Bribery in the workplace

According to the Cambridge dictionary, bribery is “the act of offering someone money or something valuable to persuade them to do something for you.” We often hear this term used in many different scenarios, but we seldomly consider bribery in the workplace. Even though the definition states bribery as offering money or something valuable, it is not that simple. A bribe can also be gifts, money, property, privilege, or even a personal favor.

When we identify bribery in the workplace, it includes individuals who can not achieve their goals or business deals by conducting regular business. The individual may feel pressured to get things done quickly and believe using alternative means may speed things up. 

Bribery does not only affect the individual committing the crime, but it may affect the organisation too. The company may also be responsible if they have not implemented protocols or procedures to prevent bribery and corruption in the workplace. The policies and procedures need to align with the Bribery Act of 2010. It is not enough only to have the policies and procedures. They also need well communicated in all avenues of the company. The company is responsible for training the staff and ensuring they understand them thoroughly.

Bribery has many effects on the workplace. Even if an employee is on trial in a court of law, the company should do an internal investigation and implement disciplinary measures additional to whatever the legal verdict is. Even if the individual is not found guilty in court, it still affects the employees and the workplace in many ways. 

There are ways a company could implement policies and procedures to prevent bribery. Here are a few general rules the company could follow to combat bribery. 

Anti-corruption starts from the top. It is the responsibility of the board and senior management to lead by example. The board and senior management are practice and refine anti-bribery procedures and protocols. It creates an understanding of how they can design, implement and improve an anti-bribery programme. The programme included elements that balance with objectives, current incentive structures, and violations. 

The organisation can overcome bribery with clear organisational structures and planning. Employees should be aware of who is responsible for implementing the anti-bribery programme. The organization should assign the responsibilities to specific job roles. 

The programme should not discriminate against gender, nationalities, cultures, etc. The prgramme needs to manage Employee concerns. Controls need to be implemented and applied to transaction areas. Management and HR should consider all concerns regarding requirements and implications. A great way to do this is to consult with the employees or representatives to explain the controls and address any concerns. 

When combatting bribery in the workplace, advice and whistleblowing channels should be available to all employees. These channels allow employees to seek information or report (in confidence) and behavior out of the norm. Human resources play a vital role in advising and escalating reports. 

When bribery is suspected, action needs to take place. Disciplinary action is required. The outcome is at the discretion of the company and the board, although it should set a tone ensuring it may reduce the chances of future employees committing the same offense. 

Overcoming bribery in the workplace is a company-wide responsibility. The board and senior management need to set the tone and ensure due diligence. All staff is responsible for identifying and notifying HR or management when bribery is suspected. Together a bribery-free workspace is possible. 

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