The Beerenberg group’s ethical guidelines are designed to ensure that everyone acting on behalf of the company goes about their business in an ethical manner and in line with the company’s values and principles on business practices and personal conduct.
1.1 The main object of the ethical guidelines
The ethical guidelines are intended to ensure that everyone who acts on behalf of the Beerenberg Group performs his or her activities in an ethically sound manner and in line with the Group’s values and principles for commercial practice and personal behaviour.
1.2 To whom the guidelines apply
The guidelines apply to all the companies in the Beerenberg Group in Norway and abroad, hereinafter called “Beerenberg”. The guidelines apply to the enterprise and each individual employee, to members of the board of directors, hired personnel, consultants, agents and other intermediaries, lobbyists and others who act on behalf of Beerenberg, hereinafter called “the employee”. This document was approved by the board of directors of Beerenberg Corp. AS on 28 August 2013.
1.3 Paramount requirements for the employee
Beerenberg is subject to both Norwegian legislation and current legislation in those countries where Beerenberg conducts operations at all times. Violations of laws and the ethical guidelines constitute a threat to the company’s reputation and competitiveness. All employees are personally responsible for operating within current legislation and the ethical guidelines for Beerenberg.
2. Beerenberg’s commercial practice
2.1 Business method
Beerenberg shall be known as a reliable company that delivers quality on time.
Suppliers, customers and partners shall have confidence in the Group and its employees. The Group and the employees therefore commit themselves to comply with current Acts and Regulations, live up to a high ethical standard and take active social responsibility in their conduct of business. The employee shall comply with the rules and guidelines the customer has laid down for the individual assignment, including the requirements that apply to being on the customer’s property outside working hours.
Beerenberg shall encourage its business associates to live up to ethical standards that correspond to Beerenberg’s ethical requirements.
Beerenberg shall have a business culture that is character- ised by the company’s value basis:
2.2 Fair competition
Beerenberg shall compete within the competition regula- tions applicable to the market in which the company is operating, and otherwise with integrity and in an ethically sound manner.
The employee shall focus on Beerenberg’s competitive edges, and shall avoid emphasising the weaknesses of the competition or others in the industry.
2.3 Fighting corruption
Corruption can lead to a distortion of competition, under- mining legal business activity, maintaining poverty and oppression and it exposes the company to risk and loss of reputation. All forms of corruption are unacceptable in Beerenberg.
Corruption takes many forms. If an employee tries to influence someone in the performance of their duties by giving or offering them an unlawful or improper benefit, for example, this is bribery. It could also be trading in influence if an employee, via a third party, gives or offers someone an unlawful or improper benefit to influence a business relationship.
The ban on corruption applies to both the person giving or offering the unlawful benefit and the person asking for, receiving or accepting it. The prohibition applies in the pri- vate and the public sectors, and both in Norway and abroad.
An unlawful or improper benefit may, for example, consist of cash, objects, discounts, coverage of travel or accommodation expenses, participation in events or services etc.
In principle Beerenberg is liable for corrupt acts commit- ted by the company’s employees. In addition, Beerenberg can be held liable for corrupt acts committed by third parties who have made contracts with Beerenberg, and in other cases where Beerenberg can benefit from corrupt acts committed by third parties. Beerenberg shall there- fore work actively to reduce the risk of corruption in the company’s operations, and will in all contractual relations commit third parties to accede to the same rules and proce- dures that apply to Beerenberg as regards corruption.
Facilitation payments are payments designed to accelerate or secure delivery of services or products to which one may have a lawful claim. This may take the form of payments demanded from the employee to get goods more quickly through customs, to get more quickly through passport control and so forth. Such payments are, as a rule, illegal under Norwegian legislation. Beerenberg does not accept such payments, except in cases where there may be a dan- ger to the employee’s or others’ life or health, or if the em- ployee finds the situation threatening. All such payments shall be reported to Beerenberg’s CFO, with an explanation of why the sum was paid. It shall be posted in Beerenberg’s accounts as “facilitation payment” and the amount shall be refunded to the employee.
Gifts and entertaining
Employees shall not under any circumstances request personal benefits from business connections. Gifts, entertain- ment, events and other benefits shall be carefully assessed in relation to the specific situation and other circumstanc- es. Each employee must assess whether the benefit is such that it will affect own or others’ objectivity, independence or integrity.
Employees may not give or receive gifts, with the exception of small token gifts whose value does not exceed about NOK 200, preferably promotional items. If it is clear that refusal to accept a gift of higher value will be considered impolite, however, the employee may accept the gift, but must report the matter immediately to his/her immediate superior or compliance officer, and the gift must be handed over to him/her.
If the employee is aware that the business connection has a lower value limit than Beerenberg, gifts of a value higher than that which applies in the recipient’s organization should not be exchanged.
