Accountability, Integrity and Transparency in Times of Crisis

In our age of hyper-transparency, the dissemination of credible information and public trust in the ethical leadership of businesses and governments is more important than ever. This is especially true as we grapple with one the greatest global crises of our lifetime. Business and Governments are being called upon to build trust through communications and policies that are consistent, inclusive and transparent.

There is no better time for us to invoke the spirit of the Tenth Principle of the United Nations Global Compact against corruption and Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. This UN Global Compact Academy session discusses how business and governments can ensure greater accountability, integrity and transparency in their response and recovery efforts, and how these efforts build resilience and create a better world.

Speakers Include:

  • John Brandolino, Director, Office of Treaty Affairs, UN Office of Drugs and Crime
  • Margery Kraus, Founder and Executive Chairman, APCO Worldwide
  • Uto Ukpanah, Company Secretary, MTN Nigeria Communications PLC

What did we learn?

  • In response to COVID-19, the UN Global Compact issued a special appeal, calling on businesses to use the 10 Principles of the Global Compact as a guide for recovery, and to build trust through communications and policies that are consistent, inclusive and transparent. These themes are embodied in Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  • A strong leadership culture anchored in trust, honesty, empathy and authenticity is essential in times of crisis. Business leaders must ask what they can actively do to create a safe space to have open, honest and trusting conversations and acknowledge when they do not have the answers.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has increased financial pressures, and has also disrupted operations and corporate compliance programs. Businesses are faced with heightened fraud and corruption risks throughout the organization and supply chain, including risks related to illicit financial flows, organized crime, conflict of interests, price gouging, fraudulent financial reporting, counterfeit goods, bribery, among other criminal practices.
  • Insufficient accountability and oversight into economic stimulus packages increases the risk of corruption and fraud, and places the most vulnerable populations most at risk. The threat of organized crime also increases in replacing the efforts of government and reputable businesses.
  • The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime recommends building and strengthening accountability and reporting, ensuring participatory decision-making and instituting strong compliance and oversight mechanisms.
  • It is particularly important to establish or strengthen whistleblower policies and protections to increase the detection and reduce the opportunity for illegal and inappropriate conduct, including whistleblower retaliation.
  • Companies should provide better information about products and services in order to avoid price gouging, and ensure that products and services are manufactured, distributed and sold (or donated) in compliance with relevant policies, laws and regulations and in a manner that upholds core values and ethical practices.
  • Recent events, including COVID-19 and police brutality in the United States, have created a confluence of issues that amplify the injustices and inequalities that exist in our society.
  • These crises call for multi-stakeholder cooperation, making multilateralism more essential than ever. The United Nations and UN Global Compact has a critical role to play in advancing the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and supporting opportunities for partnerships between businesses and governments.
  • Proactive preparedness and strong leadership in business and government are essential to building resilience and response for the next crisis. Crises have the potential to inspire our best thinking and to make sure that we can build back better and stronger.

Recommended Resources:

Ensuring Access to Justice in the Context of COVID-19 (UNODC)

COVID-19 and Anti-Corruption (UNODC)

Compliance in Times of Crisis (WEF-PACI)

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