We collaborate with clients to design, develop and deploy global ethics and compliance programmes that define escalation procedures, and strengthen your code of business conduct and that are tailored to your business requirements.
We are experts in developing innovative and engaging materials that support face to face education - from dilemma-based kits rolled out to large global audiences, to leadership workshops that focus on ethical decision-making.
For over 20 years STEELE has delivered creative solutions that help organisations address emerging and complex compliance needs.» more
+44 (0)207 2427400
“I want to see an anti-corruption culture that is based on genuinely held values and not simply compliance with the strict letter of the law”
- Richard Alderman, Head of the UK Serious Fraud Office
The Bribery Bill, when enacted, looks like becoming the most far reaching piece of anti-bribery legislation to date. Its breadth and, in particular, its extraterritorial effect, is such that all international companies should review relevant systems, policies and procedures.
It follows a pattern of legislation and enforcement pioneered in the US through the FCPA (the Foreign & Corrupt Practices Act) and continues a trend of regulators seeking to promote changes in corporate behaviour through strong deterrent penalties and self-disclosure incentives.
A fundamental policy element of the Bill is to heighten corporate sensitivity to the risk of corrupt behaviour through a strict liability corporate offence. If any person who “performs services for or on behalf of” an organisation is found guilty of bribery, then the organisation will be guilty of an offence, unless it can show they had “adequate procedures” in place to prevent such associates from committing bribery.
Guidance from the UK Government as to what constitutes “adequate procedures” is anticipated for July, 2010, but it will undoubtedly remain high level and open to interpretation. Equally, what is “adequate” will depend on the individual circumstances and context of each relevant organisation. Though much will remain vague, appropriate education within an organisation will be a fundamental element in the demonstration of “adequate procedures”.
Companies that have already established meaningful anti-corruption programmes as part of their US FCPA compliance tend to leverage both eLearning and face-to-face education. Regardless of format, the learning objectives for any international organisation should be to ensure their mainstream employee base has a good awareness of the company’s anticorruption policies, what can constitute a bribe and where to go for advice and guidance. For employees, managers and executives operating in higher risk functions (e.g. sales, procurement, marketing) or particularly high risk countries (Transparency International’s corruption perception index forms the basis for most companies assessment of their “highest” locations) there will be a need to go to a much greater level of familiarity with relevant legislation, company policies and sensitive to red flags for identifying potential corrupt behaviour.
True understanding and retention of the issues occurs in the rigour of a debate which enable individuals to connect with the situation and personalize the issues (i.e. engaging rather than telling). Critically, effective education need not dwell on the technical aspects and specific sections of any final Bribery Act, but must bring to life the implications of the Act. Using real life business scenarios that recognise the genuine challenges of getting business done in a safe, ethical and compliant manner, should help individuals to relate to the content, recognise the challenges, take on-board options for how to navigate and crucially understand when they need to pause and seek further guidance.
Taking lessons for effective educational embedding from companies with meaningful existing anti-bribery programs (normally driven by FCPA motivations), the most crucial point is not promoting anti-corruption messages in a silo, but tightly tying to your business strategy and your broader ethics and compliance program. The more your educational strategy provides a clear context for individual learners and a connection to your overall business purpose, the more likely that your messages become embedded and lived as simply part of your business culture.
In practice there are many different ways to execute on such a strategy, but elements often being well leveraged include:
- Senior level engagement: facilitated debate on why this topic matters for the business, potential impact on existing activities, approaches for managing risk/ seizing opportunity, endorsement of agreed approached and methods to demonstrate “actions from the top”.
- Management workshops: more granular workshops looking at impact on day to day operating policies, opportunity for rigorous debate to ensure understanding and buy-in to corporate policy goes beyond “lip-service”, but rather is derived from a clear understanding of risk and opportunity on both business and individual levels.
- Workforce rollout: dependent on individual business requirements key anti-corruption concepts may be highlighted in broader corporate Code of Conduct education, or for higher risk functions and locations the key messages are transferred into clear operating policy, with localised education focusing on required behaviour and where to go for help.
There is no simple “right way” to embed appropriate awareness and understanding of the pending Bribery Act, but there are important lessons from related efforts by global companies and when delivered in engaging and relevant formats the impact should go beyond anti-corruption to re-enforce broader corporate culture messages.