Integrity on the Front Lines

27 October, 2020

Every company’s rewards and incentives schemes have side effects. Do you know what yours are? In this podcast episode from Leading Transformational Change, Tobias Sturesson talks with guest Richard Bistrong, CEO of Front-Line Anti-Bribery, about integrity and how leaders and organisations need to navigate the tension between the pressure to succeed and the pressure to comply.

How can you make the values on the wall operational in the business? Why should you encourage conversations about real-world ethical dilemmas? Why do middle managers have a crucial role in whether the message and culture of ethics will be amplified, distorted, discarded, or discounted on the front-lines? As Bistrong says, the creeping temptation to think “Who’s really losing?” means you quickly lose sight of the fact that “… small bribes robs societies of good governance, economic development and human rights, to me it’s all a win-win.”

What creates the space for unethical behaviour in an organisation’s culture? Ethics, compliance and responsible business practices need to come from the corporate narrative. Bad behaviour can hide behind good performance, so business leaders need to set expectations. When incentives and objectives are being developed compliance and other support function leaders including HR and finance need to sit at the table to together to make sure the incentives and objectives are aligned with the company values. Tension between succeeding and compliance exists in every organisation committed to growth and can be a healthy part of business, but Bistrong says care is needed when launching new products, going into new markets or growing businesses in volatile and high risk parts of the world.

Bistrong knows what he’s talking about – he went from being a successful Vice President at a Law Enforcement and Defense company to being sentenced for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, going undercover for the FBI, and finally to prison. Today he advises leaders, HR, and compliance professionals on ethics and compliance challenges at institutions such as the World Bank, The International Anti-Corruption Academy, and global multinationals.

Leading Transformational Change with Tobias Sturesson, 14 October 2020. Listen to the full podcast episode here.

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Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash