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Our compliance corner

The fight against corruption

Maintaining a culture of integrity requires the continuing commitment of everyone at Nokia:  from our leaders, who must lead by example and demonstrate deep engagement in driving compliance, to our employees, who must know and understand the rules and raise their hand when they have concerns.  Likewise, Nokia’s Ethics & Compliance team (E&C) constantly seeks to improve our already robust compliance program and find new and effective ways to lessen risk.  Our Ombuds team helps drive our open reporting culture, our Investigations team responds promptly to reports of potential issues, and our Anti-Corruption Center of Excellence reviews hundreds of transactions, third parties, and requests to give or receive gifts, travel and entertainment, to name just some of the work happening every day.

train station

Recently, in an effort to further mitigate the risk associated with engaging third parties, E&C began to proactively engage with our third parties to ensure they share our commitment to integrity and have their own robust compliance programs.  This engagement is strengthened further by Nokia’s Third-Party Code of Conduct, which was launched in 2018, and Nokia’s decision to become a signatory to the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) and commit to an active role in the global fight against corruption. 

In the current enforcement environment, the work of Ethics and Compliance is more important than ever. Indeed, the number of anti-corruption and anti-corruption-related enforcement actions continue to climb globally. Recently, we’ve seen the largest-ever settlement in a case brought under US anti-corruption law, as well as fines meted out for a potpourri of wrongdoing, including improper payments to government officials in order to obtain permits and the use of agents to funnel bribes. In sum, anti-corruption prosecution continues at a vigorous pace, and it shows no signs of slowing.

What can we take away from the many cases we have seen of late? While obvious, it bears repeating that the consequences of corruption are profound. Beyond massive fines, disruptive investigations, and loss of business, careers are destroyed, individuals go to jail, companies may never recover their former reputations, and investors and consumers may be harmed.

Nokia is committed to the hard work necessary to maintain a best-in-class ethics and compliance program because having a reputation for integrity has become a true commercial differentiator. We are proud of our deeply embedded culture of integrity, where our leaders and employees care about ethics, want to “win” with integrity, and embrace the “Speak Up” culture. At Nokia, we make it a priority to maintain our values – even in a competitive and difficult market. Put simply, staying out of trouble takes work, and that work is never done as we strive continuously to improve our ethics and compliance program.

The trust equation

We have all seen first-hand the erosion of trust in institutions that have long served as cornerstones of free and open societies – the media, corporations, and freely-elected governments to name a few. From “fake news” to Brexit to yellow vest protests, it can feel as if the fabric that binds us together is stretched to the breaking point. Pessimism abounds. But the latest results from an annual survey on trust1 reveal something surprising: trust has become “localized,” with the majority of respondents now naming “my employer” as their most trusted institution or relationship, far outpacing NGOs, business and media. But it can’t be one way; employees expect something in return. In exchange for their trust, employees expect their companies to act as agents of change, working to improve the lives of employees and for the overall betterment of society. The payoff for employers who can meet these expectations is significant: employers who have earned the trust of their employees reap the benefits of a workforce that is engaged, loyal, and committed.

people

As one noted management consultant has observed,

“The secret to getting people engaged isn’t about showing them why it’s good for them. It’s the exact opposite. It’s about providing people with a purpose that’s bigger than they are.”2

We understand the importance of trust, engagement, and a greater purpose. As a trusted employer, we know our success is based not only on providing cutting edge technology but equally on a dedicated, happy, productive workforce that trusts the company to do the right thing for them, for the business, and for the communities in which we work. As employees we appreciate an inclusive, stable work environment where our leadership is committed to not only driving growth in an ethical way but also providing employees with fair pay and benefits, multi-dimensional growth opportunities, and the opportunity to make a difference. Our customers, suppliers, shareholders, and partners likewise want to work and invest with us because of our commitment to these ideals.

In the Legal & Compliance organization, the trust equation is central to what we do. We support our business partners in complex commercial negotiations, dispute resolution, protection of our intellectual property and much more. And as guardians of Nokia’s hard-earned and longstanding reputation as a company that leads with integrity and serves as a model of corporate ethics, we strive to raise the bar on transparency and compliance everywhere we do business. We work diligently to ensure that the actions and behaviors of our partners, affiliates, suppliers and others with whom we do business follow the same principles and values we expect of our employees. 

We also work hard to improve our communities and the lives of others. Nokia has been recognized for its commitment to pro bono work, ranging from improving the delivery of health care services in rural Africa, to education in remote parts of India, to groundbreaking work supporting employment opportunities for asylum-seekers across southeast Asia.

We don’t shy away from doing business in tough places where transparency is lacking and the rule of law is weak. After all, the need for advanced communication technologies is at least as great in such places as in more developed nations. Instead, recognizing the vital nature of our products and services, we go in with clear eyes, recognizing the challenges and partnering with our business leaders to craft effective and creative solutions to address these risks, never compromising on our values and our commitment to integrity. This is how our Legal & Compliance team furthers the trust equation: by partnering to achieve business objectives, enabling the provision of communications and technology solutions to millions, setting an example for ethical business practices globally, and never straying from our values and our unyielding commitment to integrity.

12019 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual survey carried out by Edelman, a global communications firm.

2Lisa Earle McLeod, author of Leading with Noble Purpose (2016) and other leading works. 

A solid foundation of integrity

The evolution of compliance in our company reflects our journey from humble beginnings as a paper and rubber maker to a global leader in communications infrastructure and technology. While integrity has long been a core value, our compliance program has had to adapt as the company has entered new industries and markets.

Compliance in our company remains agile against the backdrop of an ever-shifting risk landscape, as issues such as privacy, information security and trade compliance take on ever-greater importance. If the only constant in today’s world is change, then adaptability and flexibility must be the watchwords of an effective compliance program.

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Our compliance program has two aims: enabling business, while also protecting the company. Rather than ignoring the tension between these aims, recognizing it and balancing the competing aims is central to our role. We strike the balance by understanding our business colleagues’ goals and the strategies they use to deliver them and by working closely with them to assess, analyze, and mitigate compliance risks they may encounter along the way.

Our reputation for integrity is we believe well deserved, and as a team we feel a strong responsibility to preserve and enhance it. We were therefore especially proud to have been named by Ethisphere as one of 2021’s World’s Most Ethical Companies, recognizing us as a global leader in corporate ethics – the fourth consecutive year that we have been honored and the fifth time overall.

Though our compliance program has several key elements, including effective and engaging compliance training and communications, robust audits and risk assessment processes, and more, it ultimately comes to this: compliance is a shared responsibility at Nokia. It starts with every employee. They are expected to know and understand the rules, to ask questions when they are uncertain, and to speak up whenever they see something that doesn’t seem right.

Our leaders at every level – managers, supervisors, and executives – own compliance, meaning they, rather than lawyers or compliance officers, are responsible for making and being accountable for decisions. We expect them to set the tone and to lead by example. Supporting the entire company are compliance experts, responsible for educating employees and leaders to enable sound and responsible decision-making and for escalating matters, if needed, to ensure that decisions are always consistent with the company’s commitment to integrity.

It is this vision of compliance as a shared responsibility that serves as our foundation for compliance. As a company we are recognized for offering world-class products and services and cutting-edge technology. As we build on our long tradition of integrity, we strive every day to ensure that excellence and innovation also define compliance in the company.