Compliance

Corporate governance

Good corporate governance is an essential prerequisite of our business success. Our corporate governance is based on the German Corporate Governance Code promulgated by the Government Commission. We comply to a great extent with the requirements of the Code and explain any deviations from the Code in our Annual Report.

Corporate governance also means ensuring compliance with laws, regulations and voluntary commitments. The core guidelines governing the way we do business are set out in our Code of Ethics. This describes the principles we expect all Linde employees to adopt when dealing with business partners, officials, colleagues and society. Issues covered in the Code of Ethics include not only corruption, antitrust law and the protection of company secrets, but also human rights, safety standards, labour standards and social standards. Our global compliance organisation helps us fulfil our commitments in our day-to-day business.

Moreover, we are a signatory to the United Nations Call to Action: Anti-Corruption and the Global Development Agenda. This means that we have joined other companies in demonstrating a commitment to the ongoing development of efficient anti-corruption measures.

Compliance organisation

Our compliance organisation is led by the Chief Compliance Officer. The implementation of compliance is supported by compliance officers in the regions, divisions and business areas. Their tasks include advising employees, providing training and handling compliance cases. The Executive Board and the Audit Committee of the Supervisory Board are given regular updates about the activities of the compliance organisation and about progress achieved.

Prevent

  • Global Code of Ethics
  • Compliance policies
  • Guidance from international standards
  • E-learning
  • Face-to-face training
  • Advice by Compliance Officers

Detect

Respond

  • Follow up on reports of misconduct
  • Monitoring of actions taken
    (consequence management)
  • Cooperation with authorities

Prevention is key

Our objective is to prevent compliance violations. In our global compliance programme, we therefore rely especially on providing information, training and personal advice.

We use various communication channels to keep our employees up to date. Our Intranet is our basic form of communication. Here, our employees worldwide are able to access information about compliance and compliance guidelines in up to 29 languages. We also involve the Executive Board in our communication measures relating to compliance.

We offer training on compliance to our employees. Some of this training, such as that relating to guidelines dealing with gifts, hospitality and invitations to events, is targeted at selected employees in relevant areas of the Group.

During the reporting year, we completed the introduction of a new e-learning programme in twelve languages launched in 2015. By the end of 2016, more than 35,000 employees had successfully participated in this programme. Other training courses are addressed to all our employees, including training on the contents of our Code of Ethics. New Linde employees get to know our compliance guidelines during their induction. In 2016, a new compliance e-learning programme in nine languages was introduced for new employees. More than 3,000 sessions of this programme have been successfully completed until the end of the reporting year. Regular refresher courses complement our programme. Our range of training opportunities includes classroom-based training and e-learning courses. More than 22,000 members of staff across the globe were provided with classroom-based training between 2009 and 2016. Of these, over 3,000 received training in 2016. Between 2009 and 2016, employees completed around 160,000 e-learning training sessions. Just under 44,000 of these sessions were completed in 2016.

We operate compliance hotlines where our compliance officers provide support to all our employees, regardless of their role or seniority. In 2016, our compliance officers received more than 7,700 requests for legal advice. Most of the queries related to the prevention of corruption (23 percent) and to antitrust law (25 percent). We also received queries about export control (28 percent) and data protection (15 percent).

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Compliance1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

1

In line with the information in the Financial Report 2016, the figures provided for the years 2015 and 2016 exclude the business of the logistics service provider Gist, as it has been reported as a discontinued operation.

Contacts Integrity Line

 

 

348

 

300

 

734

 

393

Investigations as a result of reports to the Integrity Line

 

 

106

 

140

 

127

 

88

of which referring to personnel topics

%

 

30.1

 

25.7

 

26.8

 

36.4

of which referring to potential offences against property

%

 

30.7

 

26.4

 

32.3

 

33.0

of which referring to potential discrimination

%

 

1.3

 

2.8

 

1.6

 

2.3

of which referring to potential conflicts of interest

%

 

15.0

 

13.6

 

9.4

 

12.5

Dealing with misconduct

As part of our global compliance programme, we have processes in place to identify and deal swiftly with any misconduct. We actively encourage our employees to ask for advice early if they have any concerns and to report any violations of our Code of Ethics, other Group guidelines or legal requirements. Staff members can approach their direct line manager or department head, or they can contact a representative from Human Resources, Compliance, Legal Services or Internal Audit. In addition, an important part of our compliance programme is our global reporting system, the Linde Integrity Line. This enables employees and external stakeholders such as customers and suppliers to report suspected violations, anonymously if they so wish. We ensure that each case is examined and generates a response. Our Integrity Line guideline sets out the entire process and ensures that reports remain confidential and that data is protected.

In 2016, the Integrity Line was contacted 348 times in total (2015: 300). There were 106 cases (2015: 140 cases) involving suspected misconduct. Most of these related to personnel issues (2016: 30 percent; 2015: 26 percent) or to offences against property (2016: 31 percent; 2015: 26 percent). We also investigated conflicts of interest (2016: 15 percent; 2015: 14 percent) and discrimination (2016: 1 percent; 2015: 3 percent). The investigations of these cases were conducted principally by Internal Audit as well as by Legal & Compliance and the department for Health, Safety & Environment.

Linde employees who violate laws or regulations or fail to comply with the Group’s voluntary commitments must be prepared to face sanctions. All the cases which have been reported via the Integrity Line and prove to be justified once they have been investigated entail consequences. In 2016, these consequences included training, warnings and dismissals. We apply the knowledge we gain from dealing with these cases to make further improvements to our compliance programme.