Waltham, Mass. – Worries about bribery topped the list of crucial concerns addressed by corporate America, according to a 2007 study conducted by Integrity Interactive Corp., a firm that helps global corporations manage and reduce risk of compliance failures.

Bribery replaces financial integrity, which ranked No. 1 in last year’s study.
The firm analyzed the actual compliance-training records of more than 2.8 million employees across a variety of vertical markets who completed online ethics and compliance courses chosen from a list of more than 150 topics. Insurers represented nine of 400 companies studied—roughly 153,000 employees—and from those polled, privacy ranked the No. 1 concern, followed by information security and records management. Anti-bribery ranked 11th in overall concerns among insurers, a company spokesperson told INN. The official ranking by insurers is as follows:

1.    Information security
2.    Records management
3.    Confidentiality
4.    Antitrust contact w/competitors
5.    Mutual respect
6.    Financial integrity
7.    Proper use of computers
8.    Anti-money laundering
9.    Fair claims handling
10.    Conflicts of interest & gifts
11.    Anti-bribery requirements

Along with anti-bribery, the larger global corporate population surveyed noted concerns about records management and antitrust contact with competitors. Five concerns that appeared on the global 2006 list fell off the list in 2007: Sarbanes Oxley & business controls, confidentiality, insider trading and workplace violence. These issues are still of significant concern to global companies today, however, their absence from the 2007 list shows the importance of other critical business concerns, notes Integrity Interactive.

“Integrity’s research confirms that companies take ethics and compliance matters seriously and understand that one of the best ways to remain scandal-free is to implement quality training of employees and suppliers,” says Richard Cellini, a VP at Integrity Interactive and a member of the New York Bar.

Online training is emerging as the preferred method for communicating ethics and compliance policies and best practices to employees worldwide, according to Integrity Interactive. Many organizations require that employees take and pass Integrity’s online ethics courses, providing compliance officers, CFOs and general counsel with a dependable audit trail of their efforts to educate staff on ethics and compliance matters. Integrity’s Top 12 study analyzes the course-completion rates across its customers and provides a ranking of the most popular training courses, while also illustrating issues of growing concern.

The leading corporate ethics and compliance concerns in 2007 among the variety of vertical markets surveyed are as follows:

•    Anti-bribery requirements: The top compliance-training topic covered by major corporations today, anti-bribery aims to help companies avoid the difficulties of organizations under investigation for charges relating to official corruption.

•    Records management: Electronic discovery rules enacted in recent years have placed increasing burdens on corporations to establish, enforce and document comprehensive records retention programs.

•    Antitrust contact with competitors: Illustrates the importance of educating executives—frequently those in sales and marketing—about not engaging in practices that could reduce competition or consumer choice.

Additionally, new concerns appeared in 2007, including: careful communication and expo t controls. Straight from today’s headlines, product safety and liability became a hot topic as more companies grapple with supply chain nightmares such as those faced by global toy manufacturer Mattel Inc.

Company size influenced risk-management priorities. Very large corporations (90,000+ employees) made records management their leading priority. Large (10,000 to 90,000 employees) and mid-sized (1,000 to 10,000 employees) companies made mutual respect their top priority for the second year in a row (closely followed by antitrust contact with competitors). Notably, anti-bribery appears among the top three most-popular training priorities for companies in all size categories.

The complete version of Integrity Interactive’s “2007 Corporate Ethics & Compliance Study,” which has been conducted yearly since 2000, describes and quantifies the emergence of the “compliance curriculum” approach to compliance risk management, as more and more companies require employees to complete compliance-training in multiple risk areas over a two- to three-year period.

Source: Integrity Interactive Corp.

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