ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47
Financial Times  

Call for transparency and accountability in biz sector

Following the Asian Tsunami, the business sector in Sri Lanka, their overseas principals and business partners raised their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Many business entities discharge their CSR responsibility as a part of an in-house project, within company corporate plans, with appropriate resource allocations and a separate division/department, reporting to a main board director, with set goals, strategies, budgets, MIS, and defined accountability structures.

With business priorities and external challenges stretching management resources in optimizing shareholder value whilst balancing the expectations of all stakeholders, a real need has arisen for strategic long term alliances with civil society organizations capable of supporting business entities in their selected areas of focus in CSR.

This can be an effective strategy and a means of optimizing return on resources of business, provided a committed and capable network alliance partner having an acceptable framework of governance, willing to be held accountable to deliver agreed outcomes measured on a value for money scale is in place.
The selected partner must be assessed as satisfactorily meeting expectations of the business entity, measured on the following ten golden rules of engagement;

• Transparency
1.Willingness to account in an open and transparent manner, adopting international best practices and standards of accounting and auditing specified by the Institute of Chartered Accountants,
2.Willingness to provide regular statements of account and management information in an agreed format and support same with required validations/vouchers and independent certification,
3.Willingness to be subject to independent external audit, post implementation reviews and value for money audits,
4.Benefit structure and fees to be clearly agreed with no other hidden benefits,

Willingness to accept accountability in terms of a defined Donor Relations Policy and willing to enter into comprehensive service level agreements with defined outcomes and delivery standards, use of Trust agreements and employment of external Trustees and specialist managers,

• Organizational Integrity
and Independence
An unblemished record within a well defined binding structure that assures honesty and integrity of the service provider and its management,

• Ethics, Business Standards
and Compliance Certification
Being publicly accountable to a defined code of conduct and business standards including commitments on preventing bribery and corruption, adherence to laws and regulations, competition, confidentiality of information, avoidance of conflicts of interest, money laundering and whistle blowing standards,

Commitment to annually publish statements of compliance under the hand of the CEO and CFO of
1.the ethics and business standards structure in practice,
2. Due discharge of accountability to the announced codes of conduct and good governance,
3.Compliance with the announced donor relations policy commitments and specific contractual obligations to donors and other stakeholders,
4.That the organization had throughout the year capability (knowledge/skills and attitudes) and commitment with adequate human other resources to meet all stakeholder obligations,
5.Compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements and articulated vision, mission and core values/principles,
6.Confirmation that all benefits and fees were as agreed and no hidden benefits, conflicts of interests etc,
7. Accounts and MIS being prepared with full transparency,

•Economy, Efficiency and
Committed to having the capability, human and other resources, systems, structures to assure all operations are carried out optimizing economy, efficiency and effectiveness of resources and these commitments and processes are regularly reviewed and updated,

•Level of Focus on Outcomes
Being committed to outcomes rather than outputs and inputs and having the capability, human and other resources, systems, structures to assure that all operations are carried out optimizing outcomes, value for money and realization of agreed objectives• Courage, Conviction, Steadfast Commitment to Principles,
Having in place a well defined and committed set of core values and principles that are upheld at all times and are a living practice amongst management and promoted by the leadership

•Justice, Fair Play and Empathy with
Society and Environment
Standards of justice and fair play are always upheld and entity empathizes with societal norms/ values and commit to best practices of protecting the environment and ecology,

• Democracy, Meritocracy and abhorring Nepotism and Favouritism
Processes of election of officials, selection of management, network partners, suppliers and contractors are governed by best practices of democracy and meritocracy and entity abhors nepotism and favouritism,

•Fit and Proper, Independent and apolitical Management
Assurance that management positions are filled by “fit and proper persons” with independence, professionalism, caring and apolitical in approach to business and exercising all times financial prudence,
Business entities going forward can no longer rely on chance meetings, referrals or public image of founders, tax approved status or registration with the Social Services Department in selecting a CSR alliance partner. To avoid future disappointments a detailed review needs to be carried out at the inception and annually thereafter.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.