Manual for Azerbaijan companies Rena Safaralieva



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Conduct. Some companies, for example, law firms, might have a substantial volume for a code. For the 

sake of convenience, we will stick to the term “Code of Ethics”. Codes are aimed at making staff 

members clearly understand principles of corporate ethics. Companies design strategies to ensure that 

employees behave in accordance with these principles and, in addition, expect similar behavior from their 

colleagues.  

 

As a rule, codes state the main goals and values of a company. Codes are considered to form a foundation 



for the economic success of a company and are valued by government agencies, auditors, commercial 

structures, consumers, in a word, by all those stakeholders, involved in a company’s success. Moreover, 



codes  command the respect of a company’s staff. 

 

This was stated very convincingly by George Merck, son of the founder of Merck Corporation: “We try 

never to forget that medicine is for people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have 

remembered that, they have never failed to appear.”



41

 

 

Codes are very important for our country, because in many local companies people have no 



understanding of complexity of ethical dilemmas and possess a very vague notion of their responsibilities 

or the subtleties of building relations with management, colleagues, suppliers and others. A code is more 

than a list of rules. Provisions of codes ensure clear understanding of ethical norms, as applied in various 

situations, where laws fail to provide unambiguous answers. 

 

Preparation of ethics code shall be delegated to experts competent in this area. Prior to the compilation of 



a code, it is recommended that  a special questionnaire be prepared, addressed to all company employees, 

from rank and file staff members to managerial staff, to inquire into their opinions and wishes in respect 

to the future code. It is also highly recommended to discuss drafts of future codes with all employees in 

order to incorporate their comments. Codes establish general principles of the life of an organization and 

govern all personnel from chief executive to support staff.  

 

Structure of codes 

 

Codes consequently reflect relations of a company with all parties involved as described below.  

 

Consumers - codes provide for timely supply of high quality goods and services.  

Employees  – codes ensure safe workplace and healthy work environment, guarantee fair and just 

treatment of every employee, respect for human dignity and rights.  



Suppliers – codes stand for development of sustainable and mutually beneficial co-operation, based on the 

principle of fair competition.  



Society and civil groups - this means an explicit desire to act as responsible citizens and contribute to the 

development of civil society. Support of cultural values and strengthening of civil institutions can serve as 

an illustration of this principle’s implementation. For example, Volkswagen supports numerous cultural 

programs. In particular, in 2000 this company announced a competition for a grant to study the history of 

a local community. Representatives of Azerbaijan also participated. The World Bank has supported 

programs aimed at introduction of civil studies at Azerbaijan’s secondary schools. There are many other 

examples of corporate support in such areas.  

Competitors - codes require to abstain from unfair competition and prevent formation of monopolies in 

the market.  



Investors – codes recognize the right of investors for profit.  

  

In recent years many codes also cover another  important problem, namely, the  attitude of a company 



toward environmental protection.  

 

A multi-national Chiquita Banana company states in its code that the company has invested $20 million 



in a project on upgrading of infrastructure, control systems, monitoring of water quality, organization of 

special training on environmental protection for their employees. This activity has resulted in a different 

                                                 

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 Our Standards and Values, Publication by  Merck Corporation  




attitude of employees towards the environment and their ambition to reduce quantities of pesticides and 

restore depleting forestation. 

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The Code of Sequa Corporation underlines that all operations of the company shall carefully  respect and 

protect the environment, including water, air and land utilization. The company’s policy aims at strict 

implementation of the latest decrees of relevant federal, national and local regulatory agencies.

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Political activities. Codes of nearly all major companies require that corporations not render illegal or 

biased assistance to political processes. Any allocation of funds with a purpose of political influence can 

be made only with permission of management. Of course, a company’s employees are entitled to take part 

in political life as individuals, but they are prohibited to use their work time, property or finances of their 

company for personal political involvement.  

 

Entertainment and gifts policy. Codes draw a strict line between an acceptable limit of entertainment and 

gifts and define what shall be qualified as a bribe. For example, BP internal regulations require that any 

gift or service accepted by a staff member be recorded in a special register. Management subsequently 

must make a decision with respect to such a gift or service. Every region has its own provisions, 

regulating procedures of gift giving and taking. 

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 Many companies also set a gift cost limit, which can 



not be trespassed either for gifts to be accepted, or presented.  

 

Out-of-office business activities. As a rule, codes clearly define out-of-office activities of their staff 

members. Most companies prohibit simultaneous employment with another employer in the same sector 

of industry. However, exception for research and teaching industries can be made.  

 

Confidential information. Codes set forth notion of confidentiality. This issue is discussed in more detail 

in Chapter II.  



 

Conflict between personal and corporate interests. No company shall be denied a right to act in its own 

interests, even if this principle contradicts personal interests of some of its employees. When does a 

conflict of interest emerge? As a rule, a conflict of interest occurs when company employees are involved 

in some external relations that may affect their business decisions or have the potential to do so. Chapter 

II discusses conflicts of interest and ways to eliminate them in more detail. Codes shall contain clear 

instructions for employees, enabling them to avoid conflicts of interest and, in case of emergence of such 

conflicts, to successfully solve ethical dilemmas.  

 

Codes may include any provisions regulating relations with employees, customers, partners, investors, 



local communities or any other stakeholders, provided that such provisions do not contradict legislation in 

force. For example, Statoil internal ethical regulation states that “Local procedures will be detailed on the 

company's disciplinary actions and their compliance with local law and regulations.”   

 

Sample business ethics code for Azerbaijan companies is offered in Appendix 1,  while Appendices 3  



and 4 state fundamental ethical principles of respectively, Shell and Exxon/Mobil companies.     

 

Communication on ethical violations.   Whistleblower. 



 

It shall be recognized that communication of ethics violations can be regarded as unethical in itself. Here 

we see a clear sample of a contradiction between universal and local ethics, discussed in Chapter I.  

 

 In Azerbaijan, any kind of complaining is viewed as “sneaking” or, at the very best, looking for trouble. 



A whistleblower is either hated or secretly admired, because “someone has to have the guts to speak the 

truth”. There are many reasons behind such an approach, one of them being the “do not be conspicuous” 

principle, originating from the Soviet mentality and absence of deep democratic traditions.  

 

                                                                                                                                                                            



42

 CHIQUITA BRANDS INTERNATIONAL, INC. Corporate Responsibility Report 

43

 Sequa Corporation Code of Business Conduct  



44

 Ethical Conduct Section, Business Policies, June, 2000, BP

 

publication



 



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