by Edel Mapile (BCBP Manila)
The NAC33 slogan “Change the Face of Business” is indeed timely and reminded me of what I learned last year when I participated in the conference SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) as a Major Force in Promoting Integrity and Accountability in Business organized by Ramon del Rosario Sr’s HILLs Program on Governance in July 2012. I had made a time for it as I found the topics interesting, relevant and necessary. Little did I realize how very relevant it would be in light of BCBP’s focus on Changing the Face of Business.
My husband, Francis, and I run a specialty construction business on electrical services and supplies. We dream of a Philippines wherein our business can go through the normal process of operation without compromising our Christian values.
The conference topics – Corruption an Impediment to Development, Taking on the Challenge of Operating a Business without Corruption, Addressing Corruption Vulnerabilities in Procurement, Finding Common Ground with the BIR, Levelling the Playing Field for Businesses, Streamlining Processes for Business Permits and Licenses, Reforming the Bureau of Customs, Maximizing the Potential of SMEs as a Driving Force of the Economy and Doing Business with Integrity – covered the areas of concern every entrepreneur wishes to address.
Complementing these raging topics were credible panelists and moderators – AIM Chairman Emeritus Washington Sicip, DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo, NEDA Director-General Arsenio Balisacan, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, Secretary Jesse Robredo among other active players and stakeholders in the industries covered by SMEs. By the way, SMEs cover businesses with assets 3.000001 M -15M employing 1-9 persons (small) and 15.000001M-100M assets with 100-199 employees(medium). SMEs make up 99.6% of all businesses in the country, according to DTI.
Allow me to share with you some insights from the Conference panel discussions and the Anti-Corruption Manual by HILLS Program on Governance. These initiatives emphasize the promotion of integrity and accountability in business :
Corruption has been one of the biggest impediments to economic growth and prosperity in the Philippines and has been eroding the moral fiber of this society. From the study made by the World Economic Forum 2010-2011, the most problematic factor for doing business in the Philippines is corruption.
The owners or managers of established businesses in the Philippines acknowledge their companies’ responsibility to lead by example in the fight against corruption and to operate their businesses ethically and with integrity.
While the government has its own initiatives for reducing corruption, those initiatives cannot succeed without individual and collective commitment from businesses to level the playing field and to build integrity in the business environment.
In view of the forgoing, the participants committed to the following initiatives:
Prohibit bribery in any form in all activities under our control and ensure that our charitable and political contributions, business gifts, and sponsorships are transparent and will not be for the purpose of attempting to influence the recipient, whether government or private, into an improper exercise of functions, duties and judgment.
Maintain a code of conduct to guide our employees towards ethical and accountable behavior at all times, and will apply appropriate sanctions for violations of the code.
Conduct training programs for our employees to promote integrity, honesty and accountability in the exercise of their duties and responsibilities and to convey with resolve our company’s commitment to ethical business practices.
Implement appropriate internal systems and controls to prevent unethical conduct by our employees, ensure good governance, and institutionalize the values of integrity and accountability in our business.
Maintain appropriate financial reporting mechanisms that are accurate and transparent.
Maintain channels by which employees and other stakeholders can raise ethical concerns and report suspicious circumstances in confidence without risk of reprisal, and a designated officer will be tasked with investigating all reports received.
Enter into integrity pacts with other businesses and with government agencies when dealing with procedures related to the bidding and procurement of supplies, materials, equipment and construction.
Refrain from engaging in business with parties who have demonstrated unethical business practices.
The business groups also agreed to share best practices, tools and concepts to be used by all participating entities to achieve the goals of the nationwide initiative.
Sharing this first with my business partner, my husband, we realized that this is a big battle that we choose to fight – changing the face of business. The path is not one of least resistance, the journey seems like it will take forever, but with God nothing is impossible!