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The Case for Anti-Corruption and Ethics Training

20 December 2019

Countering Corruption in the Workplace

Corruption is defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.[1] According to Transparency International, 123 countries worldwide have been identified as having a serious corruption problem.[2] Corruption comes in many forms including bribery, blackmail, conflicts of interest, collusion and fraud.

Corruption can present significant challenges for organisations. Research from the World Bank has found that firms who pay bribes are likely to face higher costs and spend more, not less, management time dealing with red tape and regulatory burden.[3] Consequently, corruption makes a country a less attractive proposition for investment – particularly for multinationals using a country as an export platform.

Ireland is currently perceived to be the 18th-least corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International’s (TI) 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).[4] The CPI ranks 180 countries according to perceived levels of corruption and is based on surveys of business leaders and country analysts from around the world. There has been a general trend of improvement in recent years, with Ireland climbing from 25th place in 2012.

Although recent reforms such as the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and the establishment of a dedicated Garda Anti-Corruption Unit have strengthened Ireland’s anti-corruption regime, research indicates that Irish organisations still face risks from acts of bribery and corruption.

EY’s 2018 Global Fraud Survey found that 10% of senior business leaders say bribery and corruption happen widely in Ireland, almost four times the global average. In addition, 30% say fraud and corruption are among the biggest risks facing their business.[5]

Deloitte’s Bribery and Corruption Survey 2019 suggests that organisations are not doing enough to combat these risks. The survey of 106 executives revealed that most companies devoted too little attention or resources to deterring and identifying acts of bribery or corruption affecting their workplace. When staff members were caught, this most commonly happened by chance, confession or tip-off, not through systemic safeguards.[6]

Insufficient anti-corruption controls can leave a company vulnerable to legal penalties. Ireland’s Criminal Justice (Corruption) Act 2018 has introduced a new corporate corruption offence whereby a corporate shall be found guilty of an offence if it is committed by an employee or third party. Under the Act, a business will need to prove that it took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to prevent the offence occurring in order to defend itself against proceedings.

Anti-Corruption and Ethics Training

Corruption can undermine an organisation’s reputation, culture, regulatory standing and profitability therefore it is imperative that employers adopt a proactive, holistic approach to managing risk. Regular training of employees is considered one of the most effective ways to prevent corruption.[7]

Transparency International Ireland provides anti-corruption training and ethics training to members as part of its Integrity at Work programme. Anti-corruption training familiarises staff with best practice principles for preventing fraud and corruption and improves understanding of anti-corruption legislation and accountability mechanisms. This can be complemented by ethics training which encourages an ethical culture by helping staff to develop an ethical decision-making model.

As part of a wider anti-corruption programme, effective training can empower staff with the skills and knowledge to foster integrity in the workplace.

If you are a member of the Integrity at Work programme and you would like more information on anti-corruption training and ethics training, please contact Stephanie Casey on (01) 554 3953 or email support[at]transparency.ie.


[1] What is Corruption? – Transparency International: https://www.transparency.org/what-is-corruption

[2] Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 – Transparency International: https://www.transparency.org/cpi2018

[3] Does “Grease Money” speed up the wheels of commerce?”, Daniel Kaufmann & Shang-Jin Wei, World Bank Institute: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/189751468739475975/123523322_20041117155048/additional/multi-page.pdf

[4] Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 - Transparency International: https://www.transparency.org/cpi2018

[7] Fighting Against Corruption: Does Anti-corruption Training Make Any Difference?, Christian Hauser, Journal of Business Ethics: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-018-3808-3