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Business Integrity Programme

Photo: Freddie Collins / unsplash.com

What's at stake?

A government launching a competitive tender, a company setting up operations abroad, a politician raising funds to campaign for office – these are just a few of the areas where corruption can breed. When it does, resources that should otherwise be allocated to public services are wasted, corrupt individuals benefit at the expense of others, and societies suffer as a whole.

Scandal after scandal involving the businesses shows that there is a long way to go before fine words and good intentions are transformed into concrete progress.

Increasing income inequalities, human rights violations and unprecedented environmental damage all signal that companies, business associations, think tanks and business leaders increasingly recognise the need to change. There is an increased acknowledgement of their responsibility to fight corruption and support political and business integrity through broadening the purpose of companies.

What we're doing about it

As much as we celebrate the change and progress made to date in tackling business corruption, recent developments, including the cancerous impact of corruption on the UN SDGs, and the exponential challenges initiated by technology, demand the initiation of an intense next phase, which includes a significant collaboration with businesses and business associations to fight corruption and strengthen integrity.

In an era of unprecedented globalisation and transnational supply chains, efforts to tackle private sector corruption require the engagement of multiple stakeholders. We build and work with coalitions of governments, public institutions and civil society to advocate for a stronger and more effective anti-corruption environment. We work to create a level playing field and the highest possible standard of business ethics and good practice; we also work with companies and business associations to promote robust anti-corruption culture and behaviour.

We work with a number of governmental, non-governmental and civil society organisations, such as the UN Global Compact and World Economic Forum, to end private sector corruption. Our national chapters drive the anti-corruption agenda with the private sector in their countries, working with government, business and in coalitions to effect change.

Who's involved

Transparency International convenes and chairs the Business Principles Steering Committee, a multi-stakeholder group of businesses, civil society, trade unions and experts. The Steering Committee is responsible for the Business Principles for Countering Bribery, a leading anti-bribery code for business.

We work with a number of governmental, non-governmental and civil society organisations, such as the UN Global Compact and World Economic Forum, to end private sector corruption.

Our national chapters drive the anti-corruption agenda with the private sector in their countries, working with government, business and in coalitions to effect change.

Our approach

In order to tackle the challenges with a long-term perspective, while at the same time being able to address upcoming crises and issues, we have adopted a project-based approach for our Business Integrity Programme. This approach will enable us to research, field test and implement our ideas and solutions, through our open and transparent private sector engagement, while maintaining our independence.

We will grant selected businesses the unique opportunity to partner and work with us, by supporting one of the following global thematic areas listed here:

  • Business purpose (all industries)
  • Professional service firms (advisory, accounting, strategic consulting)
  • Technology and related industries
  • Business integrity tools

A critical factor for the success of our thematic projects and the widespread and practical implementation of the developed solutions lies in the initiation and implementation of a trustful multi-stakeholder platform, which brings together businesses, academia, regulators and civil society to analyze, recommend and support the wide implementation of such solutions. Our Business Integrity Platform aims to bring all relevant actors together. This platform is set by two main layers of engagement with which we are going to connect to and work with:

  • Business Purpose Guidance Council – an expert group to analyse, research and develop solutions and guidance as well as measurements for the effective implementation of the new Purpose of a Company and promoting transparency in businesses
  • Business Integrity Board – a diverse group of business leaders to advise on strategic direction and long-term focus areas on business integrity; also by providing access to their organisations’ C-Level

Research and standards

Research shows that companies with anti-corruption programmes and ethical guidelines are involved in up to 50 per cent fewer incidents of corruption, and are less likely to lose business opportunities than companies without such programmes.

We establish standards and support for companies of all sizes with a six-step process for building an effective anti-corruption programme, self-evaluation tool, anti-corruption reporting guidance and assurance framework.

Building on the Business Principles for Countering Bribery, our anti-corruption standard for companies, the Business Integrity Programme has developed a number of cutting-edge knowledge products and tools focusing on corruption and the business sector. Many of them are integrated into the Business Integrity Toolkit, a user-friendly, six-step guide for companies on how to implement an effective anti-corruption programme - from high- level commitment, to planning and monitoring the programme, to regular reporting on its progress.

State owned enterprises

State-owned enterprises face particular corruption risks due to their proximity to politicians, the vulnerability of the sectors they operate in, and the wealth and resources they manage.

The latest addition to our suite of tools is the 10 Anti-Corruption Principles for State- Owned Enterprises, setting out best-practice principles on how SOEs can develop policies and procedures to counter corruption-risks.

Transparency in corporate reporting

Corporate transparency is a key element of robust anti-corruption practices and a means of monitoring the measures companies use to counter corruption. TI believes that public reporting demonstrates a company’s commitment to combating corruption, making companies more accountable for any shortcomings. Improved practices are an important building block in improving a country’s overall business integrity environment.

The report series, Transparency in Corporate Reporting (TRAC), is TI’s flagship study on the business sector. It assesses and ranks major companies according to their disclosure practices in three relevant areas:

● Anti-corruption programmes

●Organisational transparency

● Key financial information on a country-by-country basis

As part of the methodology, TI engages with the assessed companies with the aim to improve corporate transparency standards.

Since 2008, TI has published a number of TRAC reports, including two global studies focusing on the world’s largest companies (published in 2012 and 2014), and two studies assessing the transparency of emerging market multinationals (in 2013 and 2016).

A TRAC study focusing on the telecommunications sector was completed in 2015.

National TRAC studies are produced by TI National Chapters, the most recent national reports were launched in Brazil, Chile and Russia in 2018.

Business integrity country agenda

The Business Integrity Country Agenda (BICA) initiative is TI’s newest approach to assessing and improving business integrity at the country level. BICAs aim to create a body of evidence on business integrity practices and conditions in a country, and serve as the basis for building a shared reform agenda and collective action. BICA reports also provide important insights for risk assessment measures by companies.

The BICA process takes place in two main stages:

● Assessment: evaluation of indicators related to the three major stakeholder groups that influence the level of business integrity in a country: the public sector, the business sector, and civil society. The process is supported by a multi-stakeholder National Advisory Group.

● Collective action: the National Advisory Group assists with translating the findings of the assessment into a detailed reform agenda implemented over a longer timeframe.

For more information about Transparency International’s private sector-related work, please contact: BIP@transparency.org or your local chapter.

Priorities