Transparency, a new demand in construction

Transparency is on its way to being as important for companies as quality standards, and much more so in construction, where the demand for compliance with ethical codes is growing to work with international companies and even with Argentine state companies.

The issue was addressed last week by Hugo Wortman Jofré, president of Poder Ciudadano, and head of the Integrity Council of the Argentine Chamber of Construction (Camarco), in a meeting held at the Córdoba subsidiary.

On March 1, 2018, when Law 27,401, known as the Legal Entity Criminal Liability Law, came into force, which applies this type of liability to companies for the acts of the people who manage them. Among the requirements, several are linked to improving its management in ethical and integrity matters.

Based on this, Camarco issued its own code of ethics, to which 30% of the 1,300 companies nationwide adhere (with more participation from large companies than from SMEs) and 70% of the 137 partners in Córdoba, creating their own codes of ethics. This reinforces it with training.

“Camargo, as a chamber, does not have the authority to impose anything on companies. We try to convince them to adopt this, which is a horizon of good practices, which covers all the company’s activity. The objective is to improve the level of transparency of the construction sector in general”, explained Wortman Jofré.

How to drive change

In this there are simple cases, such as the owner of a logistics company who finds that part of the distribution was done violating traffic regulations and that, in practice, they had naturalized.

“The question is whether in my company we are going to earn money and respect customer orders within the law or outside of it. In addition, a review of the procedures must be carried out at all levels of the company with the intervention of senior management. This allows us to think about changes that, when they are solid and are built on the basis of culture and effort, are not made overnight”, he clarified.

Other aspects that are under review are gifts from companies to public officials (a certain level of gifts constitutes a crime, since it is considered a gift), or the private use by a member of the company of tools and elements of a factory or an office. These are practices that are rooted within companies.

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“In the Nordic countries, they are judging a secretary because with the corporate card she bought a perfume at an airport,” he warned.

But there are others that are more complex, and that are not included among the crimes linked to corruption, such as the case of workplace or sexual harassment. “Companies must establish the mechanisms for resolving these conflicts, whether it has to be prosecuted or not, how the privacy of the victims is respected,” he clarified.

According to the specialist, Law 27,401 has been in force for five years, but until now there has been no case in the Argentine Justice regarding violations of its provisions. So why so much effort to bring about these changes? It happens that beyond the business ethical commitment, the market is increasingly demanding in the application of standards of transparency, ethics and integrity, as well as that business practices are auditable.

“The most important thing in cultural change is to click towards the world to come. It is a change that is coming worldwide. It began with the Anglo-Saxon countries, then the Europeans from the continent took it and now it reaches our territory. If we are going to want to have credit from international organizations and banks, if we are going to want to play in the first leagues, we are going to have to acquire these practices. Terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking and corruption are going to stop being tolerable crimes, ”he stressed.

Within this framework, he announced that national state companies such as Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos (Aysa) and Aerolíneas Argentinas are requiring their suppliers to register in the Registry of Integrity and Transparency for Companies and Entities (Rite), of the Anti-Corruption Office of the national Government .

In addition, he commented that the Mendoza government has just launched a tender that includes an integrity program as a condition.

For the holder of Poder Ciudadano, resolving these problems allows “to clean up the company to face the problems that may appear linked to corruption. This comes like a wave that has already reached Mexico, Chile and Peru”.

Offenses. Law 27,401 establishes that legal entities will only be able to be investigated for crimes related to corruption, such as bribery, gifts, incompatible negotiation and false balance.

Written by Argentina News

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