Our purpose of bringing possibilities to life shapes what we do every day and the Absa Way Code of Ethics guides how we do it. The Absa Way outlines our values and expected behaviours when engaging with our fellow employees, customers and clients, shareholders, governments, regulators, business partners, suppliers, competitors and the broader community.

We are deeply committed to helping Africa and its people unlock their potential and to playing our part in promoting principled behaviour. Financial service providers, like Absa, safeguard customers’ hopes and enable success; and without their trust, we cannot exist. To maintain the trust of our customers, clients and other stakeholders, we commit to acting with integrity as outlined in The Absa Way.

We continuously improve by challenging ourselves to find better ways to achieve growth and bring possibilities to life. As our internal policies and standards evolve in response to changing legislation and customer requirements, so will The Absa Way. The foundational principles will, however remain; that is to act ethically, fairly and sustainably to ensure long-term value for our stakeholders.

It starts with me:

I commit to abiding by the Absa Way and holding myself accountable against it. Each member of my executive team and each Absa employee commits to the code in their own capacity, as we individually take responsibility for the impact of our actions on the world.

Arrie Rautenbach
Absa Group Chief Executive Officer


The Absa Way of doing business

The Absa Way outlines the purpose and values that govern our way of working across our business globally. It defines the way we think, work and act at Absa to ensure that we help you bring your possibilities to life. It provides guidelines for our working relationships, specifically between employees, customers and clients, governments, regulators, business partners, suppliers, competitors and the broader community.

The Absa Way applies to all Absa employees and employees in subsidiaries in which the Absa Group has a controlling interest. Subsidiaries in which we have a minority interest, and joint ventures in which we participate, are encouraged to adopt an equivalent approach, as are any other entities or individuals contracted by Absa to do work on the Group’s behalf. Any suspected or actual breaches of the policies outlined in this document must be reported.

If the provisions of this document conflict with any local laws in the jurisdictions under which we operate, the provisions of the local legislation will take precedence.


Our purpose, values and behaviours

Our purpose is bringing possibilities to life.

Our values and behaviours

We drive high performance to achieve sustainable results
We are obsessed with the customer
Our people are our strength
We have an African heartbeat

How we behave is instrumental to achieving the highest standards of performance, adding value to our customers and clients, and meeting our regulatory obligations. Over and above the behaviours that bring our values to life, we have a set of behaviours that guide the Absa Way. We expect our employees to:

  • Act ethically and with integrity
  • Act with due skill, care and diligence
  • Be open and cooperative with regulators
  • Treat customers fairly
  • Observe standards of market conduct
  • Respect one another professionally, including our diversity
  • Remember our communities in day-to-day business.

Together, our values and behaviours guide how we engage with all our stakeholders, including our employees, customers, clients, governments and regulators.


Governance and controls: Maintaining high ethical standards

At Absa, we use our skills and resources to deliver high-quality, sustainable results, taking account of the longer term as much as the immediate achievements. We are committed to transparency in our disclosures and reporting.

In managing our business, we appreciate that adhering to high standards of ethical conduct is fundamental to maintaining the trust and confidence of all of Absa’s stakeholders. We will not compromise the controls or compliance requirements that govern our activities. We consistently apply standards across the Group, including risk management, conflicts of interest, competitive practices, bribery and corruption prevention (including gifts and entertainment), anti-money laundering, sanctions and financial crime prevention, fraud prevention, and communication with internal and external stakeholders.

Where we engage with governments and regulators on issues relevant to our business, we are honest and transparent in our communication. We do not fund activities related to political parties or individuals aligned with political parties or interest groups. In managing our relationships with suppliers, we seek mutually beneficial relationships based on merit and work through our supply chain to ensure that related environmental, social and ethical impacts are identified and managed appropriately.

We respect our competitors and acknowledge that free and fair competition is good for business, customers and clients, driving innovation and improvements in service provision.


  • Respect for human rights

    Absa respects and upholds human rights principles, we are committed to operating in accordance with the Group’s statement on human rights to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the associated International Bill of Human Rights, and take account of other internationally accepted human rights standards, including the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Labour Organisation Core Conventions and Treaties and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights [also known as the African Union (AU) Banjul Charter].

    The Group’s commitments to upholding human rights are outlined in the Absa Group Statement on Human Rights

  • Respect for the environment

    As a founding signatory to the Principles for Responsible Banking under the United Nations Environment Programme - Finance Initiative, we are committed to addressing our environmental impacts. We take steps to identify and manage our environmental risks - both direct (such as consumption and disposal of resources within our operations) and indirect (such as those arising through our supply chain or through the provision of financial services to businesses or projects that could have material environmental impacts).

