I’m writing this blog post from Putrajaya, Malaysia, host to Transparency International’s 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference. The SCCE is exhibiting here, and we’ve been proud to work with TI in its efforts to engage with the private sector.
When we think about TI’s work, their Corruption Perceptions Index immediately leaps to mind. It’s an essential resource for assessing corruption risk.
Given TI’s place in the compliance profession’s work you would expect business people to be present in droves. They are not.
We private sector types are in short supply at this conference. That’s because most of the emphasis is on working with governments to effect change and stem corruption, to hold corrupt officials accountable, to change laws and to ensure that they are enforced. That’s generally beyond the scope of compliance programs.
[bctt tweet=”For all the debate about which is more important it is too often forgotten that being compliant is often very much about being ethical ” via=”no”]
The sessions are filled with utterly appalling tales of the price of corruption. People dying because they can’t afford to pay off a doctor, children unable to go to school because their parents can’t afford to bribe the teacher, and vast forests laid waste because someone paid off a government official.
Listening to the stories, hearing the challenges, and discovering the solutions is an often painful experience.
It is also a good reminder that for all the debate about which is more important, compliance or ethics, it is too often forgotten that being compliant is often very much about being ethical.
Every time a compliance program stops a bribe from being paid, we’re not just ensuring a company acts in compliance with the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act, or the Brazilian Clean Companies Act. We’re ensuring a company acts ethically. We are keeping natural resources from being exploited improperly and public service from being perverted in private aggrandisement. We’re taking the wind out of the sails of those who have turned their official position into a license to steal. And we’re supporting the effort to end corruption both large and small.
We are also demonstrating that the debate of ethics vs. compliance is very much an unnecessary one. There is no need to choose one or the other. Being compliant can very much mean being ethical, and it is where the principles of ethics get put into practice.
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