As corporate activity expands globally, improprieties occur with some frequency, due not just to deliberate dishonest and criminal acts but also to a lack of awareness and understanding. Employees doing business in countries and regions where legal systems are incompletely realized must perennially exercise a high degree of awareness of norms.
We at Panasonic have set down a clear set of rules for compliance with the law and corporate ethics. We strive to achieve thorough adherence to these rules, with the aim of promoting fair operating practices in all countries and regions of the world, and to realize a sustainable society. This is the "Panasonic Code of Conduct," which incorporates the requirements of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and other norms.
In our observance of our own Code of Conduct, we have a global network of legal departments, directors, and executive officers in charge of ensuring adherence to the Code of Conduct, as well as managers in charge of export control and other persons responsible for supervising various other functions in our Companies, business divisions, and regional headquarters outside Japan.
Each year, we designate September to be "Compliance Awareness Month," marked by efforts to strengthen our awareness of the need to observe ethical and legal requirements. We conduct a "Compliance Awareness Survey" to check the degree of compliance awareness dissemination among our employees around the world. Once each year, we check the status of observance and practice of the "Panasonic Code of Conduct" in our business locations around the world and undergo an Internal Control Audit conducted by an auditing firm.
In addition, to prevent improprieties and achieve quick resolutions, we have established hotlines for whistleblowers in our domestic and foreign business locations, and for our business partners.
In addition to initiatives aimed at correcting the issues that we have discovered through such efforts at the business division level, we also bring those issues together centrally and comprehensively at our Head Office and reflect them in groupwide policies with consideration to societal conditions and the like, and repeat this process in the pursuit of continuous improvement. We are currently promoting activities under the themes of "preventing cartels" and "preventing bribery of government officials."
Also, Panasonic has been a member of the Business Ethics Research Center (BERC) since BERC was founded in 1997. Together with BERC and other member companies, we have engaged in research, practice, education, and promotional activities for management ethics through panels, study groups, information-exchange activities, and so on.