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A collective need to rebuild public trust

Michael Jarvis's picture

The global economic crisis revealed large scale fraud in the financial sector (witness the Madoff scandal, among others). Unsurprisingly, it  has prompted widespread decline in public trust in companies. The Financial Times / Harris Poll released last month suggests three-quarters of people in the US and Europe now have a worse opinion of business.

It is practically impossible for a single stakeholder on their own to effectively address the problems that contributed to this crisis: corruption, greed, a lack of transparency and leadership. Hence there is a case for collective action that enables companies to collaborate with competitors and/or stakeholders from the public and civil society sector to create and maintain fair market conditions. Recognizing this, the World Bank Institute is organizing an Executive Development Program Fighting Corruption through Collective Action in Today’s Competitive Marketplaces precisely on such joint approaches.

The Program will offer practical guidance on collective action tools for doing business in high risk situations useful for both corporate decision makers and government officials. It will draw on a growing number of examples. Some, such as the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance, bring together the usual suspects of multinationals based in OECD countries, but others are engaging local firms in some tough operating environments, be it Cambodia's Clean Business Initiative, or the Convention on Business Integrity in Nigeria. Registration and additional information available via www.fightingcorruption.org.

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