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In this article, we’ll explain why ISO37001 is important in protecting your organisation from bribery and corruption by creating systems that avoid malpractice.

The Origins of Quality Management for Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption

In 1987 the ISO9001 Quality Management System was introduced. It successfully addressed disparate attitudes in the quality of management and service. Thirty years on business ethics is on the same trajectory driven by a growing global intolerance of bribery and corruption.

Whilst some would see any form of compliance as a restraint on a business – try driving a car in a country where there are limited or no rules of the road or picking up a hairdryer only to be electrocuted due to poor standards of manufacture!

Global Exposure for Organisations

In the age of global connectivity, accelerated through the explosion of smart digital devices, people can easily report and record malfeasance by public and private organisations. Whistle blowing (disclosure) is an increasingly common practice. New anti-bribery legislation which includes corporate liability offences is not confined to the US and the UK today; more recently France, Bermuda, South Korea, Kenya, Vietnam and many others too.

Why? Because governments recognise the cancer of corruption; the damage to civil society and that governments and their leaders can be toppled. Companies have woken up to the fact that bribery is inefficient, dangerous, costly if convicted and can terminally damage the careers of individuals and corporate reputation – it adversely affects the bottom line.

Standards have significantly improved the quality of companies and their products. They have led to harmonisation and recognition of common processes and set benchmarks which have cross border recognition.

ISO37001 – a Global Quality Standard

With the increased demand by banks and others for transparency to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, the emergence of a new global anti-bribery standard is timely in providing an internationally recognised benchmark of an organisation’s anti-bribery management. Simply handing over a copy of the corporate code of ethics will not do it today. It’s people that bribe not sheets of paper!

The ISO37001 anti-bribery management system adds value to an organisation, differentiating it from its competitors and helping to maintain a leadership position. It creates a system of positive progress – not one of compliance or legal restraint that dampens honest business endeavour. Achievement of the ISO37001 standard demonstrates to customers, suppliers, public and private sector, that an organisation can be trusted and will compete on a level ethical playing field for the benefit of all stakeholders.

It is no surprise therefore that the governments of Singapore and Peru are seeking to introduce ISO37001 into their national companies and in public procurement. Microsoft has announced it will adopt the standard and it is under consideration by Walmart; these are but a few of the many early adopters which aspire to gain first mover advantage. Companies should anticipate that those certified to ISO37001 will be at an advantage in tenders, both private and public. They have worked it out that they will enhance their bottom line, just as those 1.3 million organisations have done certifying to ISO9001 over the past 30 years.

With ISO37001’s emphasis on the business oriented nuts, bolts and benefits of fighting bribery, it provides creative opportunities for companies to leverage sunk FCPA [and other] anti-corruption program costs and existing program activities – and with certification as a tangible, positive and marketable result”.
MacMurray & Lazzarini – FCPA Blog May 2017