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Progress against corruption?

Corruption is still a major problem for Italian companies. The 2017 survey conducted by EY entitled “Human instinct vs Machine logic: Which do you trust most in the fight against fraud and corruption?” showed that 71% of Italians consider corruption a core problem, but it is on its way to improvement. According to the survey businesses are worldwide operating in an increasingly uncertain climate because of rapid political, regulatory and economic changes.


The report was based on the data collected between November 2016 and January 2017 on the base of 4,100 interviews conducted in 41 countries across EMEIA by Ipsos MORI, on behalf of EY. The main aspect showed was that companies, especially in a time of crisis, seek ambitious revenue targets in an environment still pervaded by fraud, bribery and corruption. Today's workforce, particularly among younger generations is characterized by unethical conduct and mistrust among colleagues.


Italy stood out for the number of people worried about corruption as 71% of the respondents think that corruption remains a widespread problem for the country, a percentage that for the overall EMEIA region is much lower, at 51%. According to the Survey, 14% of the respondents in Italy would be willing to engage in corruption to secure an advantage for their company. Only 2% would provide false information to their leaders in order to obtain career promotions and a better wage.


Italy is in the 60th place in the ranking of the corruption report, issued by Transparency International, with a score of 47/100, where 0 stays for “very corrupt” and 100 stays for “not corrupt at all”. Italy showed an improvement in 2016 in comparison with 2015 with regard to corruption (when it was ranked 61st with 44 points). This improvement might be due to a more optimistic view of the country by foreign institutions and investors.


The most remarkable improvement was recorded if we consider the time-frame from 2012, when the anti-corruption law entered into force, until nowadays. In the last 15 years, Italy has made significant progress in the fight against corruption, moving forward over 12 positions in the worldwide ranking, that is from 72nd place to the 60th place.


Technology can help to identify and detect misconduct when it is not reported. Information is the key to mitigating the risks and businesses should maximize the value they get from their data. Companies could also address the issue by motivating their employees to “do the right thing”, but to do this employees should feel safe and strong in their job and this is not the kind of situation young Italians work in.


In Italy only 21% of respondents are aware of the fact that whistle-blowing programs are available in their companies. 11% saw a limited improvement in whistle-blowers protection compared to three years ago. In many companies, the employees are unaware of the tools they could use to give voice to their concerns and many feel the pressure to keep information confidential. Companies should adopt effective instruments to enable their employees to report to the management non-ethic conducts without any risk or consequences.  Fostering inside the company a culture that encourages compliance with ethical principles should be encouraged, also to avoid that missing notification could later result in additional costs due to sanctions and judicial proceedings.  

Giulia Lombardo

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