Riddles in the Dark- tackling the Gollum of Corruption in China.
Corruption in China (and Asia) is a hot issue, receiving a lot of attention of the business community, the press and the Governments here and abroad. The OECD has urged its members to take stronger legal measures against corruption, and the US‘s FCPA and the UK Foreign Bribery Act are results of this. These anti-Corruption Laws on Corruption and embezzlement stated very clear what the wrong and right way of doing business is: but working in a culture that has trouble with seeing the difference between a good gift and a little corruption, companies can feel like they are doing riddles in the dark- how to solve the riddle, get out of the mountain and walk back to light?
What does the Darkness look like?
First of all, acknowledging that you have a tacky situation as a team of people in your company is a good start. A status quo way of thinking (Everybody does it- there is no alternative etc.) does not give a neutral point of view, but actually encourages people to stay riddled, and gives Managers and Directors the false perception of being able to say “I have the right not to know”. The recent The Dutch Rabobank Libor Scandal showcases this behavior nicely.
What does the Light look like?
Having a transparent way of doing business is the best proof doing honest business. But anyone working in China knows that there are business situations, especially tackling local service bureaus who ‘help out’ with permits and subsidies that lack light and there is some room for improvement…
What does getting out of the Mountain of Corruption look like?
Moving from the Grey Area tackling the Gollum of Corruption is a hard one, I have talked to companies who face the risk of prosecution and fines because they want to end this. And there is no one way getting out. Some measures that help are:
-Opening up to headquarters about the problem, whistle blower system in place.
-Starting a transparency campaign: from the top to all the employees, suppliers and subcontractors.
-Making a gift receiving score card for every region with safety codes (Siemens).
-Regular (2 years max) overturn for employees who work in risk areas.
If you can ask yourself: I am getting more transparent? I am able to say I am responsible for this? Do I want to improve? You are asking yourself the right questions… Only those who say: these things will never change will make sure that corruption will stay!