In a series of blog posts curated by the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI), a number of leading voices will present their perspectives on anti-corruption in the run-up to World Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December. In the following post, Indraneel Ganguli, Senior Vice-President Marketing and Communications of Mahindra Satyam, takes a view on emerging markets from the company’s personal experience
Corruption hangs like a black cloud over the world we live in and growing economies are becoming increasingly aware of its debilitating effects on growth, competitiveness and creating an optimal environment in which to conduct business. Information technology has not only played a big part in economic progress in emerging markets but also has enabled more sophisticated and extensive corruption.
However, there are three dimensions that can play a key role in dispelling this black cloud: civil society; the electronic media; and ICT (information and communication technology).
Civil society can be very effective, as seen by the recent mini revolution in India, where protests from ordinary people have turned into a passionate movement that refuses to accept corruption as the norm. Businesses can and should build on this momentum, creating a broader base of engagement with stakeholders and new opportunities to contribute tangible solutions for improving the business, government and the public interact with each other.
Electronic media has played a hugely important role in highlighting, exposing and ensuring justice in several cases. The ability of the public to express its voice and leverage crowd-sourcing technologies can bring new visibility and accountability to those who are responsible for unacceptable behaviour.
ICT enables anti-corruption mechanisms and measures, enhancing transparency at the transactional level, especially in e-governance. It provides the means for easier access to records and facilitates accountability in geographically separated systems. By replacing weak parts of a procurement process, for example, with a technology solution, there is less opportunity to circumvent those elements of the process designed to create a fair and open solicitation.
At Mahindra Satyam for example, we have experienced the power and pitfalls of technology; the company has survived a crisis and emerged stronger due to its faith, its spirit and its people. The journey was not easy, but our unwavering focus on transparency and governance helped the turnaround. We prescribed a governance structure that was monitored at the highest levels, with independent directors, an ombudsman, a code of ethical business conduct and a whistle-blower policy. Mahindra Satyam’s online interaction ecosystem (OIE) platform helped our associates to communicate efficiently and our Freevoice system has given them a way to directly voice their concerns and ideas to the highest level, ensuring complete transparency.
Companies today have to invest in and, more importantly, to value the process of governance and transparency. This commitment starts at the top and needs to be non-negotiable throughout an organization.
Author: Indraneel Ganguli is Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Communications at Mahindra Satyam
Image: Two men walking as one of them holds a Laptop computer REUTERS/Christian Charisius