the Ethics Program among the world’s top multinational companies. Following the UK Bribery Act’s enactment in 2010, Hashmi launched an initiative to raise awareness amongst Tata Group Companies. The combination of these efforts contributed to Tata Steel being named as one of the World’s 100 Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute.
CIPE’s Stephanie Bandyk discusses with Hashmi the factors that led to Tata Steel formalizing the firm’s unwritten code of ethics. Hashmi also discusses what motivated other emerging market companies to follow Tata’s lead.
- Corporate compliance and ethics programs are still not universally common around the world. In your experience, what are some of the factors behind companies in emerging and frontier markets recognizing the need for such programs and then taking concrete steps to implement them?
I can speak about the Tata Group. Codes of Ethics and Corporate Ethics Programs were not well-known subjects amongst Indian corporations. Tata Group had a long legacy of promoting ethical business conduct, which was like an unwritten code for the Group and religiously followed. Prior to 1990, the Indian economy was closed and there was not much competition, with companies operating in a protected environment. Price was determined by government agencies, so selling your product was not an issue. Then, with globalization and the opening of the Indian economy, which led to unprecedented growth of the Group both domestically and internationally, there was a felt need for codifying the values and business conduct to create value-synergy amongst the varied Group companies operating in different regions. A written document could give guidelines on the mode of Business and Personal conduct for the Group companies and employees. The Western experience on this was used as a best practice and the Group developed its first Code of Ethics in 1998. We benchmarked the Code with the top Global Corporations Code. Since I was involved in the designing and development of the Code, I still remember how we gathered codes of ethics of U.S. companies like Martin Marietta and many others to use as a standard. With the development of the Code, the Group felt the need for an implementation program that could be applied uniformly across the Group. The implementation program was developed and became known as Management of Business Ethics (MBE).
- What’s motivated other companies to develop similar programs?
Tata Group was the first to develop a formal Code of Conduct. With the opening of the Indian economy, other Indian companies also started looking for business opportunities globally, especially within Western markets, and searched for association or joint partnerships with the U.S. and other developed countries. Such ethics programs are a requirement of doing business in Western or similar markets – companies need to have articulated values and a defined code of ethics. This led to other Indian companies developing a Code of Conduct and a structure to implement it. In fact, Tata’s experience was used as a benchmark by most of the Indian companies. I was personally called upon by several companies, in both the public and private sectors and other agencies, to help them develop a code of ethics. Read more…