Corruption begins in small ways, but has dramatic consequences. In an interview, Olajobi Makinwa, who heads Transparency and Anti-Corruption Initiatives at the UN Global Compact, and Thomas Kremer, Board of Management member responsible for Data Privacy, Legal Affairs and Compliance at Deutsche Telekom , made this clear.
Ms. Makinwa, today is the United Nations' International Anti-Corruption Day. What drives you personally to combat corruption?
Olajobi Makinwa: Corruption is one of the greatest injustices of our time. It hinders prosperity and development. It deprives children of the opportunity to go to school and receive health care. It leads to poor infrastructure and unsafe buildings. Of course, these dramatic consequences are all the more obvious in less developed countries. But corruption is a global phenomenon. And its victims are generally the weakest members of a society.
Thomas Kremer: If I can just add to that: The media does pick up major corruption cases. But most people are unaware of the consequences of corruption in companies. Corruption means that contracts are awarded not to the best, but to those who pay the biggest bribes. And generally speaking, no one then looks too closely at how well the work is done. That is why we at Deutsche Telekom have a zero tolerance policy. We are also making this very clear again in the current campagne.
What should companies do to fight corruption, Ms. Makinwa?
Olajobi Makinwa: Personal responsibility is crucial. And managers must take the lead by setting an example. In addition, companies need to collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against corruption, for example through innovative collective action and public-private dialogue or partnerships designed to address specific corruption challenges. Governments and companies must work together to fight corruption.
Mr. Kremer, is Deutsche Telekom doing enough to fight corruption?
Thomas Kremer: The Board of Management leads by clear example, we raise the awareness of and train our employees and give them the opportunity to ask specific questions through channels such as email@example.com . Employees can also report incidents via firstname.lastname@example.org – and they can do so anonymously on the Internet. Thus we have provided a basis for rigorous action in the event of violations. No one can say, "I didn't know that was prohibited."
Is corruption generally increasing or decreasing?
Olajobi Makinwa: The fact is, corruption is everywhere and has been from time immemorial. What has definitely grown is public awareness. There is less tolerance for corruption, and hence more cases come to light. However, this does not necessarily mean that there are more cases than in the past. On top of this come some very stringent laws in countries such as the United States and the UK. Emerging markets like India and China are following suit. So corruption is no longer an accepted business practice, and that is huge progress.
Deutsche Telekom is a member of the UN Global Compact’s Working Group on the 10th Principle against Corruption , which works to advance implementation of the 10th Principle by the business community.