Blowing the whistle
Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: V&V
"As a local buyer for a professional
services firm, it is very disenchanting to discover that our international
director is often accepting gifts such as complimentary air tickets
from a supplier for his biased selection of their services.
As the Czech Republic is often singled out for engaging in corrupt
business practices, foreign managers should be especially wary
of setting bad examples. Rather than waiting for better laws and
public education programs to change behaviors and attitudes, companies
must initiate internal policies to minimize damage within their
own sphere of control. Your example is good cause for proposing
a corporate responsibility plan to executive management.
Doing so will improve the image of your company in the eyes of
the media, consumers, and employees, consequently giving your team
an advantage on the market. According to ethics expert Ronald Berenbeim,
a business practices program often includes:
- Defining what constitutes wrongdoing. It is critical to classify
inappropriate conduct using examples and case studies given that
interpretations can vary widely. Typical fraud scenarios include
gifts, entertainment practices, propriety payments for "facilitating" administrative
procedures, and insider investment information.
- Institutionalizing and conveying whistle-blowing policies
and procedures. All employees should receive written copies of
the company's confidentiality and whistle-blower protection policies
in addition to training on identifying and reporting misconduct.
Discussion forums and open-door policies with executive management
and objective third party members should be standard.
- Making information freely available to all employees including
part-timers and contractors, suppliers, and customers. Encourage
suppliers and customers to report unprofessional business practices.
- Facilitating the whistle-blowing process. Put a highly trained
corporate business practice manager in place with full responsibility
and convictions for assuring that the program works. Larger companies
may want to consider offering an advice and reporting hotline.
Reference source: Company Programs for Resisting Corrupt Practices:
A Global Study (New York: The Conference Board, 2000.)
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive
Director, LeMoine & Associates
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