Bribery and corruption – the tone is set at the top

EVERY THIRD BRIBERY CASE, which has led to a conviction from 2012 onwards, has concerned the construction industry, according to a survey conducted by the Swedish Anti-Corruption Institute.

VEIDEKKE’S COMPLIANCE OFFICER Elisabeth André talks about the company’s work to reverse the trend.

“All new employees attend a mandatory introductory course where the company’s ethical guidelines, values and culture are presented. Everyone who works with business, and meets customers and suppliers, must also attend another course, which goes even deeper. In addition, all employees participate in an annual, compulsory, web-based learning programme on corporate ethical guidelines.”

TO FILL ANY GAPS in knowledge and erase grey zones, Veidekke has also introduced an ethics council that employees can turn to with questions and dilemmas. Something that has been a success in the company.

“We get in lots of questions. Everything from is it correct to accept a client’s mingle invitation to if it is OK to go on a study visit to a supplier. We see this as proof that our training programme has been effective. There is a large difference now in openness compared with a few years ago. It’s when you don’t discuss questions that it gets dangerous,” says Elisabeth André.

IN THEIR PROACTIVE WORK against bribery and corruption, Veidekke decided this year to only allow suppliers in two stages to avoid unreliable companies. This is something Elisabeth André thinks that even smaller companies in the construction industry would benefit from.

“If the chain of suppliers gets too long, you lose control over who is working on the project. In this way, we gain much greater insight and can avoid unreliable companies and ultimately problems with bribery and corruption. Elisabeth André emphasises that by far the most important factor when creating a healthy corporate culture is that the management is active and shows both in words and deeds the values that the company stands for – and those that are unacceptable.

“The tone is set at the top. It does not matter if a middle manager or a project manager does everything right and sets a good example if the management doesn’t show the way. The highest manager has to gather staff, tell them what he/she supports and that this is the way they are required to work.

“Glossy brochures and web training courses can never replace physical meetings. Everyone should be involved; nobody should be allowed to hide in their room without taking a position on these issues. Knowledge and information are key to change,” she concludes.

Read more (in Swedish)