    In fulfilling our environmental responsibilities, we:

    • Comply with all applicable environmental legislation in the countries in which we operate.
    • Adhere to our environmental management standard and operating procedures.
    • Integrate environmental considerations into business decisions.
    • Consider environmental implications in our lending evaluations by applying environmental and social risk criteria embedded in Absa’s internal credit policies and processes.
    • Collaborate with relevant key suppliers to improve the environmental performance of our supply chain.
    • Use sustainable practices in property design and management.
    • Set and regularly review targets for key aspects of our environmental performance.
  • Conflicts of interest

    In line with regulations and ethical responsibility, Absa has policies (including the Conflict of Interest Policy) and controls managing conflicts of interest, and takes appropriate measures to avoid or properly identify and manage potential conflicts. As part of this, we review and understand the different roles associated with introducing and distributing products and services as Absa is required to ensure suitability and appropriateness for the market in order to avoid any conflicts that may harm the customer’s or client’s interests Where we cannot avoid conflicts, we are transparent about their existence and take steps to manage them proactively by, for example, separating particular business functions and decision-making processes and managing confidential information.

  • Gifts and entertainment

    The exchange of gifts and entertainment is a normal part of doing business and can legitimately build goodwill in business relationships. However, inappropriate or excessive gifts and entertainment offered to and received from third parties (including customers, suppliers and public officials) can be used to exert improper influence and amount to or create the impression of bribery.

    We do not offer, accept or solicit gifts or entertainment inappropriately as an incentive or means of influencing actions or opinions. Guidance on what is and is not acceptable is outlined in the Absa Gifts and Entertainment Policy, Standard and relevant business procedures.

  • Competition/Anti-trust law

    Absa is committed to complying with competition/anti-trust laws in all the jurisdictions in which we operate, as set out in our Competition/Anti-trust Policy. Competition laws prohibit anti-competitive behaviour, such as collaborating with competitors which would disadvantage clients and customers.

  • Anti-bribery and anti-corruption

    Absa is committed to conducting our activities free from any form of bribery or corruption. We adopt a zero-tolerance approach to any acts of bribery or corruption perpetrated by Absa employees, suppliers and others with whom we do business or who act on our behalf.

    Anything that has a value could be perceived to be a bribe where the purpose is to improperly obtain, retain business or secure an advantage for the Group. This includes items such as cash payments, excessive gifts and hospitality, charitable donations, sponsorships and preferential treatment in relation to employment or work opportunities. We also take particular care when giving anything of value to public officials (including employees of government or state-owned entities) due to the strict rules and regulations that may apply to their roles and responsibilities.

    Our Anti-bribery and Anti-corruption Policy is designed to provide our position in regards to local and international laws and global best practices.

    Any suspicions of or attempts at bribery or corruption, or suspected or actual breaches of the Absa Anti-bribery and Anti-corruption Policy must be reported. The whistleblowing and contact details sections later in this document explain how to do so.

  • Anti-money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions

    Financial institutions are at the forefront of the fight against criminals who attempt to use our products or systems to launder the proceeds of their crimes, to finance terrorism or to bypass applicable national and international sanction laws, including trade embargoes. We are committed to preventing and disrupting criminal access to financial services markets and our systems, protecting our customers, clients, employees and others with whom we do business and supporting governments, regulators and law enforcement in wider crime prevention.

    The legislative framework, where applicable and based on jurisdiction, imposes personal liability for failing to adhere to the regulatory requirements pertaining to anti-money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions, and criminal liability for facilitating money laundering or terrorist financing and circumventing sanction controls.

  • Fraud

    Fraud is dishonest behaviour with the intent to make a gain or cause a loss to others, through misrepresentation, abusing positions of trust or failing to disclose information. We have zero tolerance for fraud and other dishonest actions perpetrated by employees. As the Group’s defences become more robust, fraudsters are increasingly targeting customers and staff directly.

    Our ability to safeguard our Group and customer assets is only as strong as our efforts as individuals. Employees are required to support the organisation’s efforts to combat fraud by being vigilant, taking proactive steps to report incidents and following processes and procedures that have a number of built-in fraud controls.

  • Whistleblowing

    We take great pride in the Absa brand and strive to act with the highest standards of integrity and honesty in all that we do. We encourage everyone to speak up if you believe something is not right - like misconduct, fraud or illegal activity - or if you feel that our standards are not being met.

    All stakeholders should act in good faith by only reporting information that you reasonably believe to be true. We prohibit malicious and false reporting.

    Concerns raised are taken seriously, treated sensitively and, where appropriate, investigated independently. Where permitted by law, you can raise your concerns with the whistleblowing team anonymously through various channels (see section 6 for more detail).

    No person will be treated less favourably or discriminated or retaliated against because they have raised a concern.


Engaging with our stakeholders

Our stakeholders are important to us. We engage with them openly, ethically and honestly, guided by our values and behaviours, and our Group Media Relations Policy.

The Absa Way Supplier Code of Ethics


  • Customers and clients

    Our culture places customer interests at the heart of our strategy, planning and decision-making. Across Absa, we strive to create and maintain mutually beneficial, long-standing relationships with our customers and clients. We aim to meet their needs and exceed their expectations by understanding products, services, financial advice and support that they need to achieve their goals and providing innovative solutions that enable them to make well-informed choices. We also consider customers’ and clients’ needs over the long term when making decisions.

    Our objective is to offer good value through excellent and consistent service. To achieve this, we are fair, responsible and transparent in our communications on products, services and charges, and in our dealings with customers and clients. We act ethically in everything we do, maintaining the confidentiality of customer and client information and avoiding conflicts of interest.

    Ensuring good financial outcomes for our customers and clients is fundamental to the way Absa conducts business. We consider the impact of our strategy, products and services on customers and clients, including how they are sold and managed, to anticipate adverse effects. We address any customer dissatisfaction timeously and fairly.

  • Regulators

    Absa operates in a highly regulated environment. All relevant laws and regulations must be complied with and all communications with our regulators must be open and transparent. Regulators regularly conduct investigations into the Group’s conduct or practices and we participate openly and constructively in these investigations.

    The Group’s Contact with Regulators Policy establishes the principles governing all significant interactions with Absa’s regulators. It is mandatory for relevant employees to complete the regulatory relations training, which provides an overview of the regulatory environment and the importance of complying with regulations and managing regulatory relations.

  • Governments and political parties

    Absa is a politically neutral organisation and does not engage in party political campaigning or make donations to political parties. Furthermore, we do not fund activities related to political parties or individuals aligned with political parties or interest groups. We do engage with government on issues relevant to our business and industry, and ensure that all communication is honest, comprehensive and accurate.

    We do not pay fees to political speakers, which include former politicians and government officials, elected officials, heads of state, and members of parliament and provincial legislatures.

  • Suppliers

    Absa seeks mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers and third-party service providers based on merit. We work through our supply chain to promote responsible and inclusive procurement practices, applying standards of integrity and good practice in managing related environmental, social and ethical impacts. All actions are guided by our Group Procurement Policy and its supporting standards.

    We comply with all applicable laws and regulatory requirements and require our suppliers do the same. These includes regulations in the various jurisdictions we operate in. We provide competitive bidding opportunities to a diverse base of qualifying suppliers, ensuring fair and equal treatment during selection. We apply due diligence, avoiding conflicts of interest. We also expect suppliers to conduct themselves in a way that avoids conflicts of interest.

    We honour commitments made to suppliers by complying with the terms of third-party contracts.

  • Business continuity and resilience

    At Absa, we ensure continued service to our customers no matter the circumstance. To this end, resilience is defined as the ability to anticipate, avoid, respond to and recover from disruptive events. The Group Resilience and Recovery Policy and procedures provides our position and guidance on effective planning for unforeseen events which should be managed timeously and effectively by a well-established incident and crisis management capability.

    We regularly review our business resilience and continuously build resilience across all parts of our business, including technology, premises, employees, teams and suppliers. All employees participate in regular training to ensure that they understand their roles and responsibilities in relation to resilience to ensure continued service during unforeseen events.


Ensuring a safe and secure working environment

Absa is committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of our employees and contractors, customers, and visitors, in line with our Health and Safety Policy. This includes managing physical security risks and providing safe and inclusive working conditions for employees and other people for whom we are responsible.


  • Physical security

    Ensuring the security of our employees, premises, assets and information enables us to provide our customers with quality products and services. The physical security threats we face are varied and some have no geographic boundaries.

    Absa Group Security constantly monitors the global threat environment, identifies and monitors potential risks, and develops strategies, plans and processes to manage, minimise or prevent risks. Employees are required to understand and comply with security policies and exercise vigilance, reporting any suspicious activities or events.

    By using common sense, being aware of the threats we face, adhering to security policies and embedding robust local procedures and contingency plans, we can collectively reduce the risk and respond in a pragmatic manner, minimising the impact security incidents have on our business as well as our customers.

  • Data privacy

    We respect and protect all the personal information that we hold. We abide by privacy laws and regulations that set out requirements for handling this information, respecting the rights of the people concerned under these laws. We only process relevant personal data for legitimate business reasons and we inform people concerned why we are collecting their personal data and how it will be used. We put appropriate measures in place to safeguard personal data during processing. We will only transfer personal data to another Absa Group Limited legal entity or third party if the requirements of the Data Privacy Statement and/or the relevant local privacy laws are met.

  • Diversity and inclusion

    We treat all employees, customers and other stakeholders with dignity and respect. We deal fairly and ethically with every individual and take action if we observe inappropriate or unacceptable behaviour. Absa will not tolerate any form of discrimination, bullying or harassment in the workplace and will treat transgressions as disciplinary matters.

    All employees must play their part in creating the positive environment that we are all entitled to enjoy, being sensitive to the impact their actions can have on their colleagues, customers and clients and other stakeholders.

    Absa uses fair and objective employment practices to ensure that all employees are recruited, employed and upskilled based on merit, qualifications, skills and competency to do the job, not on personal bias or prejudice. All employees have a fair chance to contribute and achieve their potential.


Contact us

For more information about the Absa Way, please contact the Ethics Office on ethicshelpdesk@absa.africa. To report any ethical breaches, contact the Priority Investigations and Whistleblowing team directly on protected@absa.co.za or via the Tip-offs Anonymous Hotline (protect@tip-offs.com) or website (www.tip-offs.com). Alternatively, you can call the toll-free number 0800 205 055 (South Africa only). Employees in all other countries can request a call back on +27 11 929 3332. Click here for a complete list of tip-off numbers in all countries in which we operate.