Ethics is the foundation of, and reason for, corporate governance. The ethics of corporate governance requires that the Board ensures that the organisation is run ethically. The Board ensures that GEPF does business ethically rather than merely being satisfied with legal or regulatory compliance. The Board therefore ensures all deliberations, decisions and actions of Board members, as well as executive management, are based on the principles set out in its Code of Ethics. The current Code of Ethics prescribes the following ethical principles:
- Responsibility: Trustees are responsible for the Fund’s assets and actions and must be willing to take corrective actions to keep the Fund on a strategic path that is ethical and sustainable.
- Accountability: Trustees are collectively and individually accountable and should be able to justify their decisions and actions to members, beneficiaries and other stakeholders of the Fund. Trustees may be liable for any breach of governance that results in any loss to the Fund and to its members, pensioners and beneficiaries.
- Fairness: Trustees should give fair consideration to the legitimate interests and expectations of all stakeholders of the Fund. In striving towards fairness, trustees should identify the Fund’s ethics risks through engagement with internal and external stakeholders, as stakeholders are able to identify the Fund’s risks and opportunities, and whether, in the stakeholder’s opinion, it is ethical or unethical.
- Transparency: Trustees should disclose information in a manner that enables stakeholders to make an informed analysis of the Fund’s performance and sustainability. Trustees should communicate any aspects of the Fund, including the performance of the Fund’s investments, that are relevant to the Fund’s members, and that would help establish the credibility and trustworthiness of the administration, the Fund and the delivery of its benefits.
- Conscience: Trustees should act with intellectual honesty, integrity, competence, diligence and respect, and show independence of mind in the best interest of the Fund and all its stakeholders. Trustees should place the interest of the Fund above their own personal interests and personal gain.
- Inclusivity of stakeholders: Trustees should include stakeholders, as it is essential for sustainability. The legitimate interests and expectations of stakeholders must be taken into account in decision-making and strategy.
- Competence: Trustees should have the relevant knowledge, competencies and skills required to effectively govern the Fund. They should maintain the relevant capacity to diligently and thoroughly conduct their duties and responsibilities to the Fund. The results of the annual appraisal assessment should be used to identify lack of skills or competency and ensure that trustees receive rigorous and robust training to effectively carry out their duties and responsibilities.
- Commitment: Trustees should diligently perform their duties and devote sufficient time to Fund affairs. Fund performance and compliance requires unwavering dedication and appropriate effort.
- Courage: Trustees should have the courage to take risks associated with directing and controlling a successful, sustainable enterprise, as well as the courage to act with integrity in all Board decisions and activities.