As a business owner there’s no shortage of plates that you need to keep spinning. As you’re pulled from pillar to post dealing with everything from business development pitches to meeting with new suppliers or vetting distributors, one of those plates named “internal corporate governance” might just start to wobble.
A recent example of this caught our eye: Braids Logistics, a Glasgow‐based firm, agreed to pay £2.2m after uncovering illegal bribery operations in its own organisation. Whether or not the fine is excessive (after all, the company did uncover and voluntarily report the breach) it serves as a timely reminder that every single business requires appropriate anti‐bribery procedures to be put in place so as to avoid situations like this from arising.
Unfair and Damaging
Bribery has far-reaching consequences, and the risks far outweigh the benefits. Not only do companies who play by the rules miss out on potential opportunities, but the government and wider society is undermined by this underhanded means of winning business. Free and fair competition will find itself increasingly damaged with every bribe offered and accepted.
For the sake of maintaining a principled and ethical business ecosystem, procedures must be put in place to ensure bribery does not occur at any level, and these procedures should start at the very top.
As with any other aspect of your corporate culture, this approach to preventing bribery should be shaped by the people leading the organisation. You should make it clear from the outset that offering (and accepting) bribes is wholly unacceptable and damaging to your business’s reputation.
Where to Start?
Begin with a formal statement as part of a company handbook or made available on an intranet. The statement should include a reaffirmation of approaching business is a fair, honest, and open manner, with zero tolerance towards bribery.
You should also ensure the consequences for being found in breach of this policy are clear to all employees and management, while underlining the benefits to the business for adopting such an approach (this of course includes increased customer and partner confidence, and a strong business reputation).
Your employees and management should also be made aware of procedures for the confidential reporting of bribery, and informed of the departments or key individuals who will be responsible for overseeing and implementing your organisation’s anti‐bribery procedures.
No matter the size of your company or the market in which you operate, it’s important that you carry out a periodic risk assessment to better understand the potential exposure to bribery. Beyond this, effective due diligence and communication will lead to an increased awareness of situations where bribery may occur.
A Legal Obligation
The Bribery Act 2010 was brought into force on the 1st of July 2011, making it an offence to offer or receive bribes, to bribe foreign public officials, and to prevent a bribe being paid on your organisation’s behalf.
As a business leader you not only have a moral obligation to ensure bribery does not occur, but also a legal obligation. Failure to comply with the Bribery Act procedures can lead to a fine and imprisonment.
ad+ can assist you with establishing effective anti‐bribery procedures for your organisation.
Please get in touch if you require any additional information or if you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss your organisation’s situation.