June 11, 2015
A Proactive Approach is the Best Approach to Supply Chain Corruption
On a macro level, a culture of corruption is demoralizing. Productivity declines, staff turnover increases and, otherwise ethical, employees become persuaded by corruption or leave the company.
The traditional approach to managing supply chain corruption is a ‘reactive’ one. Typically, an organization receives a complaint, either internally or externally, anonymous or otherwise, then launches a formal investigation. However, due to stringent worker protection laws, such as those in China and Vietnam (where a code of ethics may not be legally recognized), the burden of proof is stacked heavily in favor of the party laying the charge of corrupt practices. So much so that, even if there is strong evidence to support it, summary dismissal is often not upheld when challenged in a labor court. Even video evidence of an employee accepting a bribe can be deemed insufficient and, unless there is concrete proof that the suspect has requested payment, it is often the company, instead, which is taken to labor court. Given the limitations of this more traditional approach, it is critical that companies also take proactive measures.
While rigorous investigations should remain a cornerstone of any anti-corruption program, it is critical that companies adopt a holistic approach. Incorporating a successful, preventative program should keep good employees out of trouble and give those more inclined towards unethical behavior pause for thought and even redress.
Front and center of a company’s anti-corruption program is its code of ethics. This should be communicated effectively across the company and embedded within its culture. Not only should the code of ethics be driven by senior management but there must be ‘support from the middle’; engraining integrity in day-to-day operations across the local offices and in the orientation of new employees.
Fundamental to a successful anti-corruption program should be regular integrity training at both corporate level and across local teams. The purpose of these training sessions are threefold; to introduce or elevate awareness, clarify a company’s expectations, and provide tools and resources to employees should they encounter unethical situations.
Omega advocates training based on real-life scenarios, specific to each local market. It is important that employees understand a company’s expectations on handling of unethical situations, such as attempted bribery. For example, just because the employee didn’t accept a bribe doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bribe and it should therefore be reported.
In Omega’s experience, training sessions are typically followed by a spike in reports of unethical behavior allowing companies to understand where the potential hotspots may be and focus resources accordingly.
Managing an anti-corruption program across multiple offices, in culturally distinct markets, can be daunting. Omega has vast experience dealing with supply chain integrity risks. For more information on how Omega can help your business, please contact us.