Businesses Need To Develop An Ethical Culture That Has Zero Tolerance For Corrupt Behaviour

PwC's 5 forces that will reshape the local and global anti-corruption landscape over the next 5 years


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Business leaders have an ethical role to combat bribery and corruption – this is an economic and business imperative.

Bribery and corruption is rife, reaching a crossroads in some countries to the extent of incapacitating governments and policy makers that have to deal with a spate of corrupt scandals. It is estimated that US$1 trillion is paid each year in bribes globally, and that US$2.6 trillion is lost to corruption.

Dealing with corruption demands action that goes beyond developing a compliance programme and including a line item on a risk register. PwC has developed a report predicting five forces that will reshape the global and South African landscape of anti-bribery and anti-corruption over the coming five years.

PwC’s five predictions for the next five years and beyond

  1. Enforcement will continue to evolve and spread geographically: We believe that enforcement will continue to expand and evolve globally in the coming years – and that this well-established direction of travel will be unaffected by the changing political and economic landscape.
  2. Societal action will be more effective than toothless compliance regimes or unenforced regulation: Public sentiment over inequality and corruption has been given a voice in recent years by the rise of social media. People suffering the consequences of corruption now have not only the motivation but also the means to expose, denounce and confront any wrongdoing, often with the support of NGOs and the press.
  3. Technology will enable automated and preventative compliance: In the next five years digital technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies will deliver substantial improvements in the speed and efficiency of anti-corruption compliance strategy and processes.
  4. As societies become increasingly cashless, facilitation payments will fall: A number of countries across the world are well advanced in replacing physical cash with electronic means of exchange. Globally, it’s estimated that the rise of electronic payment systems and cryptocurrencies means the number of transactions in physical cash could fall by 30% in five years. The more traceable and auditable nature of electronic money means its rising usage will potentially help to drive out bribes and facilitation payments.
  5. Ethical and transparent businesses will become the new norm: Corporate information and activities are heading irreversibly towards greater public transparency and visibility. With more scrutiny from social media and NGOs, businesses are finding that ever higher levels of openness are being demanded by the public and forced by regulation. 

These five drivers point to one underlying fact: that an approach to anti-bribery and anti-corruption based on ‘just complying’ with the relevant regulations by doing the minimum possible is no longer acceptable or sustainable.

Not all businesses will achieve this in five years. But those that succeed in doing so will be well-placed to win the battle for revenues, customers, talent and public trust. 

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