Responsible Business Conduct in the 21st Century – Integrating Agendas for Greater Impact

29 June 2020

A conversation from the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative’s (PACI) Biannual Community Meeting

On 18 June, B20 Saudi Arabia’s Integrity & Compliance Taskforce Chair Mathad Al-Ajmi spoke at the World Economic Forum’s PACI Biannual Community Meeting to discuss how business integrity topics beyond anti-corruption can be better integrated on a policy level. The following Q&A stems from Mr. Al-Ajmi’s discussion.

What are the key recommendations the Integrity & Compliance Taskforce has put forward?

B20 Saudi Arabia’s Integrity & Compliance Taskforce aims to advance the global anti-corruption agenda by identifying causes of corruption and recommending solutions for good governance that can further spur economic and social development. We have identified three key areas of focus to drive a more integrated anti-corruption area.

First, we are focusing on promoting national anti-corruption plans that foster both a culture of high integrity and more collaboration between the public and private sectors, with an aim to enhance transparency between the two.

Secondly, we are looking at ways to adopt emerging technologies that allow for information sharing and tracking. This includes looking at Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and others to increase transparency. As we’ve seen with the coronavirus pandemic, sharing real-time data has been critical to responding to the impact of the disease and also for establishing reopening plans.

Lastly, we are recommending ways to improve public procurement practices to be more efficient while adopting the best of standards in the purchase of goods and services. Public procurement constitutes the largest marketplace in developing and developed economies, accounting for 20% of the global GDP. Given that the cost of public procurement activities is borne by all citizens, governments are expected to ensure that this spending is carried out both efficiently and by following high standards of conduct in order to achieve delivery of quality services, while safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders.

What is the role of technology in driving an integrated approach to anti-corruption?

It goes without saying that technology is becoming more important than ever. It plays a critical role in combatting corruption. According to a recent survey of 3000 managers in compliance-related roles, 97% believe that technology can significantly help with bribery, corruption and other financial crime prevention (1). As technology continues to rapidly evolve and transform the public and private sectors, it is vital that businesses invest in and leverage new technologies designed to facilitate detection, investigation and reporting of corruption. Such technologies will serve to promote transparency and accountability within both the public and private sectors, as well as to mitigate third-party related corruption risks through reducing systemic information asymmetries, enabling greater collaboration among stakeholders and reducing administrative processes and manual overrides of automated procedures.

And this is a critical theme for our Integrity & Compliance Taskforce, which is building on the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2019-2021. We believe emerging technologies play a role in promoting public and private sector integrity as they can help reduce opportunities for corruption, enhance effectiveness and efficiency in the public and private sector, strengthen transparency and increase public trust.

How can collective action help moving forward?

At B20 Saudi Arabia, we place a lot of emphasis on “Action Through Collaboration”. Collaboration fosters efficiency, creativity and inclusivity in the development of policies that promote the anti-corruption agenda. We believe businesses must bring together the international community, both across business and with governments as a critical way to effectively combat corruption, not only to emerge stronger from the current crisis, but prepare for future ones while we build long term solutions. As business leaders of some of the world’s largest corporations, we have the obligation to lead the way and create an environment where people, communities and business can thrive.

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