Compliance means ensuring that rules (whether they are laws, standards, guidelines, contracts, or internal procedures) are followed. Naturally, this includes routinely applying our values, morality and ethics in a standard business context, and the ARTS Group considers that it has an obligation to maintain standards. This ethical and operational position is essential to a sustainable business and comes naturally to us as we act as a business partner to a wide range of industrial enterprises that place a similarly high value on confidentiality, data protection and equality. A values-driven enterprise culture is not simply a challenge that we set for ourselves: instead, it is a requirement for the environment in which we operate. For this reason, a set of behavioural rules to govern ARTS’ internal and external behaviours is extremely important to us, and we have incorporated these rules into our Compliance Standards.
The current compliance barometer, maintained by the business law firm, CMS, shows that 83% of German businesses who responded to their survey have their own behavioural and compliance standards, and that they are increasingly expanding their training activities to highlight those standards. ARTS is no different in that respect. To ensure and encourage appropriate behaviours, our leaders and employees receive preparatory training as part of their employee onboarding or at project kick-off.
This provides new employees with the tools they need to make the correct decisions in difficult situations while minimising risks. Our standards focus on preventing discrimination and bribery while encouraging confidentiality and sensitivity at all levels of the business.
Accordingly, we have set out guidelines in respect of the following:
Naturally, our processes are continually monitored for conformity. Clearly, the Legal department cannot do this alone: instead, we work closely alongside our Quality Management team, which is responsible for monitoring processes and integrating our behavioural codes into our business processes. In addition, we receive an annual visit from TÜV Süd to check our business processes in line with ISO 9001. As such, we ensure that our compliance is not merely written down but is sustainably integrated into our business operations. Indeed, our processes are currently undergoing recertification to the ISO 9001 standard. The Quality Management team and the respective process owners are primarily responsible for working together and preparing for the external audit, checking each process step, and ensuring that rules governing health and safety at work are followed. Meanwhile, we ensure that everything is properly documented. This documentation has now become an a well-rehearsed processes for us, not least because we are already familiar with it from our quality management projects, where we support our customers in industry as they prepare for and follow up on audits.
Adherence to our Compliance Standards is as important to the formation of contracts as it is to our process definition and delivery. Laws governing equality, data protection and confidentiality must be complied with and, for this reason, our processes require that we always enter into a confidentiality agreement (also known as an NDA) in parallel with our customer contracts, while our employees are specifically obliged to ensure that data remains confidential.
At all times, we aim to ensure that our contracts and processes are free from loopholes and mistakes. As such, we in the Legal team are constantly obliged to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to compliance, and to use professional research tools and the latest legal judgements as inputs for the definition of our Compliance Standards and contractual terms. For example, the new European General Data Protection regulation will impose new standards for the processing of personal data from May 2018 onwards. Naturally, this will have an impact on our Compliance Standards and on the content of our contracts.
ARTS has an open corporate culture, in which anyone can raise any questions or concerns they may have. In the Legal Team, we are happy to discuss the topics of compliance, legal obligations, and contract formation at ARTS in greater detail, as this openness with one another helps us to check and adjust our internal compass at ARTS on an ongoing basis.
Sources: CMS Legal