Business ethics essential


Global-spanning enterprises such as the Ericsson Group encounter both old and new challenges on a daily basis. In many countries there are entirely or partially different legal, cultural and social rules, for example, than in the group's home country of Sweden. The risk of employees unwittingly misunderstanding and making mistakes is therefore larger. Understanding and partially adapting to existing local and regional customs and practices is an equally important and unavoidable  aspect in a multinational business's operations.

Ericsson's goal however, has always been that customers all over the world will be able to rely on the company's correct conduct at all times. And to ensure that its employees everywhere observe certain common rules. Ericsson has thus prepared a code of business ethics that serve as a guide for all relations at the company, both internal and external.

The business code, which was most recently updated in 2006, contains rules for how Ericsson's employees are to conduct themselves in relations with colleagues, customers, suppliers and shareholders. It therefore covers such topics as the importance of complying with applicable rules and directives, including legislation regulating insider trade, protection of customers' and suppliers' confidential information and more. Other essential provisions are the necessity of treating employees with respect, observance of human rights and environmental protection.

At Ericsson, all line managers are responsible for information about the company's rules, expectations and demands being regularly received by both new and old employees, who are all obligated to personally sign a confirmation form. By signing this document, which is required each year, all employees confirm that they have read and understood the business code's content and intent.

Signing of Ericsson's business code has been conducted digitally since 2006 – at the same time and in a uniform manner – for all employees. This makes the process more effective and eliminates much of the resource - and time-consuming administration that would be required if all employees were to sign on paper. The code's significance is emphasized in other ways as well, including being treated as a key section of a number of the company's web-based training packages.

Author: Anders Edwardsson

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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