In order to really understand how a company can operate in an international market you must first obtain a grasp on what kind of company you are dealing with. Sara Lee has more than 154,000 employees in 55 countries and over 150 different products. This has enabled the company to obtain high market shares in a wide variety of products. So how does a company of this size make sure everyone is basing his or her decisions on the corporation's fundamental values? .
These are just the questions that Sara Lee executives and employees debated in the process of creating a program called Global Business Practices. It was introduced in September 1997 to senior management by Steven McMillan, Sara Lee's Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, and seeks to communicate and reinforce the company's basic values. It has since, managed to reach virtually every employee in the company.
Sara Lee now has a global infrastructure of over 100 Business Practices Officers overseeing all of the ethics and compliance programs in each country. They are responsible for making sure every employee receives regular training. In groups led by a company executive, employees learn from actual case studies about questionable behavior and use this program to agree on a proper course of action. The sessions provide a realistic view of how ethics figure in daily work.
Also in place are more than 50 Business Practices Committees that meet regularly to assess their organization's efforts and review and investigate inquiries, complaints and any allegations of wrongdoing. Everyone involved in the business practice efforts are working to reduce risk for the company and to protect the integrity of Sara Lee and all its employees.
Sara Lee was not satisfied with just having everyone in the company follow this program. They have created a section called Supplier Selection Guidelines. These guidelines were established to ensure a uniform and consistent approach with all suppliers (including contractors and joint venture partners).