More anti-graft steps needed to re­gain trust

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - ByWUYIYAO in Shang­hai wuyiyao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Though Chi­nese com­pa­nies have strength­ened their an­tifraud and anti-cor­rup­tion poli­cies af­ter the na­tion­wide anti­graft cam­paign started in 2013, they still need to do a lot more to re­gain their em­ploy­ees’ trust, a newre­port said on Wed­nes­day.

The study, con­ducted by global con­sul­tancy firm Ernst & Young, high­lighted the need for com­pa­nies to plug the loop­holes in pol­icy en­act­ment and en­force­ment. EY said its find­ings are based on re­sponses from 1,508 com­pa­nies across Asia, in­clud­ing 250 from the Chi­nese main­land.

It found that com­pa­nies now have a much higher per­cep­tion about com­pli­ance than be­fore, with the need for stricter rules to curb un­eth­i­cal be­hav­ior like fraud and cor­rup­tion. In China, about 66 per­cent of re­spon­dents said their com­pa­nies had been in­flu­enced by the on­go­ing anti-graft cam­paign.

The anti-graft ac­tions have prompted en­ter­prises, be they multi­na­tion­als, public com­pa­nies or pri­vate sec­tor ones, to re­think their anti-bribery and anti-cor­rup­tion strate­gies, in­clud­ing ex­tend­ing train­ing and us­ing more proac­tive tools to pre­vent un­eth­i­cal be­hav­ior, said Em­manuel Vig­nal, leader ofChina op­er­a­tions with fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion & dis­pute ser­vices at EY.

Fraud and cor­rup­tion pre­ven­tion is no longer just a legal and com­pli­ance is­sue, but some­thing that af­fects re­cruit­ment, tal­ent re­ten­tion and busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity, said Vig­nal.

Em­ploy­ees have at­tached more im­por­tance to their em­ploy­ers’ right­eous­ness, as more than two-thirds of the re­spon­dents from the Chi­nese main­land said their will­ing­ness to work­may be re­duced if the em­ploy­ers are in­volved in bribery and cor­rup­tion.

Sis­ley Wong, a 36-year-old mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer with a food com­pany in Shang­hai, said: “It is clear that the anti-graft cam­paign will be a long one, and the checks, both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal, may ex­pand to ev­ery sec­tor. We have seen cases in which em­ploy­ees were sacked af­ter busi­nesses saw their per­for­mance and rep­u­ta­tion nose­div­ing due to cor­rup­tion. So work­ing for a com­pany that is not clean enough is ac­tu­ally quite risky.”

En­force­ment of poli­cies, how­ever, needs to be much stronger as many re­spon­dents felt that due to the slow eco­nomic growth, de­ci­sion-mak­ers at some com­pa­nies may re­sort to bribery and other un­eth­i­cal mea­sures to boost busi­ness.

About 48 per­cent of re­spon­dents in the Chi­nese main­land said some of their col­leagues who car­ried out un­eth­i­cal prac­tices had been pro­moted, in­stead of be­ing pun­ished. Nearly half of the re­spon­dents said that their com­pa­nies’ ex­ist­ing anti-bribery and an­ti­cor­rup­tion poli­cies are not up to the mark.

Whistle­blow­ers also had con­cerns over in­suf­fi­cient legal pro­tec­tion and lack of con­fi­den­tial­ity when con­sid­er­ing re­port­ing un­eth­i­cal be­hav­ior to reg­u­la­tors, and some en­ter­prises even do not have an in­ter­nal whistle­blower hot­line to han­dle the is­sues.

EY’s re­search found that the num­ber of re­spon­dents who were pre­pared to use such a hot­line had de­creased sig­nif­i­cantly from 81 per­cent in 2013 to 52 per­cent in 2015.

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