Corruption kills.

James Farrar, SAP VP for CSR kindly invited me up to Berlin, with James Governor, Dennis Howlett, Michael Schwandt and Stephanie Raabe. We had a good, open session on web 2.0 and what it could mean for Transparency International. Dennis and James have both blogged about the meeting, so I won’t repeat what they said here.

A couple of things hit home from the meeting. In our little enterprisey blogging echo chamber, it is unlikely that anything we post or read could lead someone’s life being threatened. Egos may be dented here and there, tempers may flair at worst.

But when your organisation is

Transparency International, the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world. TI’s mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption.

The folks at Transparency International and the people they advise sometimes risk life and limb.

On reading the annual reports it made me realise that the Constant Gardener was more fact than fiction. I read of whistle blowers disappearing, and the extent and depth of corruption is numbing.

“Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. Some estimates put money corruptly leaving the continent at greater than that arriving as aid. Much of the money is banked in
Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies and sometimes British citizens or companies are involved in corrupt deals. We want our government to get tough on corruption.”

– Hugh Bayley MP, Chair; House of Commons Africa All Party Parliamentary Group,29 March 2006

I’m glad that TI are exploring how web 2.0 can raise awareness, drive funding and build a stronger link to the community. And I believe it can help make TI even more relevant than it is today. At the same time, they are right to proceed cautiously. There is a lot more at stake than I realised before I visited them.

As I slip my latte and blog about ERP, it is humbling to think that

Over one billion people lack clean drinking water; close to three billion lack adequate sanitation. In 2006, Transparency International co-founded the Water Integrity Network to bring transparency and integrity to the water sector.

We can all do our bit to fight corruption. It is sand in the gears of capitalism at best, and at worst it is counterfeit heart valves,and substandard concrete that collapses at the slightest shudder. Markets are not free if they are corrupt. Even the most libertarian of thinkers, Milton Friedman, asserted that businesses have no social responsibility other than to increase profits and refrain from engaging in deception and fraud. It is unfortunate that the second half of this quote is often ignored. I’ll leave the broader discussion CSR and GRC for another post, save to say there is more to this than SOX 404.

If you cant see the videos head over to TIs’s youtube channel, a good 2.0esque step…)

Bribery and corruption require both supply and demand.

If you want to donate to TI, or just find out more about what they do, head over to the website. Give them some linklove while you are at it.

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4 thoughts on “Corruption kills.

  1. Thanks much for the encouragement and the support for our work. It’ s been great having you guys over and we look very much forward to taking things to the next (practical) level soonest. On a lighter note, and in the spirit of the nearing holiday season, allow me to include this link to a small christmas goodie Jesse, Georg, Alan and I produced with our friends of Faktor17 .

    Video: Santa Claus at the border post

    the great guys who animated it
    http://www.faktor17.de/index1.html

  2. I think the Milton Friedman comment is bang on. Transparency really is the sharp end of CSR – if the corporate community will not do it’s utmost to protect the integrity of the markets we all depend upon then we all face serious consequences. Interesting discussion on corruption ongoing at Spend Matters
    http://www.spendmatters.com/index.cfm/2007/11/28/Africa-is-Not-the-New-Asia-When-it-Comes-to-Global-Sourcing I linked you in my comment there but the track back isn’t working. Thanks again for coming to Berlin and sharing your insights.

  3. CSR is such an important concept and many companies are realizing that it is now a key lever to use to promote brand and protect their reputation in the marketplace. What I love about working with SAP on this topic is not just that SAP is aware of the need for CSR and a social awareness in general, but that our GRC technology can contribute to CSR initiatives in a very real way. We can help our customers become more effective and efficient in relation to both CSR and general business performance. Thanks for your focus on this important business topic.

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