BRIBERY CORRUPTION ETHICS
Singapore – While Singaporean leaders are unlikely to accept or offer bribes according to a recently released study, companies should not get complacent and must continue to offer sufficient business ethics training, local experts say.
A new study by global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Singapore eighth on the list of countries least likely to engage in bribery. With a score of 8.3, Singapore falls just slightly behind regional peers Japan (8.6) and Australia (6.5).
Joel Whitaker, head of research at Corporate Executive Board Asia Pacific, said setting the right ethical tone has to come from the top down. “Leaders are the absolute drivers of ethical behaviour for the organisation as a whole,” he said.
However, he added training programmes to help identify and understand bribery should not be made exclusive to just employees who are at the top of the management ladder.
“It should be broad-based, and be integrated into the overall employee training around compliance, code of conduct, and corporate values,” Whitaker said. He said the human resources (HR) function within the organisation is also in the best position to reach out to employees and provide a safe environment should staff need to talk about possible bribery cases.
“HR is often the most trusted central function in terms of people being comfortable coming forward with concerns or asking for clarification about very delicate issues like bribery,” Whitaker said. He added HR has an important role in reinforcing through things like training, certification, firm-wide communication, performance management and incentives to drive up accountability.
The Transparency Bribe Payers Index found the Dutch and Swiss to be the least likely countries to engage in bribery, with both countries scoring 8.8. China and Russian came in the bottom two slots with 6.5 and 6.1 respectively.
“It is of particular concern that China and Russia are at the bottom of the index,” the report said. “Given the increasing global presence of businesses from these countries, bribery and corruption are likely to have substantial impact on the societies in which they operate and on the ability of companies to compete fairly in these markets.”
The report was published on the eve of the G-20 summit in Cannes this week, as leaders meet to approve more anti-corruption measures. The report said such measures are important as corruption severely impacts the fair awarding of contracts, the quality of services and undermines trust.
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