Since its creation in 2016, the ISO 37001 certification is fast becoming a reference in anti-corruption measures around the world. Not only do the companies that pursue the certification shore up their industries and territories against criminal and political misconduct, they themselves benefit from an ethical boost to their business as a result of the confidence their clients can place in them.
According to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the annual cost of corruption is $3.6 trillion: a result of bribes, stolen money, tax evasion, and other destructive bad practices.
“Tax evasion, money laundering and other illicit flows divert much-needed resources from schools, hospitals and essential infrastructure; funds that are essential to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
“[The] poor and vulnerable suffer disproportionately” and “impunity compounds the problem,” he said.
ISO 37001 certification
Corruption is present at every level of society, both in the political and the private spheres. The realms where these two poles meet, however, are particularly high-risk.
The anti-bribery management systems standard is a framework developed by the International Standardization Organization (ISO) aimed at helping companies to establish effective systems to deal with issues of corruption, such as bribery.
ISO is an impartial, international organisation, that specialises in creating universal standards. In following the same consistent rules, no matter the geography or the client, companies become more effective at combatting bribery and promoting an ethical global business culture.
Not only can an effective anti-bribery system improve the practices of those in the surrounding industry, it contributes to a better economy for the citizens of the country of operation.
There is evidence to suggest that companies with good corporate social responsibility practices such as an anti-bribery policy benefit from an improvement in business as others want to work with and for them. This competitive edge also comes with a wider customer-base – incentivised to pay premium prices – improvements in employee motivation, and greater investor interest.
Companies who have chosen to obtain ISO anti-bribery certification
Iberdrola, the electric utilities heavy-weight, became the first Spanish company to achieve ISO anti-bribery certification in 2017. The company stated that the standard certification “once again shows Iberdrola’s commitment to international best practices in the fight against corruption and heralds the company as a leading light in this fight.”
The UK water industry company Anglian Water is a leader in its field. It has achieved a wide range of ISO certification, demonstrating a high standard of governance in an industry with a reputation for compliance challenges.
“Anglian Water’s anti-bribery strategy is supported by the ISO 37001 Anti Bribery Management System, with processes aligned with the Integrated Management System (IMS) framework. This system, externally certificated by Lloyds Register of Quality Assurance (LRQA), helps to ensure processes and controls are effective in ensuring ongoing compliance with anti-bribery legislation,” the company stated in its 2018 annual report.
Morocco’s central bank, Bank al-Maghrib, just competed a two-year process at the end of 2019 to achieve the exacting standards set out in ISO 37001. Bank governor, Abdellatif Jouahri, spoke of the institution’s strong commitment against corruption. He said that the bank has “an anti-corruption policy advocating zero tolerance for all forms of corruption.”
Oberthur Fiduciaire, the French security printing powerhouse and its CEO Thomas Savare, has spoken at length on the necessity of ISO anti-bribery certification in the industry and how it demonstrates commitment to ethical standards.
“Recent and unfortunate examples have reminded everyone that it is not enough to simply demand quality from the manufacturer of the finished product. It is also necessary for the manufacturer to be able to provide guarantees of safety and quality throughout the entire supply chain,” Savare said.
The Japanese general trading company Sojitz has recently made efforts to stand out from its domestic and international rivals by acquiring ISO anti-bribery accreditation.
“Sojitz’s continued efforts to operate and maintain a rigorous anti-bribery management system have been objectively recognized, which has led Sojitz to becoming the first Japanese company to acquire ISO 37001 certification,” the company said.
Dutch logistics company Apex Shipping also recently announced its achievement of the ISO 37001 anti-bribery management system. In a statement the company explained the advantages of this for its clients:
In addition to eliminating bribery and corruption within our organization, Apex Shipping Services will do business only with third-party companies who share our vision. ABMS Certification protects you from risks associated with incompetence and corruption such as lost or damaged cargo and overpriced services.
Benefits for business
These are just some of the leaders in their various industries shoring up against corruption through the deployment of dependable counter-bribery frameworks. The ISO 37001 certification responds to the need to fight corruption and can also provide more business to those willing to deal seriously with what is an international problem.
Obviously, bribery, paying to free up shipments that are delayed mysteriously by foreign customs officials for instance – adds to operational costs. It is in the interest of businesses to stamp this out purely on these terms. However, there are also the less tangible realities that go along with it. Reputation is a crucial consideration for the modern business. Having a reputation for transparency and integrity has been shown to improve your bottom line.
Lynne Gray, director at commercial law firm Burness Paull, explained that a strong reputation is “important for attracting and retaining global business.”
Indeed, a report by ethiXbase states that the example of Singapore demonstrates that a reputation for fighting corruption can give a group a head start against their competition.
“Singapore business leaders understand the commercial value of clean and honest business dealings. This provides Singapore with a significant competitive advantage: it provides predictability and openness to investors,” the report explained.
When any business demonstrates to the relevant parties that it is at the forefront in the fight against corruption, great things can happen. Not only will it represent steps taken in the right direction within a particular industry, but the company itself will enjoy the reputational gains that might just give it the winning edge against its competition.