Transparency International acknowledges the potential from business integrity programme

TI representatives from 40 chapters completed a three-day Business Integrity Programme (BIP) workshop in Berlin in March. The 48 Chapter Representatives who attended the Siemen’s funded program are collectively excited about the potential for important work with business in their countries to improve integrity standards within companies but also through them to make a contribution to curbing corruption via collective action with civil society.

They strongly believe that if the movement is to be effective in addressing and preventing corruption, it needs the muscle of strong finance institutions, corporates, lawyers and accountants. Governments and civil society lack the resources to maintain effective structures to combat corruption without the funds and support which business provides in the form of tax revenues and established standards of good corporate governance.

An excellent initiative for TI to harness support from the private sector and now a reality in many countries, is the creation of Business Supporters’ Fora (BSF). These enable TI to engage with business, help them to benchmark against best practices and provide a safe space where they can learn from each others’ challenges. For many Chapters in the developed and developing world, where funding from government sources is not available, corporate membership of such BSFs provides a modest but important source of revenue to maintain a basic local capability to advance our anti-corruption work.

The depth of the above wide commitment to BIP stands however in contrast to strong views held by many in TI that we should not work closely with business. There remains a lack of an agreed harmonised approach to business and this makes the work of our BIP teams around the world difficult and at times demotivating.

This situation has become more acute in relation to TI’s strategy 2020. While the BIP teams fully understand the No Impunity campaign, they are disturbed that actions can be initiated relating to business scandals in a particular country without carefully listening to input from impacted TI chapters. Unless we follow this procedure we can be perceived as superficial in our condemnations and we can damage legitimate efforts in the countries concerned to develop dialogue with newly installed managers who are driving for the implementation of anti-corruption standards, often in challenging environments where support from TI can be important. A case in point is the Petrobras situation where the company is both perpetrator and victim of corrupt schemes and where a completely new board, with assigned responsibility for ethics and integrity, supported by new compliance leaders, has begun its work.

Perhaps inevitably, business representatives at the Berlin conference reminded TI that they value precisely our focus on dialogue and help, while at the same time understanding our need to speak out

Direct criticism of business will close many doors to TI for future positive interchange. The accent we send to the world will directly impact the ability of the BIP efforts around the world to be successful.

The BIP teams have developed a level of energy and enthusiasm for the impact that their work can generate in many countries and believe they can collectively make important contributions to the mission of TI.


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