This research aims to determine the extent to which ethics & accountability (E&A) practices exist within Kenya’s largest corporate sector. Based on previous studies undertaken by a group of international researchers in East Africa, this article suggests that there are two distinct but overlapping ethical frameworks that impact corporate responsibility across all stakeholders.
Ethics & Accountability (EA) is an integrated framework which includes principles and rules of conduct governing the conduct of business. These principles can be traced back to legal principles set down in the Codes of Conduct, which include: the requirement for good practice, the obligation to report breaches of these principles and the obligation to undertake remedial action in response to breaches. In addition, there are rules of conduct designed to prevent and mitigate potential conflicts of interest, including the requirement for reporting the nature and consequences of a breach to management and the obligation to disclose material facts surrounding these breaches.
Ethical Leadership (EL) is an ethical approach to leadership which places a focus on achieving goals through the use of sound and reliable advice from experts and competent staff. This approach focuses on providing guidance, providing trust, communicating clearly and providing clear and concise communication to employees about the purpose, process and outcomes of business. Whilst this approach has been seen as a viable option in some contexts, it has not always been considered the preferred approach, with many companies deciding to rely instead on EA principles.
Ethical leadership in Kenya does not provide guidelines that can be easily followed, but rather involves ensuring that leaders understand and reflect the values of their organisations. It also involves ensuring that the values of the organisation can be easily translated into internal policies and procedures. This is accomplished by ensuring that the leadership understands the importance of establishing clear lines of communications between leaders, their staff and key stakeholders.
The Kenya business community recognises the need to enhance ethical practices among its businesses. As a result, a number of Kenya business owners have invested heavily in their ethical performance, by developing ethical training and improving their ethical leadership strategies. There are many national and local business councils and programmes across Kenya, which have been developed to help ensure that ethical standards are implemented throughout the corporate sector and by business owners themselves.
Corporate responsibility requires companies to take the time to understand what it is and how they can improve upon it; however, there are some pitfalls which have been identified by organisations in Kenya who have not done so. This article explores why organisations do not consider ethics & accountability as an important area of their business. and outlines the role that ethical leaders can play in ensuring that ethical behaviour and behaviours are established within the organisation.