Dissecting WEF's 4 Pillars of Business Integrity

The World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Transparency and Anti-Corruption met last year in Dubai to work on an agenda for business integrity.

The goal of the agenda, according to Alison Taylor, executive director of Ethical Systems and a member of the council, was “to advance the private sector’s position beyond narrow legal compliance efforts, and toward considering and tackling the systemic, societal impacts of corruption and illicit finance.”

Corruption costs the world economy an estimated 5% of GDP each year, or about $3.6 trillion, according to WEF. If corruption were eliminated, WEF believes the savings would cover the cost of implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which would lead to faster progress toward meaningful solutions to challenges such as climate change and the elimination of extreme poverty.

As part of the global fight against corruption, the Global Future Council on Transparency and Anti-Corruption developed its agenda for business integrity into four intersecting pillars, with the purpose of providing “a clearly defined and practical agenda for businesses to pursue integrity.”

The four pillars, as explained by Taylor, are:

  • Commit to ethics and integrity beyond compliance. This frames the imperative for why companies need to commit to ethics and integrity beyond the exercise of mere compliance, and discusses the transformational forces in society that have brought us to this point. This pillar looks at the rise in political and social activism, the growth of ESG investing, hyper-transparency, how and where human rights and anti-corruption converge, the need for supply-chain oversight, and the shift in societal values and expectations.
  • Strengthen corporate culture and incentives to drive continuous learning and improvement. This pillar takes a closer look at corporate culture and incentives, and argues for a better understanding of human behavior and organizational psychology in organizational integrity efforts.
  • Leverage technologies. The third pillar discusses the role of technology in reducing corruption, and takes a specific look in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. New capabilities in analytics and technology may provide opportunities to address business integrity, but open up new chances for corruption and financial crime.
  • Support collective action to increase scale and impact. The final pillar outlines why the anti-corruption community needs to leverage collective action to address systemic challenges. As Taylor notes, the human rights community has made substantive progress on collective action, and now is the time for the anti-corruption and transparency community to do the same.

For the full white paper on each pillar, please visit: Pillar One, Pillar Two, Pillar Three, Pillar Four.