Authored by: Dr Mark Bussin, Exco Member of the South African Reward Association (SARA)
December 9th is International Anti-Corruption Day, an annual event created by the United Nations in 2003 to raise awareness about corruption and how to fight it.
Dr. Mark Bussin, Master Reward Specialist and Executive Committee Member at the South African Reward Association (SARA) and Chair of 21st Century, says reward practitioners are duty-bound to combat corruption along with the rest of society. “In fact,” he states, “their efforts are even more significant because they are responsible for a key area of public concern, that is, the fair and equitable remuneration of employees and executives.”
Transparency International defines corruption generally as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain". At a more fundamental level, something is considered to be corrupted when it is intentionally or unintentionally reduced from a desired state to an undesirable one.
According to Dr. Bussin, the only true way to negate this effect is through moral reflection. “Corruption is not always an immediate condition but can be a weakening of principles and boundaries over time,” he says. “Reward practitioners must therefore have the courage to introspect themselves, their work and their organisation’s ethical posture, and decide to take corrective action where necessary.”
It’s easy to become corrupted by small compromises, maybe for fear of losing a client or having one’s career sidelined. Every reward practitioner must regularly and honestly re-evaluate their conduct against their profession’s ethical standards, and recommit themselves to honour those codes if they have slipped.
Likewise, reward programmes may seem ideal during conception. But always be willing to audit them after implementation to make sure they remain fair, equitable and ethical as the enterprise evolves.
Good governance considers not what is governed but the manner in which it is governed. This suggests that something can be successfully managed, though not in a responsible or ethical way. Does your organisation continue to adhere to good governance principles and practices, especially in terms of rewards, or has it devolved into lip service?
Continuous professional development
To ensure the best conduct from oneself and one’s organisation, ethics and good governance must be reviewed frequently, lest they be forgotten. So they should be a central component of the rewards practitioner’s commitment to lifelong learning.
Every organisation should have a formal whistleblowing process in place that assures anonymity and protection. Reward practitioners can promote this as part of their reward programmes, equal to wellness or location incentives, to attract desirable job candidates. After all, who wouldn’t want to work for a company that holds itself accountable?
An incorruptible culture
In some instances, corruption becomes the new norm among those conspiring to reap undeserved benefits, making it seem acceptable - even desirable - to conform. Reward practitioners can help develop a workplace culture where corruption is never tolerable but is readily exposed.
On International Anti-Corruption Day, reward practitioners at all levels should take the time to reflect on ways to reduce corruption in their areas of responsibility and organisation. “It is the ideal opportunity to reconnect with our highest values,” concludes Dr. Bussin.
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