Cash is unacceptable irrespective of the amount or circumstances.
Personal discounts may not be received as a result of Beerenberg’s business connections. Exceptions apply for discounts approved by Beerenberg.
If it is clearly business-related, the employee may participate in social gatherings and receive refreshments, provided that the cost is within the range of what is reasonable. In this connection Beerenberg shall itself pay travel, accommodation and other expenses for the employee.
In the same way, employees who act on behalf of Beerenberg, may not offer or pay for hospitality in conflict with the above-mentioned principles.
The employee must exhibit a high degree of caution about offering gifts or entertainment to, or receiving them from, representatives of enterprises with which Beerenberg is in a negotiation and tendering phase, and prior to other important decisions.
The employee must exhibit a high degree of caution about any offers of gifts or entertainment vis-à-vis public servants, and in such cases written approval shall always be obtained in advance from senior management. The employee must display similar caution about accepting gifts or entertainment from public servants.
Expenses in connection with gifts and entertainment shall be treated in accordance with the relevant accounting and tax legislation.
Use of intermediaries
All agreements between Beerenberg and an agent, consult- ant, lobbyist and others acting as an intermediary between Beerenberg and a third party shall be in writing and describe the real relationship between the parties. There must be correspondence between agreed remuneration and the described service that is delivered.
The contract must contain a requirement that the intermediary complies with Beerenberg’s ethical guidelines. The guidelines shall be reviewed with the intermediary before the contract is signed, with a particular focus on the ban on corruption. The contract shall specify that Beerenberg shall have full right of inspection of what the intermediary does on the company’s behalf, including the right to audit the intermediary, and that Beerenberg is entitled to cancel the agreement if corruption is uncovered.
Beerenberg may only make use of lobbyists to influence decisions in the public or private sector if the lobbyist informs the person whom Beerenberg wishes to influence that he or she is representing Beerenberg. The contract with the lobbyist must contain a clause obliging the lobbyist to communicate this information.
Obligatory background check of integrity
Before a contract is made with a new third party, an Integrity Due Diligence check shall always be carried out of that business partner with regard to economic and reputational risk to Beerenberg. A contract shall only be made when the business partner satisfies Beerenberg’s requirements for Integrity Due Diligence.
The Integrity Due Diligence requirement applies in relation to all third parties, including partners, suppliers, consultants, agents etc.
2.4 Correct information, accounts and reporting
All transactions shall be documented and posted in the accounts. Accounting information shall be correct, documented and registered in accordance with the relevant regulations.
Beerenberg shall provide complete, precise and comprehensible information in its financial reports, also in its documentation and communication vis-à-vis public authorities. The employee shall exercise the greatest care in the preparation of this material.
2.5 Political activity
Beerenberg is a politically neutral company. This does not prevent Beerenberg from supporting political views that promote the company’s interests.
The employee may freely participate in political activities as long as this happens without reference to the individual’s relationship with Beerenberg.
3. Personal behaviour
3.1 Equal treatment
Beerenberg shall show respect for all individuals. The company shall recruit on the basis of expertise, irrespective of the employee’s sex, age, handicap, ethnicity, religion and cultural background.
Beerenberg desires an inclusive workplace culture and is working actively to promote a good working environment. All employees shall be guaranteed pay and working conditions that prevent social dumping.
The company does not accept behaviour that colleagues or business associates may perceive as threatening or degrading, including harassment / bullying and discrimination.
The duty of non-disclosure shall ensure that unauthorized persons do not gain access to information that can dam- age Beerenberg’s business activity or reputation. Sensitive information relating to employees, business, commercial, technical, contractual or safety-related matters and other confidential information shall not be disclosed to unauthorized persons. The same applies to information that is protected by law.
The duty of non-disclosure continues to apply after the employment relationship or assignment has been concluded.
3.3 Protection of Beerenberg’s property and resources
Beerenberg’s know-how, production methods and ideas are fundamental to the company’s success. The employee must protect this knowledge and only make use of it in the company’s interests.
The employee must treat and store Beerenberg’s assets in a proper manner and secure them against damage and misuse. Use of Beerenberg’s buildings, equipment, materials, capital and other assets for purposes not directly related to the company’s operations without permission from superior is prohibited.
3.4 Conflicts of interest
The employee must not become involved in relationships that can, or can be perceived as being, in conflict with Beerenberg’s interests.
The employee may not take on assignments for, or have ownership interests in, competing enterprises or with customers or suppliers.
No employees may work with or process cases in which they themselves, their spouses or partners, or other close associates, have direct or indirect financial interests, or cases in which there are other factors that may undermine confidence in the employee’s impartiality or the integrity of the work performed.
