Now, more than ever, companies need to take action and implement serious and effective anti-corruption measures as part of their business strategy. Corruption Commissions, inquisitive media and police investigators have recently highlighted the number of frauds that frequently emanate from corporate IT departments. From higher education institutions to banks, seemingly sophisticated organisations are finding that there is something about IT that can make it susceptible to fraudsters.
It maybe paradoxical that in 2016’s ideas boom, mature organisations don’t appear to have any idea when it comes to tech-talk or managing fraud. Indeed we have found that some senior executives – including those in normally finicky finance departments – have been blindsided by requests for expensive and complex systems that were eventually discovered to be either unnecessary, did not exist – or it they did, the order never eventuated. That is despite costly invoices having been paid. (In a recent incident, investigations revealed that a disturbing number of cheques to pay ‘supplier’ invoices were actually sent to the IT manager’s home address.)
Judging by media reports there are a lot more fraudsters out there, weaving a deceitful web around trusting executives who fail to challenge the necessity of the procurement in the first place, and are equally incurious about where the cheques are going.
Not all of these matters are prosecuted and draw media attention. When they do (and even when they don’t ) get to court, the skills of my team are called upon to help manage the fall out. We often find a messy mixture of brand damage, angry workforces and customers, and, humiliated senior management.
Prosecutions in these matters are rare, and calls to the fraud squad even rarer. Senior managers already traumatised by their misplaced trust in apparently affable and often highly paid colleagues, naturally shy away from any further intrusion. The aftermath of any fraud can corrode workplace culture, risking confidence in management, distrust of fellow workers, and sometimes, the implementation of lengthy and convoluted new measures designed to prevent the bad behavior from recurring.
While it is clear that corruption impedes business growth, increases costs and poses serious legal and reputational risks, what is less clear is how to prevent it in the first place.
For those looking for a starting point, the United Nations Global Compact offers guidance through its Business Against Corruption: A Framework for Action.
This framework offers businesses a practical road map and tools to help develop policies that can help eliminate corruption.
Below are six steps we recommend when using the global compact framework to promote transparency and accountability in an organization:
Step 1 – Commit:
Leadership is important. Show your employees and customers that your company does not tolerate corruption. Make detecting corruption a central pillar of operations.
Step 2 – Assess:
Identify what areas of your business are most at risk and then develop a plan to address any potential problems.
Step 3 – Define:
Define your anti-corruption goals, strategies and polices. At this stage it is important to get buy-in from your employees and stakeholders by showing them the importance of your new polices.
Step 4 – Implement:
Implement strategies and policies throughout your company and value chain.
Step 5 – Measure:
For any policy to be truly successful it must be measured. Areas that need improvement can be readily identified.
Step 6 – Communicate:
Communicate your progress to all customers, employees and stakeholders. This transparency will build trust, show your policies are backed with rigor and demonstrate your commitment to having a corruption free organisation.
Written by Jacquelynne Willcox, Managing Director and Executive Vice President, Powell Tate Australia.