Transparency International is well-known for its advocacy of greater transparency and accountability in business and believes business plays an important role in ending the corruption that too often hurts the vulnerable and exacerbates poverty.
Huguette Labelle, the former chair of Transparency International, was invited to speak at the opening session of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Business Forum. She used this opportunity to reinforce our calls for a more transparent and accountable private sector and reminded the audience that achieving Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, its anti-corruption component, is essential to the success of all the other goals.
Here are six ways business can set an example:
1. By being conspicuously transparent, operating with integrity and accountability in all operations.
2. By publically disclosing and regularly monitoring strong anti-bribery and anti-corruption systems throughout all operations and those of subsidiaries.
3. By publishing financial accounts for each country of operations and publishing clearly what is paid to each government in taxes, concession fees and other contributions. This not only builds trust in the company but is also a deterrent to extortion and people can see if the money paid by business to governments is accounted for.
4. By listing who the real beneficial owners of their company and their subsidiaries are, and by promoting with governments the establishment of public registers of beneficial owners.
5. By supporting and promoting governance reforms in all state institutions at all levels including at the local level to ensure that they perform well and for the betterment of society.
6. By initiating and supporting collective action with civil society organisations, labour, academic institutions and governments, business can multiply the capacity for action.
The SDGs are a tremendous opportunity for the business sector to consider its value creation and contributions towards a more equitable, secure and peaceful world. This could also help reverse declining trust in both governments and the business sector.
One of the indicators for measuring SDG 16.5 – substantially reducing bribery and corruption by 2030 – puts businesses on the spot. It specifically wants to measure the reduction in private sector bribery by reducing the “proportion of businesses that had at least one contact with a public official and that paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials during the previous 12 months.’’
Transparency International has been assessing corporate transparency since 2008. In 2015 a report looked at transparency in the telecommunications sector and last year we tackled emerging markets. We continue to push for public registers of corporate ownership, most notably with the Group of 20 largest economies who have promised much but still failed to deliver. See our report Just for Show.
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