Anti-Corruption as Strategic CSR
FSG Social Impact Advisors | November 5, 2009
This paper is a call to action for business to embrace anti-corruption as strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR)—moving beyond risk mitigation toward proactively solving social problems critical to the business. With a particular focus on the developing world, it suggests that corporations can build on existing models for compliance and collective action and take a greater leadership role in the broader anti-corruption effort. Just as top corporations have staked out proactive positions on other social issues, such as child labor and the environment, it's time for anti-corruption to become part of companies CSR missions.
We envision a world in which corporations become leaders in fighting corruption. To reach that goal, we recommend four complementary approaches:
1. Ensure compliance. Corporations should continue to invest significantly in ethics and compliance programs to maintain or increase their level of integrity throughout all divisions and countries.
2. Strengthen collective action. Efforts need to shift from broad-based, diffuse declarations to more outcome-oriented pacts that can create effective incentives for members to change behavior.
3. Engage demand-side forces. While the typical focus of corporate anti-corruption work is on the "supply side" of corruption (the private sector), corporations should expand their efforts to influence the “demand side” (the public sector).
4. Leverage corporate assets. Corporations possess unique and powerful strengths in the fight against corruption, including communications power from the corporate brand, economic leverage, technical expertise, and cash resources for grantmaking.
Corporations are currently not organized to execute swiftly on the recommendations in this paper. A proactive, external-facing approach to fighting corruption has no natural home within a typical corporate structure, as ethics departments are usually staffed with compliance-focused lawyers and most CSR departments do not include anti-corruption work as a priority. To achieve success in the fight against corruption, corporations need to adjust their mindset to include a broader anti-corruption agenda and align and integrate resources and staff for effective execution.
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