- ISO 37001 is an effective tool against corruption.
- An increasing number of companies, both public and private, are adopting the standard.
- Many areas are concerned.
Corruption and bribery are ancient problems. Together with tax evasion, they cost society more than $1 trillion a year. Crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, unfortunately, create contexts conducive to criminal conduct of this nature. That gives businesses a double imperative to take the necessary action now to protect themselves and the public from these risks.
In competitive environments, such as the business world, controls are important. As Chris Albin-Lackey writes, “When companies do business in a regulatory vacuum, they make their own rules.”
We have all seen in the news how problematic this approach can be. Self-regulation has led to some of the worst business-related disasters in living memory. From oil spills to financial crises, the road to many terrible events has been paved on the presumed good intentions of companies.
Crucially, commentators have highlighted that for companies to decide themselves whether products and services are safe for the public is inherently misguided: companies have overwhelming incentives for making products and services simply appear to be safe.
“This fundamental conflict of interest is at the heart of why industry self-regulation doesn’t work,” writes Amit Narang.
Therefore, in the fight against bribery, it becomes clear that self-regulation is insufficient: fortunately, a remedy exists.
ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management Systems Standard, published by the International Organisation for Standardisation, is a powerful tool for tackling risks of bribery. The standard offers a blueprint for establishing truly effective anti-bribery programmes in line with the risk profile of a given organisation. It helps groups to foster a culture of ethical behaviour and it can be integrated into a company’s existing management system.
Most importantly, it sets a universal bar for anti-bribery practices, regardless of the territory or industry in question.
Because the standard requires independent accreditation, it demonstrates to the world that an organisation willingly exposes itself to scrutiny in order to keep the level of its business practices on a par with the best.
The standard defines clear roles for boards and senior management, and also helps to embed a culture of compliance within the organisation. This helps international organisations to develop a consistent approach to dealing with risks of bribery, wherever they operate, irrespective of who they are working with, or at which level of the structure an issue occurs.
The standard also grants organisations a framework through which to scrutinise their potential partners. Because the standard creates a universal language for anti-bribery practices, it is also easier to engage with other organisations and communicate group ethical expectations effectively.
Of course, the ultimate prize is that the chances of an ISO anti-bribery certified organisation being caught out by such risks is significantly reduced. No solution is 100 percent effective, but it does mean that if something were to go wrong, authorities will see that the certified company did what it could to reduce the chances of misconduct.
An increasing number of organisations seek accreditation
The city state of Singapore took measures to achieve ISO 37001 accreditation in 2017, understanding the value of having international standards that demonstrate its zero-tolerance approach to bribery.
Malaysia, a nation in need of change in the wake of a number bribery scandals, has also seen many companies pursuing accreditation. By doing so, companies like Prolintas Group demonstrate that regardless of local problems, they have global standards on ethics that have been independently verified.
Even for European companies, less dogged by bribery scandals, there are clear advantages to gaining anti-bribery accreditation. Some industries, such as those engaging in international tender processes for infrastructure or government projects, are considered at higher risk. For this reason, many companies have been acquiring ISO accreditation in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
A new addition to the ranks of companies taking a stand against bribery is Yuyu Pharma in South Korea. The company took steps to establish internal measures that meet ISO, and recently initiated the process of incorporating the standard into its management system. The project is expected to take six months to complete and the company expects to receive ISO 37001 certification by the first quarter of 2021.
“We at Yuyu stand against bribery and corruption with the highest level of integrity and transparency. By pursuing ISO 37001 certification in 2020-2021 we hope to demonstrate that commitment,” said, Robert Wonsasng Yu, the company’s CEO.