Responsible business

We are committed to building an ethical business culture, ensuring we conduct our business with honesty and integrity, driving positive change in our supply chain and within our industry.

Jurriaen Sleijster, President & COO

“Compliance with laws, industry codes of conduct and our own strong values and guiding principles form the basis of how we do business and are the foundation upon which we engage with society, clients, partners and suppliers.”

Jurriaen Sleijster,
President & COO

Business ethics 

“As a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, mci group does not tolerate bribery or corruption. We are committed to acting ethically in all aspects of our business, maintaining and improving the highest standards of honesty and integrity. It is part of our core values, and we firmly support international and local efforts to eliminate corruption and financial crime.”

Sebastien Tondeur

Chief Executive Officer

Our business ethics approach is based on the UN Global Compact framework with guidance from Transparency International’s Guide – Business Principles for Countering Bribery. It consists of the following key pillars:

UN Global Compact call to action

In addition to our CEO’s commitment, we signed the UN Global Compact Call to Action and are calling on governments to promote anti-corruption measures and implement policies that will establish sound governance systems. The call to action urges governments to underscore anti-corruption and good governance as fundamental pillars of a sustainable and inclusive global economy.

Compliance with best practices, laws and regulations

Following our business ethics risk assessment, the risk of corruption and bribery across our group was defined as low. Some of our offices are in countries with an increased risk of corruption, especially in projects with governmental organisations, and we will continue to monitor and assess the situation on a need basis.

In 2020, mci group did not receive any fines or sanctions for unethical business practices and/or non-compliance with laws and regulations. No cases of discrimination or human rights violations were reported. mci does not make contributions to political parties or politicians.

Healthcare industry regulations and compliance

In addition to our standard event practices, the projects we organise for our clients in the pharmaceutical and medical device sector are bound by strict codes of conduct in compliance. We adhere to the rules and guidelines laid down by IFPMA, EFPIA and MedTech Europe, and related respective regional and country codes. These rules cover activities such as commercial and medical publications, interactions with healthcare professionals (HCPs) and related hospitality through direct and indirect sponsorship, and give guidance for virtual and hybrid engagements with HCPs. Our healthcare team is responsible for the implementation and the training of processes and procedures to our talents. This team works with our ethics team.

Procedures and policy

Our code of business ethics sets clear ethical expectations for all our talents and agencies.
Based on the UN Global Compact principles, our code expresses values and beliefs for conducting business responsibly and transparently.

The code is supported by additional guidelines on anti-bribery and corruption, hospitality and gifts, facilitation payments or use of third-party advisers.

We strive for associate ventures, affiliate companies and preferred partners to adopt ethical standards that are consistent with our own. For acquisitions, our due-diligence processes also cover ethical risks.

We apply our values to our supply chain through our supplier code of conduct.

Our policies and expectations are shared with all new talents joining the company as part of our onboarding programme. We have a dedicated “ethics” section on our intranet with our policies and guidelines, as well as training presentations on how to deal with ethics-related challenges.

The policies are assessed regularly by the group sustainability team and ethics council with the collaboration of the appropriate shared service teams (finance, procurement, legal, HR). They must be reviewed and signed off by the executive committee.

With the changes in European whistleblowing legislation, we took the opportunity to review our policies. Updated responsible business guidelines covering ethics, whistleblowing and anti-corruption policies will be launched in 2021, with a dedicated training programme for our talents.

Implementing good governance

Our advisory board, executive committee and group management team ensure the tone of good governance at board level, applying the solid principles and values that provide the framework for how we do business (read more).

The Ethics Officer has the responsibility to review and respond to any compliance issues.

 

Escalation and whistleblowing procedures

mci group encourages reporting any suspected unethical, illegal, corrupt, fraudulent, or undesirable conduct involving our business and protects individuals who raise a concern without fear of victimisation or retaliation.

Reports of violations or suspected violations will be kept confidential to the extent possible, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate investigation.

Our employees will not suffer demotion, penalty or other disciplinary action for reporting a concern, even if our company may lose business due to the refusal to do so.

When in doubt about a potentially unethical situation or the best course of action, employees or suppliers can communicate directly with their local management team. If they are not comfortable speaking with the contact person, or not satisfied with the resolution, they can contact our business ethics team at ethics@mci-group.com.

An updated whistleblowing process, aligned with the EU directive, will be available in 2021.

In 2020, we received zero reports from whistleblowers.

Supply chain management and procurement

Managing our supply chain

At a strategic level, the sustainability of our supply chain is managed by our mci global procurement teams and our group sustainability team. Driving our commitment across the supply chain, each agency has a procurement responsibility.

Our supplier code of conduct outlines our minimum expectations in terms of labour practices (such as discrimination, decent work and health and safety), human rights (including child or forced labour), ethical matters (anti-bribery and corruption) as well as environmental commitments. We expect all our partners, suppliers and subcontractors to adhere to and support this code.

All suppliers are required to sign this code and it is an integral part of our vendors agreement.

Scale of supply chain

On average (before the Covid-19 pandemic), we spent €350 million on third party suppliers to manage client operations. This is without considering the indirect spend on behalf of our clients, wherein we were acting as an agent.

Pre-Covid-19, our largest category of procurement was hotels, which accounted for more than half of our total spend. Venues, food, audio-visual, transport, temporary staffing, décor and destination management services make up the rest.

In 2020, with the shift to a more digital experience, our largest spending categories were for audio-visual and production services as well as digital solutions and platforms.

Supplier engagement

With the world waking up to sustainability, suppliers are increasingly committed to environmental and social best practices. In turn, this helps us deliver more sustainable projects.

Of course, we can always do more, and we continuously engage with our suppliers and partners to define how we can accelerate improvements across the value chain, together.

Assessing performance

An initial assessment of our suppliers is done through our internal event audit tool. Further evaluations of supplier compliance against our code of conduct are conducted on a random and specific basis. For most suppliers, our local and group procurement teams are provided with tools to allow them to evaluate performance independently. For high-profile events, our group sustainability team may be involved to assess and audit performance. We have identified supplier assessment as an area where we need to improve and create more rigorous procurement processes.

In 2019, we created a task force consisting of our mci global procurement director, our group internal controller and data protection officer, our group sustainability team and one member of our executive team.

A risk-mapping exercise and interviews with several business heads were conducted. From this process we defined a five-year strategy with the following primary goals:

Sustainability requirements

are fully embedded in all sourcing from the outset – for all medium to large spend category contracts (tracking done through our internal event audit tool)

Contract management

is prioritised based on sustainability risk and opportunity.

Assessment of supplier/partner capabilities and performance

is supported using internally developed digital tools.

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Due-diligence processes, tools and training

to be rolled out in 2021. (The launch was delayed because of the pandemic and the fact that most projects delivered were online. All digital solution providers are required to complete a digital provider assessment form.)

Our performance in 2020

0 reports from whistleblowers
+1,000 talents, clients, suppliers and industry peers trained in sustainability

Outlook

  • We are reviewing our responsible business guidelines and intend to create a new training programme to ensure our teams understand and adhere to our preferred approach.
  • We are committed to ensuring our talents have the confidence to speak up and raise concerns through various channels, without fear of retaliation. We are reviewing our code of business ethics and whistleblowing process and planning various awareness campaigns to make certain this is carried through.
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