Saab does business in hundreds of countries, which means that sometimes the company encounters attitudes that contradict the very strict ethical policy that governs all Saab’s transactions and relationships.
“Long-term relationships in the markets where we operate are good for our business, and these relationships can only be built on trust and respect,” says Saab’s head of Group Legal Affairs Annika Bäremo. “Here, of course, a cornerstone is a clear ethical value system and an uncompromising approach to unethical business practices.”
Her colleague Petter Törnquist, head of the Ethics and Compliance Department, works with market network management (MNM) to continually identify and manage the potential for improvement in Saab’s anti-corruption work.
“We have customers throughout the world,” he says. “Contracts are extremely large, and the sales cycles are long. All this opens the
way to significant risks of corruption. The greatest risk arises in relation to the marketing consultants and local companies we cooperate with to get closer to the market and customer.”
THE ETHICS and Compliance Department designs and updates the relevant regulations and supports other functions in the company by providing assessments in ethically complex issues. At the same time, MNM is actively developing the process and management of the assessment and hiring of marketing consultants. MNM is also responsible for developing and updating procedures and documentation for engaging consultants.
Any part of Saab that wants to engage marketing consultants must first justify their use and conduct a corruption risk analysis – something that precedes every business and marketing initiative.
“The intention is that each business decision should be based on a well-thought-out and documented analysis of the risks associated with the business case,” says Bäremo. “The risk of corruption is one of several types of risks that must be assessed. If the risks identified cannot be dealt with satisfactorily, we withdraw from the deal.”
Consultants must undergo extensive vetting through interviews to check that their conduct is irreproachable before they are engaged by the company. To ensure that the consultant and Saab have the same views on how to do business, the vetting is followed by anti-corruption training and instruction in Saab’s business ethics.
Bengt Gustavsson, head of MNM, says, “If everything goes well, we prepare a contract that includes ethical business commitments, ongoing reporting requirements and Saab’s right to carry out an audit at any time. The contract periods are short, generally lasting only two years, and have to be actively extended.”
For the past couple of years Saab has had a new marketing organisation with strong local representation. As the organisation matures, there is a clear ambition to reduce the dependence on marketing consultants in the long term.
An increasing proportion of the remaining consultants will be paid a monthly remuneration. This work will continue and be intensified during 2015.