Corruption is “the greatest enemy of progress in our time”

Corruption is “the greatest enemy of progress in our time” said Sir Eric Pickles, the UK Anti-Corruption Champion during his keynote speech at the OECD Integrity Week in Paris in April.

The focus of the OECD Integrity Week this year was “Global Trade without Corruption” and I was honoured to be invited to be a panellist discussing the new International Standard in bribery risk management – ISO 37001. This particular panel formed part of the European Symposium on Ethics and Governance and was chaired by Roxana Family, the Chair of Law and Business Ethics at the Université de Cergy-Pontoise.

The Integrity Week comprised a full itinerary of panels, workshops, exhibitions and discussions relating to the impact of corruption on global trade and what can be done to drive it down. A series of cross-learning seminars considered, in particular, how collective actions, civil society organisations and academic research can all help in the fight.

I was heartened to hear that Harvard Business School is working on a reliable methodology for valuing non-financial assets, in particular, putting a financial value on organisational culture. Organisational culture is the single most important element of an anti-corruption programme and being able to reliably demonstrate, and put a value to, this quality will make it easier to establish the Business Case for a corporate anti-corruption programme. Currently the Business Case is usually stated as a legal compliance obligation and, therefore, as simply a cost to the business. Once we can consistently articulate and financially demonstrate the value of an ethical organisational culture, an anti-corruption programme will be seen for what it truly is, a driver of corporate value.

During the Integrity Week a series of planning meetings took place in anticipation of the Global Anti-Corruption Summit scheduled to take place in London on 12 May.

Sir Eric highlighted the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to the anti-corruption cause; “The international community has looked the other way for far too long. We need to step up and stop it”.

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