May 16, 2009
Assuming your company is sending the right message from the top, the next challenge is ensuring ownership beyond headquarters. How can anti-bribery compliance be made relevant to managers in the field? We have two suggestions.
One compelling and cost-effective way to roll out responsibility for compliance is to require annual certifications from managers that they are not aware of, or do not have reasonable suspicion of, any inappropriate payments made by employees or commercial intermediaries in furtherance of bids or contracts for which they’re responsible. (They should also have the opportunity to indicate and expand if they do have knowledge or suspicion of inappropriate payments.) Most companies require annual training or other certifications of their employees, so an additional certification should not be unduly burdensome. The very act of signing their name to such a certification, on the other hand, can be quite powerful. We have been told that it makes managers pause and ask questions, when they otherwise might not have. Certifications won’t prevent employees determined to break the law, but they will emphasize the importance of anti-bribery compliance for those who are uninformed or who have been indifferent.
More persuasive than just a signature, however, is having real skin in the game. Companies that have added compliance to the categories on employee performance reviews report, not surprisingly, an immediate increase in interest in the issue. Training and reporting requirements are more readily observed. Interaction with the compliance department increases. When a company announces that anti-bribery compliance—or apathy—will have a financial impact on employees, it sends a potent message about the company’s priorities and determination.