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Codes must have consequences

Codes of conduct are useless unless they are driven from the top down and must have consequences if broken if they are to mean anything.

Tuesday, November 9th 2021, 6:37AM

by Matthew Martin

BoardWorks International director Graeme Nahkies says codes are excellent as performance management tools but are only work if they are embraced by boards and enforced by senior management.

He says corporate meltdowns occur when senior management don't walk the talk and those bad behaviours are then mirrored by middle management and those working on the front lines.

In a continuation of the Financial Services Council's (FSC) online conference - Regenerations Reimagined - a panel of experts gave their views on the importance of codes in professional organisations. https://fscgenerations.satellitetag.co.nz/cms/home-page

Barrister and chairman of the FSC Code Disciplinary Committee Geoff Clews says codes often start out in a "suck it and see" situation and must have time to bed in.

"It takes time, experience and examples for people to see the code is honoured...and a fair shake is given to everyone."

Clews says they also have to be administered independently and transparently to be effective.

"Separatism is fundamental so that the outcome is not manipulated by members too close to any of the organisations."

He says the disciplinary side of a code is just as important as the code itself and must evolve to keep up with societal changes.

"So there is a complete and rounded process that's more than just lip service."

Director of Knax Consulting and chairman of the FSC Adviser Code Committee Angus Dale-Jones says codes can't "...be left on the mantlepiece" and have to be useful when it comes to the crunch.

"The code needs to be tested and assessed whether it is doing its job correctly...this results in the high-level outcomes that people actually want."

FSC chief executive Richard Klipin said if any organisation is going to have a code, it has to have teeth and has to be tested.

Chairwoman of FSC Code Governance Committee and Head of Conduct and Culture at AIA, Amy Cunningham says codes are about people and bringing them to life in an organisation at a practical level should be encouraged.

"It needs to be available on the intranet, discussed at team meetings and annual meetings for staff...making sure those conversations are full of practical examples that are debatable by the staff."

She says they also show customers that the organisation is not just following the law in terms of standards, but are actually showing them those qualities and doing the right thing.

Tags: Code Committee compliance conduct Financial advice FSC

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