Managing safety, corruption and business integrity risk

How to operate with business integrity

View transcript for Episode 25 - How to operate with business integrity recording
Doing business with integrity means ensuring you operate responsibly, honestly and ethically.

The impact of not doing so includes mistrust, reputational damage, and even involvement in serious crime.

So it’s important to understand the risks and laws that surround bribery, corruption, human rights and modern slavery.

Let’s look at them in more detail.

The UK Bribery Act 2010 applies to all operations of a company in the UK. Even if offences are committed abroad by a non-British citizen or third parties acting on behalf of your company.

It’s also important to be aware of country specific laws too.

Human rights violations.

It’s every company’s duty to respect the human rights of its workers and those involved in the supply chain.

The global authority on this is the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The principles are develop a public commitment to respect human rights. Practice due diligence. Track effectiveness. Communicate what you’re doing. Establish a process to remedy anyone harmed.

Modern slavery.

Modern slavery is a type of human rights abuse and includes human trafficking, servitude, forced and child labour. The UK’s Slavery Act sets out rules for businesses operating in the UK.

Check gov.uk for guidance on all of these areas.

Most importantly, train your team and make sure your policies are clear.

What you’ll learn

  • where you can get guidance on corruption and human rights law
  • the importance of training your team
  • where to go to report bribery or corruption

What integrity means in practice

Doing business with integrity means making sure you conduct business responsibly, honestly, and ethically.

In most cases, you’ll face very few issues when trading overseas. But you need to understand the risks and laws that surround bribery, corruption, human rights, and modern slavery.

The results of not doing so can be far-ranging – from mistrust and reputational damage to involvement in serious crime.

Know the law and consult guidance

Corruption laws, in the UK and abroad

The UK Bribery Act 2010 applies to all operations of a company with a business in the UK, even if offences are committed outside the UK by a non-British national or a third party acting on behalf of the company. You can find guidance on the act on gov.uk.

You should also be aware of any anti-corruption laws in your overseas markets, including those with extra-territorial reach. For example, in the US you may be liable under the US Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA) for bribery carried out in any other country. Research these anti-corruption laws as and when you need to.

Human rights abuses

It’s every company’s duty to respect the human rights of its workers and those involved in its supply chain. As well as the obvious human impact, failure to do this can lead to serious damage to your reputation and loss of trust from your customers and business partners.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) are the global authority on business and human rights. The principles state that businesses should:

  • develop a public commitment to respect human rights and embed this in company culture
  • practice due diligence, assessing risks to human rights and taking action to decrease these
  • track the effectiveness of any measures
  • communicate what they’re doing to tackle human rights risks, internally and to the public
  • establish a process for providing remedy to anyone who is harmed, where the business caused or contributed to that harm

It’s your responsibility to understand what these principles mean in practice. You can find guidance on implementing the UNGPs on GOV.UK.

Modern slavery

Modern slavery is a type of human rights abuse, and includes human trafficking, slavery, servitude, forced or bonded labour and child labour. The UK’s Modern Slavery Act sets out extra rules for businesses operating in the UK with a turnover of over £36 million, relating specifically to their extended supply chains.

Read UK government guidance to help ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in your business or supply chains.

Train your team

Your employees are the first line of defence against corruption, and it’s the responsibility of everyone in the team to act with integrity when doing business. Clear policies and regular staff training can help your team to notice and report corrupt activity, and can also support a defence against being prosecuted.

Report bribery and corruption

If anyone in your business or associated agencies has been offered a bribe, you should immediately notify:

  • the UK embassy or consulate of the country you’re operating in
  • the local anti-corruption authority
  • the project donor, if you’re working on a donor-funded project

If a bribe has been paid to someone in your organisation, you should also immediately report it to the National Crime Agency and the Serious Fraud Office.

By self-reporting to external anti-corruption organisations and fully co-operating with investigations, you're much more likely to receive a better and swifter resolution. You can find more information on corporate self reporting in the UK from the Serious Fraud Office.

Get advice and support from the UK embassy or consulate trade teams in the markets you're dealing in, from the start. It’s indispensable in understanding what to look out for and how to deal with potential risks.

International trade adviser

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