International - Written by on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 1:28 - 0 Comments

Don’t mention the ‘war’? Scotching the myth that saying the ‘b’ word will freak out employees in high risk markets

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“We have to treat the local employees with care. They will be offended if we start talking about bribery and asking questions.  Some may leave.”

“We have to be careful that we don’t kill the business.”

We routinely hear these arguments, and more like them, often from very senior management, in the context of wishing to speak to local employees in high risk markets when conducting risk assessments.

Concerns include that there is local cultural sensitivity.  If bribery is mentioned, it is said, the employees will feel like they are being treated like criminals by some heavy handed Western types.

In our experience these concerns are unfounded.

Employees welcome the opportunity to speak about the bribery issue and open up about local practices.

They often have good suggestions about ways to improve local systems and controls to prevent bribery.

The sight of people from Head Office taking the trouble to visit the local office with strangers in tow asking lots of questions underscores the importance the business attaches to anti-bribery.  It sends a very clear message to those in the organisation who might seek to apply unfair pressure on others to engage in questionable practices.

A clear directive that bribes will not be paid is likewise well received.  Employees like to know that they will not be sacked for losing a sale as a result of not bending to improper requests and demands.

We usually find positive feedback is received from the very people it was feared would take offence.

With a good product or service lost sales are not the catastrophic end of the world scenario forecast.

In fact, businesses can find that they can actually win *more* business from nervous counterparties who are delighted they can deal with a third party they can categorise as low risk from an ABC standpoint in a high risk market.

And for the very tiny minority (in our experience) who don’t like it – you don’t want to employ them anyway.

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