How corporate gift-giving can be ethical

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Beyond office parties and vacation days, the holiday season can have considerable impact on corporate life. Since the topics of presents and hospitality raise several ethical issues, ethics and compliance specialists might dread this time of year. If you insist that people cannot take or give gifts or hospitality, you might feel like the office Grinch.

There is no denying that business relationships and practise are facilitated by the offering and accepting of gifts and hospitality. Building a relationship with a supplier over a meal out might be beneficial; a customer may think of you when they need a quote if they have a pen with your company’s name on it.

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What should be expectation?

It might be challenging to determine what qualifies as a “lavish” gift or act of hospitality. Senior staff members could be required to attend or fund events where hospitality is extended as part of their duties, for instance. What seems little to a senior boss may be of much more value to a younger employee. It can occasionally be challenging to estimate the exact worth of a gift or gesture of hospitality. 

Choose the individual:

Giving presents or showing hospitality to certain people, including governmental officials, is frequently seen as a facilitation payment and raises red flags. Public officials, however, are defined differently in different countries. It can be challenging to distinguish between a state-owned enterprise employee and a government official who also works for the state-owned enterprise in many nations.

Many businesses have a strict policy against accepting or providing gifts and other forms of hospitality. Employees may wind up in embarrassing situations and have to publicly deny the gift or hospitality, which isn’t always the most practical course of action.

This is especially true for staff members of multinational corporations operating in nations where giving gifts is a significant cultural custom and helps foster business partnerships. Some businesses have decided against enacting a global blanket ban and instead have established locally defined ceilings on the amount of gifts and hospitality that may be provided or accepted.

The value cap on gifts and hospitality may be lowered for public officials, and employees may need management clearance for all gifts and hospitality, regardless of value. 

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Definite policy:

Employees require instructions on the company’s gift-giving and hospitality policies. This involves noting it in a corporate gifts and hospitality register and obtaining approval from their line manager or a more senior individual. It may occasionally be necessary to contribute expensive presents to a cause or to the business. Then, towards the end of the year, high-value gifts can be auctioned off to raise money for charities, for instance.

Usually, a company’s code of ethics or gift and hospitality policy provides guidance. This will define gift-giving and hospitality as well as the company’s position on them, as well as set forth best practises for staff. In order to promote high standards of honesty and integrity in decision-making and behaviour, a gift and hospitality policy needs to be consistent with all other elements of an organization’s ethics programme.


Thus, it is unnecessary to be a Grinch. Inform staff members on your gift-giving and hospitality policies, urge them to think ethically before offering or accepting gifts, and provide extra assistance to individuals who work in cultures with diverse gift-giving customs.