Business ethics run like a red thread through Hifab’s prioritized sustainability issues and is of utmost importance for our business. During the past year, we have had the opportunity to further strengthen and develop our work with business ethics and anti-corruption, which has led to many valuable lessons.
In 2018, the World Bank issued a sanction against Hifab International and Hifab Oy. In connection with this, Hifab, in consultation with the World Bank, developed an anti-corruption program that will be implemented on an ongoing basis in the coming years.
– This whole process has taught us a lot. Our anti-corruption program shows that Hifab is a company that takes responsibility and I see that as a strength, says Fredrik Holmström, Hifab’s sustainability manager.
During the spring of 2018, Hifab, together with an external specialist, conducted an internal survey to review routines in projects. The investigation showed, among other things, that processes concerning evaluation and management of risks needed to be developed. Work on structuring and creating clearer processes began and a concrete activity list was prepared. The activities were linked to how Hifab’s employees will work with business ethics in the future.
– In 2018, we have concentrated on our foreign operations with a focus on Bangladesh, where we have the majority of projects started. We see a need to work actively with anti-corruption in these geographical areas because there is a greater risk in this part of our business. We also have expectations and demands from our customers and financiers that we should have a structured work on the issues.
One of the activities for the year was to conduct an internal audit of an international project. Therefore, in the fall of 2018, Fredrik went down to Hifab’s office in Dhaka. The project he was to audit is a major investment program with the aim of developing the cities of Dhaka and Khulna in a sustainable manner. For a few intensive days, Fredrik conducted a dozen interviews, which later formed the basis for an audit report.
– The work that we carried out in Dhaka is called compliance and is really about seeing how we follow our set rules. In our case, it is also about ensuring that we actually have clear rules to follow, explains Fredrik.
All in all, based on the internal investigation, as well as the audit in Dhaka, risk management was assessed as a key factor in the business ethics work.
– We want to get systematic risk management already in the tender stage and we want our managers and projects leaders early to make conscious decisions.
Of course, this is not an individual for our foreign operations, but it applies throughout the organization.
The past year’s extensive compliance work and audit have given many lessons.
– The work has meant that we complement our business ethics work. In concrete terms, this means that we must further strengthen risk awareness among all our employees, and we will do this through, among other things, digital education that we will start rolling out in 2019.
– We have also begun work on further developing an anti-corruption policy that will strengthen and complement our Code of Conduct. The purpose is to provide a framework for how our employees should act and what rules to apply in our business. Briefly it is that we should become more aware, and to create awareness requires clear routines, education and transparency. Fredrik Holmström looks back on the past year and summarizes:
– The most important thing I have learnt is that this is an ongoing improvement work. A work we continually continue to develop within.