In the framework of the International Anti-Corruption Day 2020, the Alliance for Integrity, together with its partners Transparency Germany, the German Institute for Compliance (DICO) e.V. and the German Chapter of the UN Global Compact Network (DGCN) hosted a three-part event series on the overarching topic of corporate responsibility.
The first session focused on corruption prevention in the private sector and discussed current tools and tips for implementing an effective compliance management system. Setting the tone for the event series, representatives from DGCN, DICO e.V. and the Alliance for Integrity presented the key topics covered in the second edition of the German publication “Corruption Prevention - A Guide for Companies”, including business partner compliance, risk factors and whistleblowing. The publication is a practical toolkit for companies in the field of anti-corruption and aims at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their compliance efforts. In the following panel discussion, speakers from the private and public sectors as well as civil society addressed issues related to new compliance trends and shared their views on how companies, especially SMEs, can cope with them. An important point raised was the need to engage in Collective Action initiatives, which is increasingly seen as an important risk mitigation measure and a vital part of compliance programmes.
Following on from the results of the first session, the second panel focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the draft Due Diligence in Supply Chains Law, known as “Sorgfaltspflichtengesetz” or “Lieferkettengesetz” in Germany. As a basis for discussion, Dr Andreas Jung, representing the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, outlined the main points of the Ministry's new draft law. The panelists discussed how the cooperation between companies and supervisory institutions for internal audits will work in practice and how to ensure that incentives are created for companies of all sizes.
One of the main concerns that came up among the participants was the lack of transparency about what the law entails, and which key points will be considered. Laura Curtze, Director for Human Rights & Labour Standards at DGCN, summarises the cornerstones of the draft law in the recently published Compliance Bulletin 20.
The final event on due diligence took place on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day. Susanne Friedrich, Director of the Alliance for Integrity, opened the session and highlighted the importance of the topic for the private sector. “Companies can benefit from synergies when they reconcile human rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption,” she stated. Based on the fact that a new law on human rights due diligence is being discussed in Germany and at the EU level, representatives from the private sector, civil society and academia shared their concerns and comments regarding the law and the challenges that the implementation of mandatory human rights (and possibly also environmental) due diligence may bring. They all agreed that it is important to put in place a smart mix of factors, ranging from regulation to voluntary Collective Action. It became clear that companies need to play an active role, regardless of the law.
The three-part event series on corporate responsibility covered different but highly relevant topics in the fight against corruption. In summary, there is a need for coordination between relevant stakeholders of all sectors to address systemic problems such as corruption, human rights violations or environmental degradation, which is in line with the Collective Action approach that the Alliance for Integrity follows in all its activities.
Author: Beatriz Osorio Garabosky