APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working GroupSingapore | 18 October 2021
APEC reinforces the importance of ethical business conduct for small businesses in the health sector by expanding implementation of ethics pacts as New Zealand launches a consensus framework to improve ethical collaboration in its health system.
The “New Zealand Consensus Framework,” signed last week at the 2021 APEC Business Ethics for Small and Medium Enterprises Forum, builds upon nine similar agreements for ethical collaboration that bring together more than 300 health organizations representing thousands of companies, and which affect hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals as well as millions of patients.
Consensus frameworks enable relevant stakeholders, including industries, healthcare professionals, patient groups and governments, to work together by aligning shared principles
In his opening remarks at the forum, the 2021 APEC Chair of Senior Officials, Vangelis Vitalis, highlighted the strong correlation between business ethics and productivity and how ethical businesses across the region can help drive business productivity by 3 to 6 percent per year.
“At a time when we need to get access to vaccines and related medical equipment, this framework allows policymakers, the private sectors and others to work together in finding consensus and supporting the region’s economic recovery,” added Vitalis, who is also the Deputy Secretary of Trade and Economic Affairs of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Representing the private sector, Faye Sumner, former chief executive officer of the Medical Technology Association of New Zealand, said that the framework creates a set of ethical standards to guide collaboration among patient organizations, healthcare professionals and industry players. “No one group can achieve an ethical environment in these sectors alone.”
Research co-funded by APEC and presented at the forum by Ethisphere and Royal Holloway, University of London, found that small businesses in health-related sectors with established ethics and compliance programs had significantly stronger economic performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ethics and compliance programs include employee training, written standard awareness and communication, anti-corruption policy coverage, and risk assessment. The research also found that customers and industry peers are the main driver for small businesses to embrace integrity and adopt business ethics.
“As we continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and facilitate an inclusive recovery, it is crucial for us to provide businesses with a transparent and predictable environment where we can no longer afford to disregard the importance of business ethics,” said Norlela Suhailee, the Chair of APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group.
“This is especially significant for micro, small and medium enterprises. As they are smaller in size and have lesser resources, they are more vulnerable to unethical conduct.”
This year’s activities follow the historic launch of Vision 2025, the initiative’s roadmap endorsed by APEC SME Ministers in 2020, which includes modernizing APEC principles and providing SME capacity building through the APEC Leaders in Ethics and Integrity Program (LEIP) in the biopharmaceutical sector and the Global Distributor’s Compliance Toolkit in for the medical technology sector.
“As we continue to work together to help our societies recover from the pandemic and to be better prepared for the next one, APEC should continue to serve as a driving force to realize consensus frameworks for economies worldwide. It is clear we are only at the start of this movement,” concluded Thomas Cueni, Director General of International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.
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