Ethics Committees are responsible for giving binding opinions on ethical issues that may arise in relation to the policies of an organisation. In private corporations, they report to the Board of Directors.
The Ethics Committee´s duties typically include:
- Defining initiatives to communicate the code of ethics of the particular organisation, to enhance its understanding by all employees;
- Clarifying the code of ethics´ meaning and its correct application to specific cases;
- Deciding remedying actions/sanctions upon individual violation of the code of ethics;
- Coordinating and supervising the drawing up/revision of corporate policies;
- Coordinating the periodic revision of the code of ethics and the related implementation mechanisms;
- Commenting on reports by the ethics and compliance officer or directly responding to employees and other stakeholders as regards potential code of ethics breaches;
- Protecting employees against possible retaliation they might suffer after reporting unethical conduct;
- Approving the communication and ethical training plan;
- Coordinating and evaluating the internal ethical auditing report; and
- Coordinating the social accountability process.
It is good practice to establish Ethics Committees with a wide representation of corporate functions as well as representatives of relevant stakeholders as its members. Moreover, it is possible to extend membership to independent third parties (i.e. ethics experts; members of NGOs and other associations).
The Institute of Ethics scholars can serve as independent members of Ethics Committees.
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