To help everyone in the organization – and wider value chain – stay focused on the goal of conducting business in a compliant yet effective manner, the root of every corporate policy should be what we have dubbed the Integrity Agenda. This branches out into every area of the organization and its broader business ecosystem – affecting each decision made by every manager and employee.
Ultimately, an Integrity Agenda acts as a framework for success. It enables organizations to stay true to their missions, respect laws, and ethical norms, and foster public trust in the free enterprise system.
To develop their own Integrity Agenda, organizations should focus their efforts on assessing the governance, corporate culture, and controls from an integrity perspective, and leverage new technologies to provide better insights and measurement. A well-designed Agenda, underpinned by a Digital Integrity Strategy, will focus on four key areas:
- Governance – Develop an integrity program structure, embedding standards of behavior for employees and third parties acting on the organization’s behalf.
- Corporate culture – Strengthen the culture that guides day-to-day ways of working and taking decisions, focusing on managing the risks, pressures, and beliefs that influence employee decisions.
- Controls – Identify the root causes of integrity failures and improve related policies, procedures, and processes.
- Data analytics – Embed analytics in digital compliance tools to reveal data-based insight on emerging risks and illegal and unethical conduct, and track improvement in behavior.
By integrating both compliance and integrity into a coherent framework, organizations can unlock a range of competitive advantages. Developing this into a culture and reputation built around integrity, organizations can avoid litigation, win business and partnerships, secure capital and become more attractive for new hires.
In some instances, effective integrity governance programs are increasingly essential. Argentina and Brazil are just two countries with laws in place that determine which companies can engage in public works and compete for public contracts, based on their internal integrity oversight.
Fear of getting caught is a good motivator for tackling corruption. But if a culture of integrity is embedded deep within organizational structures, then the benefits of being a truly fair and transparent player are bigger still.