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Ethics Organization Launched to Enhance Global Corporate Citizenship

Submitted by: International Center for Corporate Accountability

Categories: Corporate Governance

Posted: Feb 27, 2003 – 11:00 PM EST


International Center for Corporate Accountability Inaugurated Will Create and Monitor Corporate Codes of Conduct

Feb. 27 /CSRwire/ - NEW YORK, NY - The Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, City University of New York and the International Center for Corporate Accountability (ICCA) announce the formation of a new organization to be directed by Dr. S. Prakash Sethi, University Distinguished Professor.

The model for ICCA is a highly successful Independent Monitoring Council (MIMCO) that was created by Mattel, Inc. in 1997 in affiliation with Zicklin School of Business.

MIMCO was created to monitor Mattel's compliance with its worldwide code of conduct called Global Manufacturing Principles (GMP). Mattel's GMP are the cornerstone of the company's ongoing commitment to responsible manufacturing practices around the world.

ICCA will absorb the activities currently performed by MIMCO and expand on them to encourage and assist other multinational corporations to create, implement and arrange independent monitoring of codes of conduct. Mattel is proud of its commitment to external and transparent auditing, previously accomplished through ICCA's predecessor, MIMCO. "The creation of ICCA is an excellent step in the development of independent monitoring and verification programs; and its broadened activities provide an opportunity for many companies to benefit from this model," says Robert Eckert, CEO of Mattel. True to its origins in MIMCO, ICCA will be a not-for-profit, independently incorporated organization. As an academically affiliated organization, ICCA will also undertake independent field research on aspects of corporate governance and accountability that normally fall outside the purview of corporate boards of directors, and engage in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders.

"The spirit behind ICCA complements Baruch College's Center for Financia Integrity," said Baruch College President Ned Regan. "The Center for Financial Integrity sponsors research and events to increase accountability and transparency in financial reporting and corporate governance." In concurring with ICCA's mission, Dean John Elliott of Zicklin School of Business stated: "The pioneering work in business ethics and accountability that ICCA represents is in perfect harmony with the Zicklin School's commitment to forward-looking policies and an international perspective on business issues."

ICCA will 1) assist companies in devising codes of conduct for their global supply chain 2) monitor compliance to these codes and 3) provide an unprecedented body of research on policies and procedures, strategies and standards that will assist large corporations, journalists, scholars and policymakers in the rapidly changing field of workers' human rights, sustainable development and discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity and gender.

"We have gained considerable real-life experience in monitoring corporate compliance with codes of conduct," states Dr. Sethi, formerly Chairperson of MIMCO and now President of ICCA. "While there are indeed substantial problems in carrying out field audits that are both transparent and objective, we have demonstrated that these audits can indeed be successfully conducted while protecting the corporation's legitimate competitive interests and at the same time furthering the goal of fair treatment of workers in terms of wages and overtime, and ensuring that factories operate in a safe manner and are cognizant of workers health and safety conditions."

ICCA will be governed by a board of directors comprised of scholars and representatives of public interest groups with extensive knowledge and experience in developing countries in issues pertaining to children, poverty, and working conditions.

Mattel and MIMCO developed approaches to field audits that have met the test of objectivity, integrity and public trust. As Dr. Sethi observes, "The tremendous success of Mattel's independent audit and monitoring system suggests that the idea should be expanded to include other multinationals in a variety of industries who seek guidance in the crucial areas of governance and ethics."

ICCA has already been approached by a number of other multinational corporations to develop international codes of conduct or to advise in other issues of corporate citizenship especially as it applies in the international arena. The second company to agree to participate in an auditing program is Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, which operates one of the largest mining operations in the world in the Papua province of Indonesia. Freeport's Board put in place a Social, Employment and Human Rights Policy in 1999. Freeport and its Board now wish to audit how the Policy has been implemented and whether the Board's goals have been realized. David Lowry, Freeport's Vice President-Social and Community Affairs said of the audit process, "Just preparing for an audit has been a great help. Having outside, objective eyes looking at what you are doing, helps clarify one's vision and purpose. That the process is painful from time-to-time in no way diminishes its value."

In its inaugural year, ICCA is collaborating with Baruch's Zicklin School to hold an international conference on corporate international codes of conduct. The conference will bring together representatives from all institutional sectors with stake in improving the working and living conditions of workers, enhancing economic growth, and environmental protection in developing countries. These include: multinational corporations, trade/industry associations, UN-affiliated organizations, international and regional financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, and academic scholars engaged in cutting-edge research in issues of globalization and the role of corporations and private economic institutions in economic growth and sustainable development. The conference is tentatively scheduled to take place in March-April, 2004.

For more information, please contact:

Charles Riley Baruch College
Phone: +1-646-312-4021
S. Prakash Sethi Baruch College
Phone: +1-646-312-2236


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