Published: June 15, 2021
Published: June 15, 2021

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Etienne and His Team Work to Ensure ’Ethics is Not an Empty Word’

Most of us are happier working at a company that cares. The ethics of a company are formed by its people and values. Etienne Pfohl, our senior manager Ethics & Compliance EMEA, helps us understand how his team is making a difference and how we can ask them for help and guidance at any time.

Gatekeepers of the Ethics and Compliance (E&C) Culture

Etienne explains that his role is about preventing violations of our Code of Ethics before they happen and addressing them when they unfortunately do.

Etienne enjoys being more of a “gatekeeper” as he tries to find balanced recommendations for the business while maintaining a strict interpretation of our policies. He is glad to be flanked in this pursuit by his team, Wim Heylen and Tim Jeurissen.

Tim runs their due diligence programs (export control and anti-corruption), while Wim is their front person for mergers and acquisitions integration.

Our team also relies on a vast network of compliance coordinators, sponsors, champions and investigators. We are grateful to count on them.

Helping Colleagues to Make a Difference

One thing the team feels motivated by is the knowledge that they are making a difference.

It can be through helping one colleague facing inappropriate behavior or through timely detection of a practice that could have led to a significant fine.

Etienne is also inspired by the fact that at PPG, “ethics is not an empty word” and he is impressed by how invested we are when it comes to upholding our standards.

Our colleagues may not always see it because the topics we deal with are usually confidential. But without putting on rose-tinted glasses, one should know that our EMEA leadership is truly engaged and does not hesitate to take the difficult decision, even if it affects business.

Breaking Down the Barriers of Whistleblowing

While violations are scarce, when they do occur, they are seldom invisible, so it is important to report any concerns. One of the tools for colleagues to do this is the Ethics Helpline.

Etienne acknowledges that it can be intimidating to contact E&C but encourages us all to see it as a platform to discuss a concern rather than a “denunciation” box.

He believes that people intuitively know why it is important to report incidents. However, he recognizes there are other barriers, like culture and fear of retaliation, which is something the team is working to change.

In our discipline, if there is one thing the past decade has changed, it’s that blowing the whistle is now seen as a positive act. If you do not report it for yourself, be the brave one who reports it for your colleagues.

Getting In Touch with E&C

Etienne reassures us that it is an easy and safe process to report your concerns, with a very collaborative approach.

If you want to get in touch with the team, visit the PPG Ethics Helpline website, and they will engage with you in a conversation via an anonymous chat.

Most of the time, the guy on the other side of the line is me.

The team will collect as much info as possible about your concern. Etienne explains that it can sometimes be frustrating for the reporter when a concern is not investigated because, for example, there is not sufficient detail or when our personal ethics may not align entirely with business decisions such as restructuring – but the team allocates the right amount of time to each of them to provide a fair and independent opinion on the case’s compliance with regulations and PPG Code of Ethics.

We keep you in the loop with our progress and ensure you are protected.

Bringing a Unique Added Value

Etienne reminds us that behind the exciting examples of investigation, E&C also deals with massive amounts of administrative work.

While our programs may sometimes be perceived as “ticking-the-box” exercises – they are actually essential in order to identify where the risks are and to protect PPG and our colleagues.

Etienne sees great potential for E&C as a discipline, one that is growing in importance when it comes to attracting talent and business partners sensitive to ethical corporate culture.

He believes the team brings its own unique value-add, which hopefully impacts our wellbeing at work, and, therefore, our performance.

Making that happen is what I enjoy most about my work.

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