The employee may not take on paid directorships, appointments or assignments for companies other than Beerenberg without the approval of Beerenberg.
3.5 Inside information
By inside information is meant precise information that can affect the price of securities and is not publicly available or generally known in the market.
The employee must keep inside information confidential and prevent it from becoming known to unauthorised persons. Employees who possess inside information about Beerenberg or other enterprises may not trade in the relevant securities, neither for their own account nor on behalf of others.
3.6 Purchase of sexual services etc.
Beerenberg is opposed to the purchase of sexual services. Such conduct is a criminal offence and can damage Beerenberg’s reputation. The employee shall refrain from purchasing sexual services when he or she is working for or on assignment for Beerenberg.
This also applies to the employee’s time off during assignments for Beerenberg. In this connection, the employee must also refrain from participating in events that may put Beerenberg or any business associates in an unfortunate light.
3.7 Alcohol and drugs
Beerenberg is an alcohol and drug-free workplace. No one shall consume or be under the influence of alcohol or drugs during work for Beerenberg. The use of drugs or alcohol outside working hours that can affect absence, the performance of work or safety is not permitted. This includes hangovers and smelling of alcohol. The same applies to employees on call.
Limited quantities of alcohol may nevertheless be served and consumed when local customs and special occasions make this appropriate, provided that it does not compromise performance or safety.
Employees on assignment at installations with a general prohibition against alcohol and drugs must comply with the rule throughout their stay.
No employee shall use, or encourage others to use, alcohol or drugs in a manner that may put Beerenberg or any business associates in an unfortunate light.
3.8 Use of the internet and social media
Beerenberg expects the employee to act loyally and be a good ambassador for the company in his/her use of the internet or social media. The employee shall have a conscious attitude to what information is posted on the internet and social media, and whether it can be perceived as being offensive or in conflict with Beerenberg’s interests. In-house information for own employees shall not be posted on the internet. Any internal challenges and matters relating to Beerenberg shall be discussed within the company, not on the internet.
3.9 Contact with the media
To ensure coordinated contact with the media, all enquiries from the media relating to Beerenberg’s activities or employees are coordinated with the communication department. If employees are directly contacted by a journalist, the journalist shall be referred to the head of Beerenberg’s communication department.
4. Dealing with ethical challenges
4.1 Internal whistle-blowing
Employees who discover reprehensible matters are encouraged to blow the whistle on this. By reprehensible matters is meant all criminal offences, violations of acts, internal guidelines or other ethical norms, e.g. bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, alcohol or drug abuse, a bad working environment, matters that pose a hazard to people’s lives and health, hazardous products, embezzle- ment, theft, fraud, corruption, misappropriation of funds etc.
Matters that the employee believes are reprehensible based purely on his/her own moral or political convictions are not normally covered by this provision.
Personnel-related matters shall be broached with the employee’s immediate superior or the HR department.
Reprehensible matters shall as far as possible be reported internally to the immediate superior. If the immediate superior is involved in the basis for the whistle-blowing or the whistle-blowing is not dealt with by the immediate superior, the whistle-blower can contact a superior. The whistle-blower can also contact the employee representa- tive system or the compliance officer, who can pursue the matter on his/her behalf. If it is not expedient to blow the whistle internally up through the line, employees can con- tact the external whistle-blowing desk.
If the whistle is blown in channels other than those mentioned above, the matter must be brought to the correct channel by the employee/manager who receives notice of it. The whistle-blowing desk may be reached via Beerenberg’s Intranet. See Beerenberg’s whistle-blowing procedures for further information and procedure.
Beerenberg shall not undertake any form of negative reactions or sanction against employees who blow the whistle on reprehensible situations in a proper manner. Beerenberg will process all reports in a proper manner.
The ethical guidelines set the framework for what Beerenberg regards as ethical behaviour, but are not ex- haustive. The employee shall always endeavour to exercise sound judgment.
If in doubt as to whether a given activity is legal or ethically acceptable, the employee should consult his or her immediate superior or Beerenberg’s compliance officer.
4.3 Reactions to violations of the ethical guidelines
Violation of the company’s ethical guidelines will not be tolerated. Violation of the guidelines may constitute grounds for internal disciplinary measures, termination or summary dismissal and reporting to public authorities.
4.4 Liability disclaimer
None of the provisions of this document are intended to be construed in such a way as creating any rights enforceable by a third party.
4.5 How to solve ethical dilemmas
Making the correct decision when facing an ethical dilem- ma may be a challenge. Below you will find some questions you should ask yourself before making such a decision.
- Is this legal?
- Is this in accordance with Beerenberg's ethical guidelines, vision and values?
Is this in accordance with Beerenberg’s business strategy and goals?
- Are you comfortable with the situation?
- Does the decision affect Beerenberg’s reputation?