North East businesses told to use ethics to get ahead

Event run by North East Institute of Business Ethics to say that ethical approach can give firms a competitive advantage

Chris Dancer, chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (North East)
Chris Dancer, chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (North East)

Adopting a more ethical approach could give firms in the North East a competitive advantage, an event due to be held this month will say.

The North East Institute of Business Ethics (NIBE) and Newcastle University Business School have joined forces with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to host a forum on business ethics which will say that better practice is good for the bottom line.

Peter Bolton King, RICS global property standards director, has been confirmed as the key speaker at the Ethical Business Practice event, taking place on April 30 from 4pm at business school.

The announcement comes as The Journal’s Pay Fair campaign enters its sixth month and follows the release of a survey from the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association (North East) suggesting that several big contractors are among those still lagging in payments for work done on their behalf.

Mr King, who is chair of trustees for the International Ethics Standards Coalition, said: “Unfortunately, firms sometimes do not take the time they need to fully understand the importance of acting ethically in business and the impact of not doing so.

“For example, the simple act of paying a supplier or client on time will strengthen trust between both parties, accelerate business activity in the region and avoids getting in to any kind of pay dispute.”

Set up last May, NIBE aims to place ethical behaviour at the heart of the North East’s business community.

Through the Pay Fair campaign, The Journal is encouraging North East companies to sign its Business Ethics Pledge at http://www.nibe.org.uk/ .

Caroline Theobald, who co-founded NIBE with city centre chaplain Reverend Glyn Evans said: “We’re delighted that Peter Bolton King will be joining us and leading the discussion at our joint event, setting standards for local and global business practice.

“I’m sure he will inspire many local businesses to improve their ethical decision making and encourage them to sign our pledge to show their commitment to ethical business practices in the North East.”

Meanwhile, a survey among 75 CECA (North East) member firms has shown that, while 67% are being paid promptly and fully by private sector clients, 33% still suffer shortfalls without a withholding notice.

Chris Dancer, chairman of the organisation, said: “Assuming that payment between 0 and 45 days is currently acceptable, our statistics show local authorities and government bodies are paying 88% of their main contractors on time, and there are no real issues here.

“But our most notable finding is that, among private sector clients, 76% of members are finding the settlement times by several tier 1 main contractors to be ‘unsatisfactory’, against only 12% finding the situation is improving. And when these main contractors do pay, 88% of recipients have been getting shortfall interim payments - 63% being over 30 days late.”

Three names in particular cropped up regularly in the list of lead contractors known to be late payers. CECA (NE) says it has held a positive meeting with one and is due to meet the other two shortly.

It also hopes to organise a meeting between Tier 1 contractors and firms in their supply chains so larger companies can discuss their visions, values and supply chain policies, give updates on financial performance and discuss the payments issue further.

“That way, Tier 1 contractors could give information which may have been previously unknown to us,” Mr Dancer said. “Supply chain delegates might then also gain assurances about future payments.”

For further details or to reserve a place at the free ethics forum, visit www.rics.org/events

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