Doing business ethically is an emerging trend in corporate governance. In fact businesses that have in place sound ethics and integrity have a higher rating than those that do not.
While ethics and integrity do not have to be legislated, it is important to have in place policies that uphold them otherwise they may remain vague and ambiguous.
Some of the policies which businesses are encourage to have include anti-bribing, whistle blower protection, and on diversity.
An anti-bribing policy is not only meant for internal use but also external clients .
Through the policy, the business expects stakeholders to adhere to it values.
A firm may set out the definition of bribery and even have some examples of situations which are deemed to flout the policy.
The policy should set out a disciplinary process for staff found engaging in the vice.
The Bribery Act was enacted in 2016 with the objectives of preventing, investigating and punishing bribery seekers and givers.
It is interesting to note that the Act applies to the private sector as well.
Bribing is categorised into giving and receiving. Giving a bribe does not only include financial favours, it encompasses any other advantage that would accrue to the receiver as a result of the bribe.
The law recognises giving a bribe as an offence. On the other hand, a person receives a bribe when he requests for, agrees to receive and actually receives a financial or other favour.
The Act requires organisations, whether public or private, to put in place mechanisms through which bribery is punished.
This may include operational or other mechanisms. Section 9 of the Act states that it is an offence for any entity whether public or private to fail to put in place an anti-bribery mechanism.
It is also an offence for private entities to give bribes in return for favours.
The penalty under the Act is a prison term not exceeding 10 years or a fine of Sh5 million.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission can guide organisations on the installation of anti-bribery mechanisms. It is important to note that the Act makes it mandatory for organisations to have in place anti-bribery mechanisms.
Having guidelines for ethics and integrity alone is not enough. The values have to be legislated in the form of a policy and communicated to staff, who can also be trained on the same.
The Bribery Act is detailed on the definition of the vice, hence your business’ anti-bribing policy should be detailed.
Professional bodies, for example the Law Society of Kenya, have put in place detailed ethical requirements for members.
There are statutes that set out ethical and professional standards of professions, for example The Advocates Act.
Such professional bodies can be appropriate avenues for training members on anti-bribery laws and policies. It is prudent to set out guidelines and punitive measures to be meted out on errant members.