São Paulo, Brazil
In recent years, the Alliance for Integrity has supported more than 3,200 company representatives strengthen their compliance mechanisms and, ultimately, open up new business opportunities. An important part of the Alliance for Integrity’s training activities is the Integrity Journey, which has already taken place in Argentina, Brazil and India. The Integrity Journey is a mentoring programme specifically designed to train small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in corruption prevention. The Journey comprises ten stages, including a kick-off event, online seminars and a DEPE (De Empresas para Empresas – from Businesses to Businesses) corruption prevention training. Upon successful completion of the programme, participants are able to set up, implement and continuously monitor an effective compliance management system. The training programme lays the groundwork to prevent corruption effectively, providing the necessary knowledge, instruments and network. However, the Integrity Journey does not end after the final event, but rather starts. The critical point occurs when participants return to their companies and put the measures into practice. It is therefore worthwhile to visit the companies a few months after the end of the training programme and see what has been achieved since then.
A year and a half after the successful completion of the first Integrity Journey in Brazil, three of the participating companies shared their personal success stories with members of the ‘Peer-to-Peer Learning’ Working Group of the Alliance for Integrity. They talked about the development and implementation process of the integrity measures, challenges they had to overcome and how the change in the corporate culture towards more transparency and accountability has positively impacted their relationships with relevant stakeholders.
Jessica Souza, former Strategic Buyer at Ambar Tech, kicked things off by sharing her success story in front of the more than twenty compliance professionals present and experts who had joined online. Ambar Tech is a SME operating in the civil construction sector of Brazil. Before starting the Integrity Journey, the company had no mechanisms in place to manage compliance. “In the beginning, we had no idea where to start building the compliance management system. Getting a concrete guideline of which steps we have to follow was the biggest gain for us. Systematising and monitoring our compliance measures was extremely important for the further growth of our company, especially with regard to risk management”, Jessica stated. Having participated in the Integrity Journey has been instrumental in shaping the strategic vision of Ambar Tech. An important component of this strategy forms the new risk management system, which not only identifies short-term risks, but also analyses legal and social factors that could have long-term consequences for the company. “This innovative approach also resonates with our business opportunities. The established integrity and compliance measures improved our relationship with our business partners. We now have a very good reputation in the industry, which also makes us attractive to new clients,” concluded Jessica.
In the following session, Roseleila Vieira, Human Resources Manager at Cabelauto Brasil, shared her experiences of participating in the Integrity Journey. The company is active in the production of electrical cables and currently has 230 employees. “The Integrity Journey played a fundamental role in transforming the already existing Code of Conduct into a living document that is disseminated and put into practice by all our employees”, she highlighted. As best practice example, she suggested to organise weekly meetings aiming to actively involve employees and top management in the implementation process. During these meetings, new needs were identified and addressed to shape the company's compliance policies according to international standards, the specifics of the market and its organisational structure. This best practice also solved one of the company's biggest challenges: involving top management in implementing the compliance mechanisms. Having them present at the weekly meetings and leading the discussions sent a clear message to the staff.
André Bugarim, CEO of Parsec Engenharia, closed the small series. His family business is operating in the field of civil engineering and industrial assembly together with 40 employees. “We supply several large and multinational companies. They clearly expect us to meet the required integrity standards. The training programme was a good opportunity for us to work on our compliance mechanisms and thus not only maintain ongoing stakeholder relationships but also generate new business opportunities”, he explained. “We already had compliance processes in place before we joined the Integrity Journey, but they were not sufficiently applied. We were now able to simplify, implement and even outsource these processes. I recommend other companies to standardise compliance measures in order to be a reliable partner for third parties and to maintain a good reputation in the long term,” he further elaborated.
The exchange between the members of the Working Group and the participants of the Integrity Journey was considered very profitable on both sides. Developing integrity systems takes time and effort, which is why the results need to be measured and evaluated in the medium and long term. Similarly, it is extremely important for compliance officers of large companies to understand the needs and difficulties of SMEs in implementing an effective compliance management system. This understanding enables them to better address the needs of their supply chains and support them in increasing their integrity standards. In 2021, the Alliance for Integrity will launch a new edition of the Integrity Journey in Brazil, this time targeting SMEs and cooperatives from the agricultural sector. For more information, please visit our training page.
Author: Fernando Orn