For many years we have seen that, when December arrives, we regularly receive gifts from our suppliers: bottles of liquor, invitations to dinner, notebooks, agendas, food baskets, among others. However, we must ask ourselves … is this ethical?
There is no negative or positive response: this depends according to each case, depending on the sector, the supplier, the objective of the gift itself, who is it addressed to, the type of gift, the moment in which it is given, among other variables. So, what should we do about it?
As a company, it is important to establish guidelines on the acceptance – or not – of gifts. There are organizations, many pharmaceutical companies, for example, in which such acceptance is totally prohibited. Other conditions for the admission of these, and even for their use. For example:
Conditions for acceptance:
- They can only accept gifts up to a certain value.
- They can only accept merchandising gifts.
- They can only accept gifts that arrive at one of the headquarters of the organization, and are notified to the specific area.
- They can only accept gifts that are not related to leisure or entertainment.
Conditions for use:
- Accepted gifts will be shared among the members of the area in which the person to whom it is intended is located.
- Accepted gifts must be reported to the Ethics Committee.
- Accepted gifts must be raffled among all the employees of the organization.
To achieve this, many organizations expressly mention in their Codes of Ethics what is the policy of acceptance of gifts, not only from suppliers, but from the different interest groups with which the company relates. The important thing here is to demonstrate that this measure is establish so workers can act objectively and independently and that, in this way, the gifts do not negatively influence the relationships or decisions they have to make regarding third parties.
An additional and key point: this protocol must be applied to all members of the company. Implementing an ethical culture implies acting by example and, in that sense, directors, managers, managers and others must respect the provisions of the mentioned Code.