The common practices of Business Ethics

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Approach of the business ethics is very common today, not only theoretically but also practically. Even if the society we live in the dynamic and unstable economic environment dominated by competition put a lot of barriers to those who are guided by the principles of ethics in their daily life or business, there are many „survivors" which do not stand away to demonstrate that ethics is a necessity and moreover it is profitable.

In many cases it has been proved that ethics is a necessity and observing the ethics principles leads to better results on all levels. Also experience shows that business ethics is a profitable investment especially for a long term, creating a lasting positive image of any companies or individuals.

According many expert opinions - here including Peter Drucker - there is no difference between everyday life ethics and business ethics. An open mind and generous man, an ambitious person, a liar or even an intriguing guy behaves in the same way at work and outside. However, in terms of exercising professional responsibilities a particular approach to ethics it is required [1].

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Ethics is perhaps the best advertisement that a company can do for its self.

Business ethics need not to be demonstrated, if some accept that economic life is part of our society we could not exist without, and we cannot live in chaos without some rules and moral principles, then it is understood that an economic system cannot last, cannot bring prosperity to the people unless is based on practice on ethics.

Fundamental relationship that mostly the problems of business ethics focuses on is in fact the conflict between the economic performance of the enterprise, measured in revenue, costs, profits or debts and its social performance, much more difficult to judge, represented by the obligations to the employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, distributors or to the public.

Ethics in business

Business ethics need not to be demonstrated, if some accept that economic life is part of our society we could not exist without, and we cannot live in chaos without some rules and moral principles, then it is understood that an economic system cannot last, cannot bring prosperity to the people unless is based a practice on ethics.

This practice may be suggested by the following principles of business ethics:

1. Respect the confidentiality of information

by the employee in relation to the company

by the supplier in relation to the customers

by the negotiator in relation to the customers

2. Sensitivity to conflicts of interest:

to detect and avoid them if possible;

transparency

to ask for to neutral arbitrators to solve them

3. Respect for rules of law:

even if the law is considered inadequate by the business people from abroad

some extreme situations may be excepted

4. Professional conscience, competence:

exercise of profession with conscience and precaution

encouraging the professional competence

limiting decisions and actions to professional competence

5. Loyalty and good faith:

not to betray

to keep one's word

6. Sense of responsibility:

to consider the practical consequences of the decisions

to assume your own responsibility

7. Observance of rights and freedoms of the others:

freedom of behavior, freedom of opinion

to avoid discrimination of any kind

8. Respect for human beings:

not to harm the others deliberately

to respect human personality, its needs and expressions

These principles can guide any business man whose credo must be: „to feel that you cannot operate without integrity, professionalism, respect for people and receptivity to the customers on a market" [3].

Institutionalization of ethics within the organization

Ethical behavior in business can be both a matter of survival of the organization and a responsible living one of the individuals. In order to increase the level of ethics within the company, ethics should be institutionalized, bundled with the object of the company. This actually means placing ethics in everyday business life, as a rule and explicitly.

Company codes are the simplest means of institutionalizing of ethics and they may be found in many cases. The most responsible organizations actually combine these methods thus encouraging and supporting ethical behavior inside and outside of them.

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Existence of a code of ethics is not a guarantee that the company employees will take up an ethical behavior, but it may reflect the company cult for appreciation and compensation of ethical behavior.

Ethical conduct must be sensitively dynamic to the changes of values and habits as well as to the changes between cultures, which will happen in time for sure.

Any code of conduct cannot hope defining appropriate moral and ethical conduct for each situation we are going to face. One of the most important principles of our policy is the opening.

Effective implementation of ethics by means of code of ethics within the organization involves four major processes:

a) training the employees to recognize ethically difficult situations and to understand the code properly;

b) periodically supervision of employees behavior,

c) ethically assessment of management and results,

d) using a system of measures that rewards people with correct behavior and punish those ones whose behaviors is abnormal.

