Six months after the start of the UK Bribery Act, many companies are working hard to implement anti-bribery procedures. The Bribery Act makes it illegal for companies to fail to prevent bribery. The best defence for a company against this liability is to prove it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery within the organisation.
The quality of these procedures varies widely from company to company. Some organisations have done a lot and are putting strong measures in place. Some are failing, having done distressingly little compared to their obligations under the law.
The quality of a company’s training programmes is a key factor in determining the level of understanding and implementation of anti-bribery procedures. Experts in the field say some companies have pretty good training – putting a lot of staff through it– but others haven’t even really started, particularly smaller firms.
In order to address the corruption risk at various levels throughout an organisation, the right balance needs to be struck between e-learning, group training and one-to-one training.
The majority of a company’s staff needs training and e-learning is usually the answer. Beyond that certain people who are much higher risk because they travel to certain countries or have certain functions in the company – such as sales – need much more training. Some firms have achieved this, but many have probably had an over-reliance on mass training and were not specific enough when training high-risk employees, experts say. That is where the focus needs to be in the future.
The course takes participants through scenarios many businesspeople confront
This month, with the help of e-learning company Inmarkets and management consultant FTI Consulting, Transparency International UK launched Doing Business Without Bribery – a free anti-bribery training toolkit which enables companies to meet both legal and ethical anti-bribery requirements.
We think that this is the best training there is. It demonstrates best practice by giving Transparency International’s view of how to deal with very complex circumstances in an extremely practical way that is ethical and realistic. It helps companies with their ‘adequate procedures’ because training is a fundamental part of implementation.
We view this new toolkit as a next generation of training, taking learning into new areas. It is much more in-depth, far more complex, and gives a more sophisticated understanding of how bribery happens and how to respond to difficult and challenging circumstances. The course benefits from TI’s global expertise, accumulated from working with a wide range of companies over the last eighteen years. While much of the existing training courses on offer last for around half an hour, Doing Business Without Bribery runs for over 100 minutes, taking the user through a range of realistic scenarios where they might encounter a bribery risk.
One such situation is request for payment at an airport to ‘process entry’ into a country. Although this should be provided free of charge, there are many countries where the border staff request such a fee. The course takes the user through this scenario, suggesting ways to respond to the various claims that may be given by the border staff.
The UK Bribery Act covers tens of thousands of UK-based companies and non-UK companies that carry out business in the UK. A strong and well-thought training regime can help ensure that these organisations do not fall foul of their ethical and legal obligations.