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Anti-bribery and corruption - ISO 37001, a ray of hope as an international benchmark of good corporate governance.

Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2022 was released a couple of weeks ago and provides interesting insights when compared to the latest ISO Survey of Certifications, released in late 2022.

Once again, the CPI has brought to the forefront the issue of corruption on a global scale. It evaluates and ranks 180 nations based on their perceived levels of corruption in the public sector, with scores that range from 0 (signifying high levels of corruption) to 100 (indicating low levels of corruption). Unfortunately, the latest CPI reveals that most countries are failing to curb corruption, with 124 countries showing significant inertia in their improvement and an increasing number of countries worsening. This disheartening result shouldn't come as much of a surprise given the tumultuous times experienced globally over the past few years, including the COVID-19 pandemic response and growing security threats.

On the other hand, the latest ISO Survey of Certifications provides a glimmer of hope, particularly in regards to ISO 37001:2016, an international standard for anti-bribery management systems that can be applied by organisations regardless of type, size, and nature of activity. 

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The Survey suggests a noticeable increase in the adoption of ISO 37001 as an anti-bribery management systems standard. Indeed, a correlation (albeit slight) can be found between the ISO Survey of Certifications and the CPI, where countries with public or private entities holding accredited certification to ISO 37001 have performed better on average than countries with no businesses adopting the standard or proving their adoption of the international standard for good governance through third-party certification. This correlation is evident in the mean move for countries with no certifications being -0.38 (downward), and the average move for countries with one or more certified entities (some countries have certified entities in the hundreds!) is -0.22 (down).

It's essential to keep in mind that, just as statistical outliers over a short period of time can skew the numbers, it will take a few more years of results to see if a positive trend indeed emerges. Despite this, the ISO Survey of Certifications offers a ray of hope and suggests that some regions that have seen greater adoption of the ISO 37001 Anti-bribery Management System Standard may also have seen some positive societal outcomes.

In conclusion, the 2022 Corruption Perception Index reveals the persistent corruption challenges faced by numerous countries globally. However, the ISO Survey of Certifications provides optimism with the growing adoption of ISO 37001 and a possible emergence of a correlation between certifications to ISO 37001 and improved scores in the CPI.


(The thoughts here are merely echoes of the rambling mind of Ian Beers, Performance Director, and MSS Global’s lead for Anti-Bribery and Corruption Management Systems)

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