Majority of Companies Say ESG is Important in Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) Programs, but Creates More Challenges than Benefits

  • 54% of global respondents indicated that ESG creates more challenges than benefits for the compliance function
  • 51% of respondents would rate their ABC programs as highly effective, with the U.S. and Canada most confident at 66%
  • While 72% of respondents felt they had sufficient technology to address current challenges, only 36% were using an automated solution to help the due diligence process.
  • 46% of respondents indicated that cyber security and data breaches are the top reason for increased risk.

New York – Kroll, the world’s premier provider of services and digital products related to governance, risk and transparency, today released its 2021 Anti-Bribery and Corruption Benchmarking Report, which found that almost three-fourths (70%) of survey respondents indicated that environmental, social and governance (ESG) should be included in ABC programs, however only 54% indicated that it’s currently included in their organizations program. The report highlights results of a survey of 200 senior compliance and risk professionals from around the world to gain their unique perspective on the global anti-bribery and corruption landscape in 2021.

ESG factors have taken the spotlight in recent years as companies and investors acknowledge that they can no longer ignore the externalities and internal processes of their partner companies. Yet, despite the majority of survey respondents agreeing that ESG should be part of compliance programs and that ABC programs create opportunities for good governance, 54% of global respondents also indicated that ESG creates more challenges than benefits for the compliance function. In both the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions these numbers were higher at 64%, likely because the number of respondents who have attempted to implement ESG into their ABC programs is also higher. Similarly, the U.S. and Canada’s limited uptake of ESG in their ABC programs could explain why U.S.- and Canadian-based respondents have faced the lowest number of challenges at 34% so far.

Important findings highlight that compliance officers are now evaluating their compliance programs as generally effective (51%); but 71% of respondents feel that the compliance role will take on increased responsibilities in 2021. The new reality of remote working and increasing digital interconnectivity has created a multitude of risks for all aspects of an enterprise, and the compliance function has been no different. Of the professionals surveyed, 46% believe that cyber security and data breaches are the top reason for increased risk, stressing the importance of cyber hygiene and secure technology platforms.

“The findings from our survey highlight the increasing responsibilities of compliance officers, which have been compounded by remote working, supply chain disruptions and other challenges,” said Steven Bock, Global Head of Compliance Risk and Diligence at Kroll. “As ABC programs continue to evolve, the need to leverage technology, including automated processes for due diligence, has never been greater.”

Survey respondents identified several challenges in the due diligence process, which automation, including artificial intelligence (AI), may be able to solve. The top three most valuable attributes of automation technology were a centralized platform, finding the most relevant information and improved quality of due diligence. While only 36% currently use automation to help with their due diligence, 45% of respondents hope to incorporate it in the next 12-36 months, proving that there is value in using technology to address some of these pain points. The results from our survey make one thing clear—the role of the compliance function to safeguard their organizations against risk has never been more vital.

Methodology
Kroll commissioned a survey of 200 senior professionals from around the world, to gain their unique perspective on global anti-bribery and corruption program expectations in 2021 and catalogued those survey results to create the 2021 Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) Benchmarking report. The research was conducted via an anonymous survey in January 2021.

About Kroll
Kroll is the world’s premier provider of services and digital products related to governance, risk and transparency. We work with clients across diverse sectors in the areas of valuation, expert services, investigations, cyber security, corporate finance, restructuring, legal and business solutions, data analytics and regulatory compliance. Our firm has nearly 5,000 professionals in 30 countries and territories around the world. For more information, visit www.kroll.com.

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