Julia, you have been actively involved in the B20 / G20 process as deputy to the Chair of the B20 Cross Thematic Group on Responsible Business Conduct and Anti-Corruption, Dr. Klaus Moosmayer, Siemens Chief Compliance Officer and Anti-Corruption Chair of Business at OECD (BIAC). We’ve heard of “G20” meetings. But what exactly is the “B20”?
The B20 stands for “Business 20”. It is the voice of global business in the political discussions held by the Governments of the twenty, economically strongest developing and developed, countries, the “G20”.
These countries are responsible for 85 percent of the global gross domestic product and represent about two-thirds of the world’s population. The global impact of their political decisions explains the importance of the B20 members’ participation as a contributor to the shaping of the international political agenda and the inclusion of compliance issues.
The B20 covers a wide array of global economic issues and this year, it was organized by the three German business associations BDI, BDA and DIHK around seven themes. The Cross Thematic Group on Responsible Business Conduct and Anti-Corruption is one of them. We were very pleased this year when the B20 decided again to set up a group on responsible business conduct and anti-corruption whose recommendations could be included in the G20 discussions.
We are looking forward to handing over our recommendations to the German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel during the B20 summit in Berlin on 3 May. Germany presides the G20 meetings this year.
Which topics do the recommendations of the Group on Responsible Business Conduct and Anti-Corruption encompass?
Our recommendations revolve around the three topics of 1) establishing beneficial ownership transparency, 2) recognizing compliance efforts and 3) enhancing Responsible Business Conduct in infrastructure projects. In addition, we provided input to other B20 groups on Human Rights in global value chains and on anti-corruption in customs.
Each recommendation encompasses three policy actions which the G20 members should tackle. This is a graphic overview of our recommendations:
Our recommendations are further outlined in the B20 Responsible Business Conduct and Anti-Corruption Cross-thematic Group Policy Paper and Factsheet. Incidentally, “our recommendations”, means that the recommendations were developed with contributions from our group members which include more than 100 members from 26 countries from a range of sectors of the economy and society.
What are the messages you would like to highlight?
A central message of our recommendations is that the regulatory framework must be such that companies realize that responsible business conduct is worthwhile. Thus, we called our paper “Promoting Integrity by Creating Opportunities for Responsible Businesses”. Although many companies have already integrated the responsible business conduct approach into their overall business strategy, there is still much left to be improved in the regulatory framework of G20 countries and beyond. This includes encouraging self-disclosure and self-cleaning of companies which establish an effective compliance system by granting reductions in sanctions and penalties. In order to encourage companies to self-disclose compliance infringements, it is also vital that national laws which provide leniency or reductions of penalties are harmonized amongst the different countries concerned. Bidding criteria in public tenders are also an effective means to promote responsible business conduct. These criteria should foster responsible business practices.
One of the other messages involves the need for stakeholders to cooperate in order to combat more effectively the poverty, waste of resources and erosion of trust inherent to corruption. To do this we need the support of governments as well as cooperation between government entities and business. One way to achieve this is through “Collective Action”, such as Integrity Pacts and High Level Reporting Mechanisms. Of course with due respect to any legal restrictions that might exist with regard to such cooperation.
G20 members should address not only the “supply side” of corruption but also the “demand side”. The creation of a culture of integrity through integrity training for authorities and integrity education at schools and universities contributes to that.
More information on the B20, including the B20 policy papers and recommendations on how to tackle these issues, can be found under www.b20germany.org.
Dr. Julia Sommer, LL.M.
Senior Legal Counsel
Attorney at law
The ETHIC Intelligence Expert’s Corner is an opportunity for specialists in the field of anti-corruption compliance to express their views on approaches to and developments in the sector. The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors.