Bribery is a white collar crime that can seriously damage the trust people have in a business. Unfortunately, many people justify bribery as an acceptable method of gaining influence or wealth. Company executives and employees who accept bribes often do not comprehend the harm bribery does to their business after the public discovers it.

According to Harvard Business Review, people caught up in bribery scandals suffer a host of consequences. In addition to personal shame, business executives who take bribes seriously disrupt their business, cost their business a lot of money, and negatively brand the company as a place of corruption.

Taking action in the private sector

HBR points out that laws criminalizing bribery have not been enough to put a serious dent in bribery and corruption. The private sector should be more proactive in policing itself. While companies often tackle corruption through internal policies, HBR explains that using an external standard may help guide companies to create more effective policies.

Strengthening anti-corruption policies

HBR points out that companies may better combat bribery by defining specific responsibilities for people who serve on boards and top management and by creating a culture that encourages company staff to comply with anti-bribery efforts. A business should also make sure their policies and enforcement are consistent across different locations. Companies can also take steps to make sure third party suppliers and subsidiaries comply with anti-corruption practices.

Properly defining bribery

The Cornell Law School points out that bribery entails a “quid pro quo” arrangement where one party directly changes the behavior of another party in engage for a gift. Some activities, such as political campaign contributions, do not count as bribery since it does not constitute a direct relationship. So anti-bribery measures in business, while important, should not entangle innocent people who are not unduly influenced by another party.