Home – Can companies use ISO 37001 to help eradicate poverty?

Can companies use ISO 37001 to help eradicate poverty?

Posted on 10-17-2018 by Lisa Thompson

 Twenty-five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 17th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty . In marking the anniversary, the UN has stated that … “all people must come together to end poverty and discrimination in order to build a sustainable future in which the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  What role do companies play in ending poverty?  Many organizations pursue Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives  that help to address poverty. Keeping forced labor out of supply chains, for example, penalizes unscrupulous actors who keep workers impoverished by withholding earnings for recruitment fees or overcharging for housing. But having a robust anti-bribery and corruption compliance program is also critical. Why? 

World Bank calls corruption a barrier to eradicating poverty

The estimated global cost of corruption falls between $1.5 to $2 trillion. What’s more, countries with the highest poverty rates also face the highest corruption risk. This connection between corruption and poverty is highlighted in the World Bank’s Combating Corruption Brief, which states, “The World Bank Group considers corruption a major challenge to its twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the poorest 40 percent of people in developing countries.” The organization cites several links:

  • Studies show that people in poverty bear a disproportionate burden for corruption. A higher percent of their income goes towards bribes than their high-income counterparts.
  • Corruption breeds mistrust in governments, inequality and discontent, which leads to disenfranchisement, conflict and violent extremism. 
  • Investment declines and growth stagnates in the face of corruption, impeding corresponding financing for healthcare, education and infrastructure improvements that could help people rise out of poverty.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, former chairman of Microsoft India Ravi Venkatesan also notes the business value of mitigating corruption risk, “Business needs to play a more powerful role in supporting responsible practices throughout every aspect of their operations. After all, those that find themselves embroiled in bribery scandals, for example, face a host of consequences, including business disruption, steep financial and legal costs, and harm to their brand and reputation.” Establishing a solid anti-bribery and corruption compliance program, enables companies to de-fund the unethical practices that contribute to poverty, while also addressing corporate regulatory, financial and reputational risks.

How can the ISO 37001 anti-bribery framework help?

Certification to an anti-bribery standard like ISO 37001 can benefit companies by validating a company’s internal processes against best practices. Venkatesan and co-author Leslie Benton, VP of the Center for Responsible Enterprise And Trade (CREATE.org) and member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the ISO 37001 development committee, say, “The standard offers companies a structure for setting up or benchmarking an effective anti-bribery program aligned with its own risk profile, and building a culture that values ethical behavior.” ISO 37001 certification helps by:

  • Defining the responsibilities of top management and board members in mitigating bribery risk
  • Creating a company-wide culture focused on transparency and ethical business practices
  • Establishing a consistence process that can be applied across the entire corporate hierarchy
  • Standardizing how a company measures the effectiveness of its anti-bribery and corruption compliance efforts and those by critical third-party suppliers, partners and agents
  • Delivering a competitive advantage by demonstrating CSR commitments to win new business, engage investors or boost brand reputation among consumers

But in addition to realizing these benefits, adopting a robust anti-bribery and corruption compliance program empowers companies to make a difference in eradicating global poverty—and that’s what today is all about.

Next steps to take

  1. Watch our exclusive Q&A with anti-corruption lawyer and ISO 37001 expert Jean Pierre Mean and download our PDF outline the certification standard.
  2. Check out our proactive risk monitoring solution, LexisNexis Entity Insight. 
  3. Share this blog on LinkedIn to keep the conversation going.

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