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Corporate culture, not illegal, but very damaging

AWB had a “closed culture that did not accord with the statements in AWB’s code of conduct,” said Mr T Cole.

The Cole report, released yesterday states: “The conduct of AWB and its officers was due to a failure in corporate culture.”

“Legislation cannot destroy such a culture or create a satisfactory one. That is the task of boards and the management of companies. The starting point is an ethical base,” the report says.

Organisational surveys and research, such as those provided by Insync Surveys, can serve as early warning systems for a lack of alignment between values and the day-to-day reality in an organisation.

From the NAB forex crisis to the AWB scandal, lack of measurement, poor measurement and lack of follow up can all be immensely costly to careers, reputations and shareholder returns.

The Cole report says AWB failed to follow the recommendations of consultants in 2000, who encouraged them to survey their ethical culture and foster a transparent environment where employees are encouraged to report incidents, risks and improper conduct.

Mr Cole noted this recommendation as proof that AWB’s culture had required attention for many years.

James Garriock, Insync Surveys’ Chief Operating Officer, said: “Employee surveys can be used to reveal underlying issues that can potentially explode into major ethical problems. Organisastions that undertake employee surveys are taking the proactive steps to detect and address unhealthy cultures.”

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