Hot topic: Corporate corruption

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What is HR’s role in preventing corruption?

Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort has been indicted over allegations of money laundering, which is likely to be the first step in a long investigation. What can HR professionals do if they fear their organisation may be part of corrupt practices?

Steve Othen, head of HR and projects at the REC, says:

"Despite what controls you implement there will sometimes be individuals looking to get ahead without concern of how they get there. This isn’t solely down to HR to solve, but we certainly have a role to play. If this behaviour is embedded within the business then fix it fast. If that’s not possible vote with your feet and leave.

"We have to root out corruption but we need to do this the right way. Encourage positive behaviour and deal correctly with issues as they occur – don’t hide them but avoid the reputation of being the ‘policy police’.

"We can start by having a core set of company values that we select by, that we induct to and that we develop on. We need to make sure that we create environments in which people are rewarded for the right reasons, but also safe for people to speak out if they think something is wrong. Organisations need to have guidelines on how to deal with criminal behaviour and staff need to know that they will be supported if they report malpractice."

Chris Dalton, associate professor of management learning at Henley Business School, says:

"The word corruption carries two meanings. Often it is dishonest or fraudulent activity by people in positions of power or authority, but it may also refer to a general process of turning something healthy into something spoiled or rotten. The first is individual, the second is collective, but they are inter-related.

"Corruption by individuals is taking more than your position entitles you to. This breaks written and unwritten rules of fairness and equity and creates (or shows) an imbalance in a system.

"If there are widespread and repeated cases of corruption, whether corporate or government, then it is worth examining the system for historic imbalances of give and take.

"A French philosopher once observed that every nation gets the government it deserves, and while individuals must be held accountable for their actions, our response should also be mindful of what all that corrupt behaviour may be signalling in terms of a deeper problem."

Check back tomorrow for part two of this Hot Topic

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