Corruption: where there are power and money, there is potential for unfair and unethical abuses and mismanagement.
As it happens, American businesses are where much money and power revolve and it's a grave mistake to think that American businesses are impervious to corruption risks. Violations of anti-corruption laws and policies can (and do) irreversibly bankrupt businesses — financially and reputation-wise, as it is only a matter of time before they are caught.
Read on to see what corruption risks exist in the American workplace — and what anti-corruption initiatives you can create for curbing corruption at your own company.
Get An Instant Free Course Preview
Try our best-in-class, interactive, and engaging courses for free!
Broadly speaking, corruption can be described as a wrongful design to cause or acquire some financial gain or unfair advantage. Many forms of corruption are considered a crime in the US, such as making "gifts" to influence a public official. Both the person bribing — and the person being bribed — can be arrested and charged with such an offense.
Corruption permeates more than just politics. Government spending mismanagement, favor trading, and other corrupt practices can invade government processes vulnerable to exploitation (e.g. public procurement — the process whereby government authorities commission and purchase work, goods, or services from businesses in the private sector).
In the business world, corruption most typically manifests itself in the form of internal bribery, nepotism, financial fraud, and embezzlement, as well as all sorts of petty- and grand-level attempts at influencing government officials and lawmakers in one's favor.
The same offenses appear in the public sector, only there, the misappropriated money often comes for public funds — and it is the public integrity, public trust, and public economic growth that are directly undermined by such unethical practices.
On the international level, there are formal coalitions and global associations that serve as watchdogs and enforcers of anti-corruption measures. For example, Transparency International is a German anti-corruption association founded by former employees of the World Bank that fights for budgetary transparency in various countries around the world. On the "home front", there is a recent mass-scale initiative launched by the current US administration intended to identify and recover stolen assets from US banks connected to foreign government corruption.
What You Can Do To Stop And Prevent Corruption In Your Company
Some private sector industries are more vulnerable to corruption risks than others. For example, construction, transportation, extraction (mining, oil, and gas) industries, and financial institutions are extra susceptible to bribery and other corrupt practices.
Furthermore, doing business in foreign countries increases the risk of corruption for an American enterprise.
How the company is run also influences the odds of corruption becoming a problem: companies that deliberately combat corruption are much less likely to succumb to it than those who don't take this threat seriously.
Consider the following important elements/good practices to include in your corporate anti-corruption efforts.
Conduct An Honest And Objective Assessment Of Corruption Risks At Your Company
In effectively fighting corruption in the business setting, one must have a realistic understanding of the risks involved. For this reason, an objective risk assessment must be conducted, so that the subsequent anti-corruption policy can be drafted with each company's specific vulnerabilities/weaknesses in mind.
Develop An Anti-Corruption Policy For Your Company
Upon conducting an honest corruption risk assessment, the top-level member of the company can nominate a person/group in charge of drafting a comprehensive anti-bribery and anti-corruption company policy (or the Chief Compliance Officer can do it, if one exists). A help of a legal professional is in order for the larger corporate structures.
Don't forget to specify somewhere in your anti-corruption policy that the zero-tolerance approach to corruption extends to everyone: regular employees, managers and top executives, third-party entities, and other partners/associates in foreign countries.
Provide Worthy Anti-Corruption Training
In tandem with the above-mentioned anti-bribery/anti-corruption company policy, there needs to be employee training on the same topics — to lock in the knowledge and the behavior.
Education is key to preventing corruption in the workplace. Training the staff (from top to bottom) to understand their responsibilities to the law, the company, and each other — as well as to grasp the consequences of violating these laws and policies — will put everyone "on the same page" of zero-tolerance toward corruption at the company.
Enforce The Anti-Corruption Policies From The Top
The kind of major corruption that brings down enterprises typically does not happen at the bottom of the workplace hierarchy. On the contrary, it's usually the supervisors and the executives that succumb to the worst of it: so they should receive the most training as well as the most scrutiny.
Shared responsibility and accountability — from all tiers of the workforce — for fighting corruption in their midst is detrimental to winning over the employees' trust and loyalty.
Support And Strengthen The Company Culture
Employees will neither prevent nor report corruption if they are not provided with a safe workplace environment that allows them to practice ethical behavior. Invest in your employees' sense of feeling good at work. Employees who feel seen and heard are less likely to turn to corruption.
Promote Transparency And Fairness With A Whistleblower Policy
The above-mentioned healthy work environment is further facilitated by encouraging employees to feel safe to report corruption and bribery when they come across it. If your company's anti-corruption policy includes official whistleblower procedures for employees to follow, they are more likely to speak up/file reports without the fear of retaliation.
Vigilantly Monitor The Company's Financial Transactions
It is imperative for any business to keep very tight books — monitoring all transactions and providing clear "dos and don't" of how company spending is to be conducted, justified, reimbursed, logged, etc. There should be no "cracks" in the ledger allowing for illicit flows of money; no incomplete/inaccurate information on expense reports should be tolerated.
Corruption Has No Place In Today's Business
Without education and regulation, corruption subverts civil society and its institutions by allowing unfairness and disloyalty to become the norm in how we treat each other and conduct business.
To stop corruption from becoming a problem in the future, businesses must proactively fight corruption in the present! It is truly in everyone's best interest to prevent corruption from happening in the first place, as dealing with its "fallout" is a notably disruptive, costly, and overall regrettable affair for the business owner.
Prevent Corruption At Your Business With EasyLlama's Training!
EasyLlama's anti-bribery & anti-corruption e-training will educate your employees and supervisors on the definitions and the laws surrounding corrupt practices at the workplace. Its simple-to-use and easy-to-digest information modules will prepare them how to:
- smartly navigate tough situations
- recognize the "red flags" and corrupt individuals in their midst
- make correct judgement calls
- properly report unethical dealings
- resist corruption themselves when it materializes as a seductive "opportunity" at work
You love the company you've built/run -- and you can't afford to see it brought down by the dark side of human nature. By providing your workforce with EasyLlama's excellent anti-bribery & anti-corruption training (as well as having proper anti-corruption policies in place to guide and discipline employees), you are making tremendous strides in discouraging corruption from sabotaging your business!
Written by: Maria Malyk