In a very interesting editorial piece for the Wall Street Journal, columnist William Galston discussed the negative attitude that most Americans have for corporations. Galston cited to a variety of reasons, including the financial crash of 2008 and the onset of the “Great Recession” the same year. Other factors included the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas, the explosion in CEO pay, and what Galston called the breach of the “social compact” between citizens and its corporations, where “people are willing to give big business substantial latitude to chart its own course. In return, business leaders are expected to give due weight to the interests of the people, including not only the businesses’ employees but also the citizens of the communities whose well-being the leaders’ decisions affect.” Such pact has been shattered by the actions of many companies.

Of the many reasons for compliance with anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA, this social compact may be not only one of the strongest but also one of the most overlooked. Complying with the FCPA is simple; a company merely does not engage in bribery. However it is not easy from a business perspective. The work comes when putting a best practices compliance program into place for your organization. A company must want to do so; you simply cannot stumble your (corporate) way into FCPA compliance.

Moreover designing, building, creating, and enhancing a best practices compliance program takes time, money, and resources. To do all of this starts with a commitment from top management to do so. If there is no such commitment, even the best paper compliance program will be just that, a paper compliance program. Any company committed to doing business in compliance with the FCPA and more generally with an ethical business component, is more likely to honor the social contract detailed by Galston.

Galston ends his piece with the following, “The moral for corporate leaders is clear: If you care only about shareholder value, only your shareholders will care about you.” If your company puts good business ethics at the heart of how it does business, it will have a larger pool to draw upon for support, even in the current state of U.S. affairs. 

Continue the conversation at Compliance Week Europe: 7-8 November at the Crowne Plaza Brussels. Join us as we look at changes in global anti-corruption regulations, slave labour risks in your supply chain, and how to detect fraud, to name just a few topics. Learn more