Sorry about the sporting analogy, but as it’s raining heavily at the moment, I immediately thought of cricket.
I spoke at a seminar at the Publishers’ Association recently, on the subject of the new Bribery Act. As always with Publishers, there was lively discussion both during and after the session, and some forthright expression of opinions.
The session was held under Chatham House Rules and I don’t intend to go into any detail about what was said, but I came away from the meeting mulling over something in my mind. Businesses (and this goes far beyond one particular industry) in the UK and many other countries are being forced, by Government legislation and pressure from various NGOs, to adopt a pro-active stance against Bribery and Corruption. Nothing wrong with that at all, but…….
It’s a common complaint in such circumstances that there is no longer a level playing field. Companies adopting best practice are competing with commercial rivals who may operate in a far less regulated environment and who – let us say – may not have the same scruples. Governments and NGOs appear to be powerless to do anything about this, beyond saying how beastly and unfair it all is. The result, I fear, is that many companies pull out of operating in “high risk” markets, leaving the field open for their less scrupulous competitors, which sounds – to extend the sporting analogy – like a bit of an own goal to me.
I don’t have a miracle solution to this problem (if I did, I would probably be dictating this blog to my PA on the deck of a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean) but if major governments and NGOs are serious about enlisting the support of Industry in their war against corruption, Something Has To Be Done.