Addressing corruption

Database of major business risks

No company is immune to the risks of corruption! Operating in a competitive environment where not everybody plays fair, or facing illicit requests from corrupt public officials are just two real world examples that companies experience every day. Despite significant progress over the last decade, including law enforcement, corruption is still a major issue for companies doing business.
In addressing these risks, the expectation towards companies are clear. First, companies must prohibit corruption in its various forms, including bribery. Second, a company policy to counter corruption must be backed by an anti-corruption ethics & compliance programme. Such programmes turn words into actions and greatly increase a company’s chances of avoiding these risks. They do not have to be expensive or burdensome. But to be effective, they must take account of key principles, including

  • Understand the risks: Corruption no longer manifest itself as a briefcase stuffed in cash, in return for winning a deal. It can be far more subtle. And it is influenced by factors such as a company’s business model, location and sector. As a result, there is no “one size fits all” approach. Countering corruption requires a tailored, risk-based approach.
  • Place employees at the centre: A company cannot act on its own. When opportunities for corruption presents themselves, it is employees who must resist. They must be able to recognize corruption, and be motivated and capable to avoid it.
  • Face the reality: Despite their best efforts, companies may still operate in high-risk environments for doing business legally. Front-line employees may feel that anti-corruption policies issued by remote corporate headquarters are inappropriate or unrealistic, when they are trying to win contracts or achieve timely receipt of goods through customs. Leaving employees to resolve such dilemmas on their own could easily lead to undesirable consequences.

Increasing employees’ awareness, commitment and capability is a key task for those in charge of anti-corruption programmes.
This database is intended to support awareness raising and training endeavours by listing the major risks companies may face. Business risks do not apply equally across companies. Where risks are identified, it is recommended that companies engage in dialogue with their employees, discussing the practical challenges and potential solutions within their own context. In this way, the risks will become real, rather than policy on paper which employees can more easily ignore, or argue does not apply to them.
For this, each business risk is displayed in a clear, formal structure. Each includes an introduction, practical approaches and relevant issues for training, and suggestions for continued reading.


The database will be a living document, with the facility to add new business risks over time. Please do nominate such risks! This database includes free, high-quality information that is available to companies seeking to counter corruption, including

  • “Anti-Corruption Ethics and Compliance Programme for Business: A Practical Guide” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes,
  • “How To Bribe – A Typology Of Bribe-Paying And How To Stop It” by Transparency International UK,
  • “RESIST - Resisting Extortion and Solicitation in International Transactions” by United Nations Global Compact / World Economic Forum / International Chamber of Commerce / Transparency International.