The Important Role Women Can Play in Fighting Corruption in the Supply Chain

30 June 2020

Blog by Danielle Cannata

Delivering more ethical and inclusive growth necessitates empowering women, a key objective of the Saudi B20 Presidency. To help effectuate this, the B20 Saudi Arabia Integrity & Compliance Taskforce launched an important project designed to empower women to resist solicitation and become part of the solution to corruption in global supply chains.

While businesses across the globe strive to meet high standards of ethics and integrity, an unfortunate reality is that corruption still exists in all corners of the world and in all industries. Curtailing corruption globally is of paramount importance to creating economic growth. Currently, corruption costs developing countries approximately US$1.26 trillion annually, with global economic losses three times that amount (1). Corruption is an obstacle to eliminating poverty and hunger, developing education and infrastructure systems, and improving people’s quality of life.

The inherent complexity and interconnection of global supply chains make them especially vulnerable to corruption. Studies have shown women in certain areas of the world face disproportionately high levels of corruption in their access to and involvement with the supply chain compared to men. Whether a consequence of sexism, gender inequality, or any of a myriad of other factors, (2) this is problematic as it has an impact on the over 190 million women (3) working in global supply chains. This trend continues outside of business as well, where women are also more likely to encounter corruption in their role as care givers – navigating challenging environments in education systems and medical settings (4).

COVID-19 has only exacerbated the challenges women face. As companies temporarily close or go out of business while the demand for critical products continues, new suppliers must be secured in very short timeframes, making supply chains ripe for corruption.

From the perspective of the B20 Saudi Arabia Integrity & Compliance Taskforce, while women are disproportionately impacted by corruption, they are also uniquely positioned to be an essential part of the solution.

To help accelerate this response, the Integrity & Compliance Taskforce is establishing a training curriculum specifically to provide women with the necessary tools to fight corruption while working in and with complex supply chains. This type of anti-corruption training aims to empower women to resist solicitation, uphold integrity and be part of the solution to this international problem. Members of the B20 are also working to establish a mentorship program over the coming months as part of these efforts in which women in member companies will act as mentors to women in SMEs and female entrepreneurs in supply chains, ensuring lessons learned are shared at all business levels.

Our goal is to officially unveil our training program during the B20 Summit in October so that our B20 member companies begin using these materials in their own compliance programs and capacity building efforts in their global supply chains.

This is one of many ways the B20 Saudi Arabia hopes to create a tangible, lasting legacy. Educating and empowering women to oppose corruption will benefit companies, their entire supply chains and society as a whole for years to come.

Danielle Cannata is a Co-Chair of the Integrity & Compliance Taskforce at B20 Saudi Arabia and Senior Counsel within SABIC Legal Affairs.

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