Some companies are content with their managers signing an annual statement they read the code, they understood it and they will observe it. But this is not enough to implement standards of ethics.

An effective program of ethics training is not a seminar or conference or a charter to be signed and then returned to senior management; training the employees to recognize ethical issues and to act accordingly is a facette of professional socialization and can be achieved through a combination of formal and informal learning.

No matter the type of internal organization is in order ethical principles to be observed each company will have to take into account the object of the company, its experience, internal culture and national strategy and the personality of its leaders as well. In fact, the institutionalization of ethics depends on these factors.

GDF SUEZ Group Presentation

In July 2008, following the merger of Gaz de France and Suez group, the global energy leader GDF SUEZ was established.

One of the first global energy players, GDF SUEZ is present throughout the entire energy chain from production to sale in electric power and natural gas.

Putting the responsible development as a center of its activities, the Group gets the mission to meet the major challenges of the future: energy demand, ensuring security of supply, combating the climate changes and effective use of resources.

In a world where energy and the environment are the central major concerns overrunning the economic and industrial considerations, GDF SUEZ puts its continuous development at the base of its strategy.

In order to react to these challenges GDF SUEZ gets an investment plan of 30 billion Euros for 2008-2011.

GDF SUEZ benefits by a diversified supply portfolio and a farm of flexible and efficient electricity production and thus is able to propose to the domestic consumers, communities and companies innovative solutions. Listed on Brussels, Luxembourg and Paris Stock Exchanges, GDF SUEZ is represented by the most important international indices: CAC 40, BEL 20, DJ Stoxx 50, Euronext 100, FTSE Eurotop 100, MSCI Europe and ASPI Eurozone.

GDF SUEZ is a world reference in the energy sector, a leading group well-known famous for its high industrial capacities and well positioned in relation to tomorrow's demands for security, procurement, sustainable development and fighting against global warming.

Being a Group of reference is an important asset so that it can be perceived as such in a sector where confidence of private and industrial consumers, public authorities and third parties is crucial.

But this fact is also - and before all - a requirement: a requirement of respect, of conscience of special responsibilities. This is a daily requirement and is ethics the lead manager of GDF SUEZ business.

It accompanies long-term industrial vision in any context, whether it is disturbed or not. Ethics begins by applying values of GDF SUEZ, values designated by the 200,000 employees of the Group. Across the world, its values bring them together around a shared common foundation.

Exigency ensures long-term performance for all third parties involved, looking for continuous efficiency and innovation for the benefit of customers and public service.

Commitment harmonizes development of the Group with respect for the planet, providing essential services to the people.

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Cohesion mobilizes forces in a common team spirit to make sustainable sources progress and development of energy and environment and represents a main feature of this organization.

GDF SUEZ core figures (semester I 2010) [4]

200 000 - employees at the international level;

79,9 billions of Euro - capital turnover;

92,1 GW - installed power capacities at December 31, 2009;

8,8 billions of Euro - net investment;

1200 experts and researchers in 8 Development and Research Centres.

GDF SUEZ Romania energy core figures [4]

4630 employees;

1,3 millions of customers;

market leader in gas supply with a market share of around 50% on a regulated market in 2009;

the third natural gas supplier with a market share of 11% on the open market in 2009

16.000 km of managed networks;

18 serviced districts in the south of the country and in Bucharest.

Implementing ethics within GDF SUEZ

One year after merger that established the Group the Executive Committee has developed the ethics policy and the two founding texts: GDF SUEZ Ethics Charter and the Guide of Ethical Practice, which have been validated by the Board of Directors.

Charter of the new Group joins into a comprehensive and ambitious policy of ethics whose objective is, firstly, to put ethics in a strategy of management and professional practices and, secondly, to provide resources on organizing its management and coordination facility, so that compliance with taken commitments can be evaluated.

Ethics Charter applies to all employees and entities in the group.

In order to encourage ethical behavior of the employees and to act according to the laws and regulations, the Group has established the organizational structure Ethics and Compliance.

