Anti-bribery and anti-corruption is firmly on the boardroom agenda and strategies on corporate governance and compliance can help manage risks to businesses.
Despite the fact that many countries have strengthened and widened the scope of their national anti-corruption legislation, a 2013 study by Ernst & Young revealed that nearly half of workers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India think bribery and corruption are acceptable ways to survive an economic downturn. While there remains no international anti-corruption law, the UK’s Bribery Act 2010 and the USA’s Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act have played an intrinsic part in tackling the issue of bribery and corruption on a global basis, across businesses and sectors. In addressing the issue, many businesses have focussed on governance and compliance, including in areas such as leadership, effectiveness, accountability and human rights.
In a wider context, the importance of governance is emerging as nations get to grips with a transitioning global economy. For investors interested in developing markets, due diligence on the governance strategies of individual companies is well advised. At the same time, companies seeking to raise capital through a stock market listing are often required to meet strict governance guidelines. Companies with good corporate governance strategies perform better in terms of shareholder returns than those without and these policies are being driven from the board level down. However, without one international standard to tackle bribery and corruption, ongoing developments in national regulations create significant challenges for companies seeking to compete in a global market place.
In 2015 the anti-corruption group Transparency International surveyed over 40,000 people across 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The results highlighted the extent of the challenge, but also revealed success stories of recent developments in legislation and regulation. One in five Africans claim to be affected by bribery, but anti-corruption measures are having a tangible impact on the confidence of the business community and the survey revealed that in a number of nations, corruption is on a long term downward trend. Africa is seen as an attractive emerging market as a result of better infrastructure and technological improvements and is an example of how technology can be utilised to improve decision making and governance.
China has underlined its commitment to improve global economic governance by proposing its five development philosophies at the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in October, 2015. Since then the development philosophies of ‘innovation’, ‘coordination’, ‘green’ and ‘open and sharing’ have triggered President Xi to visit five countries in Africa and Asia. The Paris Conference on Climate Change and the Second World Internet Conference have also seen China represented by the highest levels of government.