Bribery or corruption scandals can severely damage a company and can have a tremendous impact on its reputation as well as its financials. Scandals can influence the company’s relation with its clients, employees and possible third parties.
Although corruption risks are generally low and do not form a significant obstacle to doing business in Belgium, it doesn’t mean that our country is corruption-free. According to the European Anti-Corruption Report, more can be done in regards to anti-bribery and anti-corruption frameworks. In addition, organizations are still exposed to risks associated with corruption and bribery via their international operations and third parties. A robust and mature anti-bribery management system is and will remain a must for companies large and small.
ISO Standard tackles bribery and corruption
The standard ISO 37001 “Anti-bribery management systems” addresses and mitigates bribery risk in both the public and the private sector, covering local and international operations. It is designed to help organizations prevent, detect and respond to bribery. The standard unifies leading regulators’ existing requirements on anti-bribery management systems and allows organizations to adapt the standard to meet their unique needs. Any organization, regardless of size, sector or jurisdiction can certify its anti-bribery management system to this internationally recognized standard.
Why implement the anti-bribery standard?
Besides helping you to minimize the risk of bribery and the financial loss it causes, the benefits that certified organizations reap from ISO 37001 include:
- Assurance of the organization’s commitment to conducting business in an ethical and transparent manner towards stakeholders (e.g. multinational business partners, clients and society).
- Compliance with the ISO standard enhances your market reputation and credibility and serves as a valuable asset when it comes to differentiating your company from your competitors.
- Certification can be a potential mitigating factor towards competent authorities in the event of litigation, showing that an organization has taken appropriate measures to prevent bribery.
To enjoy the benefits of certification, organizations must meet specific requirements set out by the standard. These requirements range from demonstrating a verifiable commitment to combatting bribery with top management playing an active role to regular audits assessing the performance of the anti-bribery management system.
Ask for professional support
Depending on many factors including the maturity of an organization’s anti-bribery management system or the complexity of its operations, preparing for and implementing the ISO 37001 certification is demanding, both in terms of time and qualified resources.
External specialists with compliance and project management expertise are an asset at any stage of the anti-bribery management process: from designing anti-bribery controls, assessing readiness for certification or preparing for the standard’s first periodic external audit.
KPMG has developed the ISO37001 Quick Scan which includes a detailed documentation review and analysis as well as the conducting of interviews to challenge the awareness, culture and tone at the top. The evaluation includes aspects such as:
- involvement of top management;
- design of the management system;
- existence of a documented anti-bribery policy;
- the effectiveness and efficiency of monitoring the anti-bribery management system.
Based on the aforementioned checks, a comprehensive and clear overview is provided on the maturity level within the organization.
Even organizations who decide not to seek certification themselves may find the standard valuable as a basis for evaluating and improving their existing anti-bribery management system, or when evaluating the anti-bribery management systems of current and potential business partners.
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