Bribery and corruption remain a major issue affecting many countries around the world with the World Bank estimating that over $1 trillion US dollars are paid in bribes every year. It has become a modern-day cause of instability, inequality, and poverty, especially in many developing economies.
As such, bribery is becoming a high-priority public concern reflecting civic and legal pressures. Despite this, many businesses each year still find themselves embroiled in corruption scandals.
“In many cases, it has been tolerated as a ‘necessary’ part of doing business. However, increasing awareness of the damage caused by bribery to countries, organizations, and individuals has resulted in calls for effective action to be taken to prevent bribery,” says Neill Stansbury, Chair of ISO project committee ISO/PC 278 responsible for the new standard, the ISO 37001.
So, what can you do to minimize the risk in your company? In this blog post, we look at three companies that have taken steps to beat bribery.
One important tool that many companies have adopted in their anti-bribery management is the adoption of the ISO 37001 standard. Launched in 2016, ISO 37001 (Anti-Bribery Management System Certification) is the latest management standard that can help companies establish and implement anti-bribery compliance policies.
Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), certification to ISO 37001 supports stakeholders in establishing processes to detect, manage, and prevent bribery within their organization. An ISO 37001 certification offers a practical approach to understanding bribery risks in your company. It is a tool that can help companies build a competitive advantage, and is insurance against reputational damage.
“Bribery is, unfortunately, a worldwide phenomenon with serious consequences for society and the economy. Companies and organizations of all types and sizes can actively fight corruption and the associated negative effects by establishing a management system in accordance with ISO 37001,” says Erich Grünes, who is in charge of certification of management systems against corruption at TÜV Rheinland.
Having ISO 37001 in place, companies will have more control to mitigate their risks by auditing and subsequently certifying their anti-corruption management systems. Another benefit is that it enables companies to document the fact that they have taken action preventing bribery and corruption altogether.
"This is an important signal not just to customers, business partners, or investors, but also to the companies' employees," continues Grünes.
With that said, let's take a look at some organizations that have beaten bribery and what their examples mean after implementing the ISO 37001 standard:
- Microsoft. The technology giant has taken a pro-active stance towards anti-bribery. In 2017, it publicly announced that they would be the first US (and multi-national) company to seek to certify its anti-corruption compliance efforts to the latest international anti-bribery standard.
"We think ISO 37001 is going to be an important tool for improving anti-corruption efforts," says Judd Hesselroth to the ISO, Programs Director in the Office of Legal Compliance at Microsoft.
For Microsoft, ISO 37001 gives the company the blueprint of a "much-needed common language" to set the best global practices for anti-bribery schemes across its operations. "It will provide any organization with a global benchmark to evaluate, improve, or build its own anti-bribery program. It will also give confidence to stakeholders (e.g., customers, suppliers, shareholders, etc.) that the organization has met the global benchmark," explains Hesselroth.
- Alstom. While the French power and rail transportation company has been embroiled in some issues in the past, it has since then taken steps to become the first French company to obtain the ISO 37001 certification following an audit carried out between March and May 2017 at seven sites in France and Europe, then Asia-Pacific in 2018, and finally North America, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America in 2019.
This makes Alstom one of the few companies that are globally certified in every territory in which it operates.
“The global certification of Alstom’s anti-bribery compliance program constitutes another important milestone in Alstom’s continued efforts to improve the efficiency of its integrity program and we are very proud of Alstom’s leading position,” says Inge De Venter, Alstom Chief Compliance Officer.
- SKK Migas. Indonesia's Upstream Oil and Gas Special Regulatory Task Force (SKK Migas) also became ISO 37001-certified in October 2018. Implementation started in mid-2017 and became the latest addition to the state regulator's other reputable certifications, the ISO 9001 (Quality) and 14001 (Environmental) management systems.
Throughout ISO 37001, stakeholders have equipped the organization with new management guidelines aimed at preventing bribery.
"If we can eradicate bribery practices in the upstream oil and gas sector, it will be easier for businesses to make investment decisions. This, hopefully, will make investment more attractive and eventually boost investment in the sector," says Amien Sunaryadi, Head of SKK Migas.
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Does your organization want to get a head start in curbing bribery and corruption within your ranks?
If your answer is yes, then you should consider obtaining the ISO 37001 standard.
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As a leading testing, inspection, and ISO certification services provider, TÜV Rheinland has gained the distinction of being among the first accredited bodies authorized to grant certification for the new ISO 37001 global standard. Through a decade’s worth of experience in compliance issues and regulation, we have established our very own compliance standard that meets client needs and requirements. Through the years, our clients have relied on us to provide the best solutions to their compliance problems by utilizing current, proven technologies with cutting-edge innovations. Take advantage of our knowledge and expertise to become ISO 37001 certified today!
Disclaimer: All organizations and companies referenced are intended as case studies for educational and informational purposes only.