A global commitment to compliance
Lawful and responsible conduct is mandatory for all employees in the Bayer Group and we do not tolerate infringements of the law. This is set out in our Corporate Compliance Policy, which contains a strict ban on corruption and anti-competitive practices. It specifically fosters the creation and safeguarding of fair and respectful working conditions and contains a clear commitment to respect intellectual property rights. It also forms the basis for our sustainability principles. Corporate Auditing reviews the effectiveness of the Corporate Compliance Policy at regular intervals on behalf of the Group Compliance Committee.
The Corporate Compliance Policy brochure is available in 38 languages and compliance information is published in the intranet Group-wide in German, English, French and Spanish. Here, employees can also find details of how to contact compliance officers, together with the phone numbers of local compliance hotlines, which are organized either nationally or regionally. In countries where we have not been able to set up a local compliance hotline for legal or organizational reasons, this function is fulfilled by ombudsmen or compliance officers.
A web-based training program, “Corporate Compliance Basics,” has been developed to accompany the Corporate Compliance Policy, which was updated at the end of 2008. The first group of around 900 employees from two of our German companies has already completed this training program and roll-out within the Group will continue in 2010. In parallel with this, we will be continuing our Group-wide employee training sessions on compliance to bring the importance of the issue home to employees.
Every Bayer employee is required to report any violation of this policy. The only exception is in France, where this reporting requirement is not applicable due to the nature of national law. In the event of proven violation of the compliance policy, the consequences range from a reprimand to dismissal, and may also include changes in business processes. In 2009, our global compliance hotline and e-mail address registered 57 reports – 27 from Germany and 30 from other countries. 43 of these were received by e-mail, including 19 anonymously, and 14 were phone calls, 11 of which were anonymous. All reports were investigated by the responsible compliance officers. In most cases where the investigations have been completed, no infringement of compliance principles has been found.
In Germany, each subgroup and service company has a compliance committee and there is at least one compliance officer and often a local compliance committee in every country where we operate. In April 2009, a new Group Directive on Compliance Organization came into effect. This sets out the clear and binding responsibilities of the compliance officers, defines reporting lines and integrates the established hotline system. In connection with this new regulation, in 2009 we introduced a standardized training concept for our compliance officers, covering the responsibilities associated with this function, and held our first Compliance Officer Training Workshop in September. The workshops, which also aim to foster networking between compliance officers and the creation of a Group-wide compliance community, will be continued in 2010.
Compliance officers are also expected to become more involved in verifying and approving payment instructions. To support this, we issued a procedure on verifying payment transactions in 2009. Payments to external parties are checked by the accounting departments from a range of viewpoints. In cases of doubt, the matter should be passed on to the responsible compliance officer, who will then decide whether to approve or halt the payment.
In 2010, we plan to introduce a global database where local compliance officers will be required to enter compliance issues that are drawn to their attention and investigated. In parallel with the introduction of this tool, a Group-wide regulation will be issued defining how to conduct investigations when suspected infringements of compliance rules are reported.
To anchor compliance even more firmly at senior management level, an initiative to integrate compliance into performance management for Group executives (members of the Group Leadership Circle) was introduced in 2009. From 2010, a compliance target will be included in the performance objectives agreed with every executive and taken into account in their annual appraisal. They are required to compile an overview of the potential risks in their area of responsibility, prepare and implement a risk limitation plan and report regularly on its progress. Systematic violation of the law in their area of responsibility that has damaged the Bayer Group can have serious implications for executives if suitable measures could have prevented them from occurring.