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Hot topic: Corporate corruption, part two

What is HR’s role in preventing corruption?

Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort has been indicted over allegations of money laundering, which is likely to be the first step in a long investigation. What can HR professionals do if they fear their organisation may be part of corrupt practices?

Keely Rushmore, senior associate at SA Law, says:

"HR professionals can play a crucial role in preventing workplace corruption. They are best placed to ensure that rigorous policies and procedures are implemented that set out clear expectations and standards of conduct, but that also provide a channel for concerns to be raised and investigated fairly and safely.

"Just as important, however, is fostering a culture of openness and integrity. Securing buy-in from all levels, especially senior figures within the business, is key in this regard. Words on paper mean nothing if the actions of the board and other key individuals do not mirror them. Training is a key component of this, another area where HR has influence.

"If an HR professional suspects corruption then it is usually best to report it internally, using the appropriate whistleblowing procedures. There may be occasions when it is necessary to report a matter externally, but this should always be a last resort and ideally taken after seeking advice."

Simon Webley, research director at the Institute of Business Ethics, says:

"HR professionals play a central role in supporting a workplace culture where the motivation for ‘doing the right thing’ is because it’s the right thing to do.

"They have unique access to people throughout their career – from induction training to exit interviews. They should support ethical practice as one of the means of preventing corruption.

"As well as specific activities like anti-bribery training, and including anti-bribery in performance management matrices, they also play an active role in the procedure for dealing with whistleblowing reports from employees, which are an excellent early indicator of illegal and unethical practices that are occurring.

"If HRDs suspect corruption, or indeed any unethical behaviour, their response should be to use the organisation’s speak-up process in the first instance to expose the issue."

Read the first part of this Hot Topic