Just as our deputy editor put the finishing touches to this issue’s feature on the UK Bribery Act, a press release dropped into my inbox that was not only relevant to the topic, but actually very useful. (A relevant, useful press release is as rare to a journalist as a small side salad is to John Prescott, by the way.) And it’s a flow chart!
“Business ethics advisor” GoodCorporation reckons fears that the Act will spell the end of corporate hospitality are overplayed, and has come up with a simple way of assessing how close to committing a bribe you might be when inviting a client or contact for a nice spot of Michelin-starred dinner or world-class cricket.
If you turn to page 9 you’ll see GoodCorporation’s diagram (they call it a decision tree; I’ve christened it a corporate hospitali-tree) against which you can make a quick check on any planned outings. I recommend all FDs read our deputy editor’s piece, then photocopy the diagram and keep it handy. It asks simple questions such as, “is the guest a sole decision maker?” and “is there a current bid or new contract at stake?” – and “would you be embarrassed if it were in the papers?”. It’s a great litmus test that could stop you getting into hot water while your lawyer attempts to understand what the Ministry of Justice means by ‘bribe’.
If, as Deloitte’s latest CFO survey suggests, UK businesses are shifting from being risk-averse to investing in growth, that means wining and dining new and prospective clients will be all-important, but with the Act in place you don’t want to risk business development becoming a risk in itself. So keep things simple, engage common sense, and before you sign off those trips for your chief executive and some prospects to Mumbai for this year’s ICC Cricket World Cup, think: hospitali-tree.
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