I haven’t been a very prolific contributor to this blog over the past few weeks, which was at least partly due to the fact that I was travelling. This post will require a bit of background, as it comes round to an idea for the application of social media advocacy very much on the basis of a more traditional look at – in this case – the part of the equation sometimes called the supply side of corruption: corporate bribery.
Among other meetings in the Netherlands, I attended Ethical Corporation‘s 2nd European Anti-corruption summit. What struck me there was how seriously many corporations take corruption as a legal compliance issue without necessarily taking into full view the broader societal implications of corruption and what business can do to help address these. In other words, following the string of latest corporate cases and at least some efforts by government to prosecute these more vigorously – with prominent exceptions – (see TI’s latest progress report on enforcement of the OECD Anti-bribery convention here for details) there is a heightened sense of awareness among big business that the legal risks incurred by corruption are considerable and that at least individually, businesses need to act.
Very few companies however seem to regard anti-corruption as a fundamental corporate responsibility issue yet (though there were a few notable presentations and conversations highlighting the importance of doing just that during the conference). Approaching anti-corruption as a responsibility issue not limited to compliance with the law (while that of course is fundamental) has the potential to not only protect one business from legal harm (a damaged reputation and lost business, jail time for senior management, etc. included) but to benefit society at large by helping to create the environment for sustainable development. Real opportunities exist for example for business to become engaged with collective action approaches against corruption (a good resource on these has been compiled here) that can help move the debate in the compliance and quite a lot more direction.