CWEIC held a panel event at Goodenough College on 8th February on the issue of “Transparency as a tool for improving trust in business”. Panellists explored ways in which businesses can enhance and improve dialogue with Government and use transparency as a tool to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
The panel was Chaired by Michael Bowes QC, Fellow of Goodenough College, an expert in business crime, civil fraud, financial services and economic sanctions. Panellists included Robert Barrington, Executive Director of the UK chapter of Transparency International, the world’s leading anti-corruption organisation, CEO of Sterling Media Natasha Mudhar and our very own Chief Executive, Richard Burge.
Richard focused his opening remarks on the shocking financial costs of corruption in business. Nigeria’s oil industry alone is said to have lost around $35 billion to corruption over the decade from 2004-2014. The UN has stated that corruption costs some countries up to 17% of GDP. Just as critical however, Richard argued, are the intangible costs of a loss of trust in business and the credibility of the systems of regulation and governance that budding entrepreneurs are asked to work within.
Working in the communications industry, Natasha Mudhar was asked whether she saw any contradiction in the industry and it’s work on the transparency agenda. Natasha stated that in a changing business environment where data is becoming ever easier to access amidst a growing public interest, companies with bad practices are being exposed. Natasha also argued that for any brand to be successful, it must have a meaning and purpose derived from a founding set of values.
Robert Barrington spoke of the long way to go before business and governments can become fully accountable but also cited encouraging progress in much of the world with India becoming an increasing success story. Discussions concluded with the panel highlighting the opportunity of April’s Commonwealth Business Forum to re-establish public trust in businesses throughout the Commonwealth.