The implementation of the Ghana Business Code (GHBC), has gone a notch higher, with the commitment of 13 companies to undergo third party evaluation by Corporate Social Responsibility specialists for certification.
The companies include Unilever, Tropical Cable and Conductors Limited, Toyota Ghana and Margins.
“The commitment of the companies to be appraised along the requirements of the code is a giant step forward,” Mr. Ben Oduro, Improving Business Practice (IBP) Project Manager said at a pre-lunch dinner of the GHBC Clearing House in Accra.
He stressed: “This moves the process from one of self-assessment as it has been, to certification.”
The companies will be assessed on the protection of the right by employees to work, the right to a living wage, the right to family life, health, the right to safe and healthy working environment, the right to freedom of association as well as the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
Other areas include upholding the effective abolition of child labour, elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour, discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, discrimination against an employee because of gender, ‘race’, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed, social status, physical challenge, economic status or political persuasion in hiring, firing or promotion; and showing commitment to work against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.
The GHBC which is based on the UN Global Compact; is a set of norms developed by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Ghana Employers Association and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It is expected to focus on performance measurements of businesses operating in Ghana at the bottom line of profit and social and environmental responsibilities and strengthen the long-term prospects of individual businesses.
Mr Oduro said companies, which had signed the code could apply for the GHBC certificate, when their business operations were reviewed and in line with the prescriptions of the code.
“An evaluation will then be conducted by a top auditing firm to show if the company is living up to the tenets of the Code,” he said.
He said the IBP could support companies, which would seek the certification by filling the GHBC report and during the review of their operations.
Mr Oduro said a GHBC Clearing House would be launched later in the year to review the request for certification from companies.
Mr Stig Barlyng, Danish Ambassador, said current global trends had shown that successful businesses must operate within international accepted standards.
He said commitment to ethical and transparent behaviour in business would not only allow businesses to survive in the competitive environment but also ensure sustainable growth and enhanced shareholder value.
“The cost of dishonesty in business is becoming high and … companies which climb to the top through corrupt means… soon find out that they can’t sustain the gains,” Mr Barlyng said.
He lauded the companies, which had made the commitment to go through the certification process, and urged them to complete the procedure to serve as examples to other companies.
Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade, said the major principles of the GHBC had been fashioned along the lines of the various legislations on the protection of the right of workers.
She said it was important that businesses understand that the current global market required certain standards and therefore, efforts needed to be made to meet those responsibilities.
Ms Tetteh urged the various business associations to promote the Code among members so that it would become a nationwide standard for business practice.
Mr Tony Oteng-Gyasi, President of AGI called on companies, which had signed on to the code to make efforts to undergo the certification process.
He said as companies become more linked to the global economy, third party certification would become an essential part of playing in the international market.
Mr Oteng-Gyasi said members of the business community should adopt international best practices to compete successfully on local and foreign markets.
The Ghana Business Code, which was launched on October 25, 2006, offers the opportunity for local businesses to acquire international status.
Currently 150 companies had signed up to the code.