Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Business ethics must be upheld

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A survey report made public recently by Earnst and Young (EY), one of the largest professional services firms in the world and is one of the "Big Four" accounting firms, has brought to the fore the truly deplorable state of work ethics in conducting business in Bangladesh.

In the survey conducted by EY's Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services practice involving more than 100 senior corporate and business professionals in the region 89 per cent of the respondents believe companies should self-report cases of fraud, bribery and corruption to the appropriate authorities.

In the same survey 50 per cent of the respondents said their company lost business to a competitor that may have acted unethically to win a contract, while 58 per cent considered paying bribes as unethical but necessary to conduct business and 25 per cent said they believed it was not a company's responsibility to monitor activities managed by its vendors or third parties.

When the above findings depict a rather unpleasant picture the survey has brought forward some encouraging findings as well. It says most of the respondents called for greater commitment from the company authority and strict enforcement of the law in order to address the risks of fraud, bribery and corruption. At the same time, a big majority of them have expressed their willingness to do the right thing.     

Earnst and Young rightly mentioned Bangladesh as one of the 10 emerging markets of the future and the second-fastest growing economy in the world and said the country's strategic geographic location and natural resources provide the potential to develop strong commercial ties with the rest of Asia. But, at the same time, the leading professional service provider in the world says, combating fraud risks must be a priority for companies in the country if it is to capitalize on business growth opportunities and cultivate a positive commercial environment.

It suggests the companies need to communicate to their employees the importance of upholding ethical standards - and developing programs that promote ethical behavior. Such actions, the report says, will be instrumental in driving transparency and sound governance.

It has also been suggested in the report that companies in Bangladesh need to follow the example of mature economies by adopting leading global practices, ramping up internal controls and anticipating future risks.It is our hope policymakers and businesses in the country will pay proper attention to address this issue of immense importance. 

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