Decisions developed within this framework apply to the entire Group.

Ethical principles can be summarized in four simple messages: to act in accordance with laws and regulations, culture of moral integrity to be settled, to prove loyalty and honesty, to be respected by the others. These are the core concepts applicable to all professional gestures, everywhere where GDF SUEZ is worldwide present. A good reputation is hard won but easily lost, so that each group member of the Group must participate rigorously at the construction and protection of the Group reputation.

Ethics is an essential dimension of the successful industrial and human project GDF SUEZ.

Principles of ethics and the area of participants

GDF SUEZ organizational values express themselves by their way of acting.

Ethics of the Group is recognized in the fundamental principles which guide behaviors: compliance with laws and regulations, integrity, loyalty, honesty and respect for people. GDF SUEZ ethical principles are:

To act according to the laws and regulations - As a general rule and in any circumstances, the Group's employees must comply with international, federal, state, local regulations and rules of professional ethics related to their activities as well. The Group's employees must have the same behavior for unilateral decisions and other regulations issued by the Group.

To settle a culture of integrity - The entire staff must understand that the Group's reputation is based on their acts. It is therefore imperative that each must act morally in all circumstances and promote the culture of integrity.

To prove loyalty and honesty - For GDF SUEZ, a relationship quality is based on loyalty and honesty of participants, especially in execution of contract. These qualities require taken commitments to be respected and to be familiar with all capabilities in order to avoid uncovered promises.

To respect the others - Demanded to all employees during the exercise of their professional activities, the respect for others governs also the relationships of each GDF SUEZ entity with its employees. This principle leads the Group policy in respect of privacy, diversity and fight against other discriminations or harassment prevention and enforcement.

Rules of Ethics apply specifically to the three circles where the company exercises its activities:

Circle of the Group - consisting of its employees, entities and shareholders

Circle of the market - inside of which relationships are with customers, suppliers and competitors;

Circle of society surrounding the Group, where it is present.

A more rigorous ethics in business conduct is a guarantee of improvement for the three reunited circles: group, market and society. In parallel with the emergence of new ways to regulate the global economy, a higher ethical exigence corresponds to the expected evolution of the parties.

Each employee of the Group must integrate the ethical principles of GDF SUEZ in his activity. On this purpose, the coordination system clearly defines responsibilities of each level.

GDF SUEZ leaders are the first guarantors of applying the Group's Ethical Charter. On this purpose, they must acquire the tools to control the implementation and detect errors on implementing its rules. They also must establish a control system of ethics and compliance enforcement devices.

Organization founded by GDF SUEZ in ethics and compliance enables regular assessment of knowledge and individual behavior. Responsible for implementation of a device of ethics and compliance procedures, Direction of Ethics and Compliance of the Group ensures proper development of ethical audits and special investigations. In cooperation with Juridical, Audit and Risk, Internal Control Departments, it ensures that in case of inobservance of GDF SUEZ policies appropriate measures shall be decided and implemented.

Conclusions

Analysing the way the concept was implemented in business ethics at the GDF SUEZ, conclusion is that a sustainable business is an ethics business and it should be based on:

Exigence ensures long-term performance for all third parties involved, looking for continuous efficiency and innovation for the benefit of customers and public service.

Commitment harmonizes development of the Group with respect for the planet, providing essential services to the people.

Boldness which allows us to live the present time optimistically and to build the future with creativity.

GDF SUEZ ethical principles can be summarized in four simple messages:

to act in accordance with laws and regulations;

culture of moral integrity to be settled;

to prove loyalty and honesty;

to pay respected to the others.

These are all key concepts applicable to Gaz de France SUEZ Group, is present everywhere on the globe. The only relevant proposals that can be stated refer to a continuation developing business on ethical principles.

Within the context companies are not judged only for their economic performance but also for their contributions to the communities they operate in, another proposal refers to the materialization of all GDF SUEZ Energy Romania preoccupations concerning social responsibilities as long as it is possible.