‘We talk about corruption as a concept, but in practice, it’s driven by human behaviour.’

A brief AretéThoughts Q&A with Christian Hunt

What one thing would you change about anti-corruption regulation or enforcement?

We talk about corruption as a concept, but in practice, it’s driven by human behaviour. I’d like to see solutions that reflect this. We often think of “bad” people who intentionally set out to do “bad” things, but there’s far more complexity to this.

Of course, there are intentional wrongdoers, but there are also people who, for understandable reasons, get swept up in corrupt practices that are going on around them.

There’s a world of difference between a criminal mastermind and someone who accepts a bribe to be able to feed their family. I don’t have specific answers, but I think we need to move beyond enforcement to deal with some of the root causes of corruption – there are very real issues that drive otherwise “good” people to do “bad” things. We shouldn’t be surprised that in a world of huge inequality, that we see corruption.

On that note, my second wish is that we’d address kleptocratic practices. Cities like London, that ostensibly promote order and the rule of law, effectively allow corruption to flourish elsewhere. We need to address that as a matter of urgency.

What is your current favourite book or podcast, and why?

I’ll avoid promoting the Human Risk podcast (available wherever you get your quality audio content) and instead highlight Spectacular Failures – a show that explores things that have gone spectacularly wrong. That might be companies with questionable business models or just one-off examples of really poor decision-making that had major consequences. The key focus is on things that have gone badly wrong and what we can learn from it. Host Lauren Ober approaches her subject with a sense of fun and curiosity that is infectious and engaging.

Book-wise, as well as Tom Burgis’ Kleptopia (that deals with the corruption issues I highlighted in my earlier answer), I loved John Cleese’s recent book on Creativity. It’s a quick read that highlights some of the things he uses when he’s creative. Lots of practical tips, fun stories and, for anyone whose job involves creativity (so that’s anyone except those in safety-critical industries), it highlights some excellent practical ideas.

What action could a company take that would make a difference to successful recovery from the pandemic?

I think the pandemic offers the perfect opportunity for companies to think about what they are doing and whether their business model still makes sense. Of course, some business models didn’t actually make sense pre-pandemic!

So it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on what a company is there to do – its purpose – and how it goes about doing it. What COVID has exposed are inefficiencies, flawed presumptions and perceived wisdom that actually wasn’t so wise. I think we can learn from this experience and challenge orthodox thinking – if you’re having to make changes because of COVID, then you’ve got the opportunity to think about what other changes you could make.

Equally, I think it’s a good time to “read the room” and recognise social, environmental and ethical dynamics. Many business practices might be legal, but that doesn’t make them right. Thinking about how you run your business is important. Companies can no longer operate in a vacuum – transparency and stakeholder activism are powerful forces that will drive change. Much better to embrace this than try to pursue legacy strategies.

Follow Christian on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn – and subscribe to his podcast on Spotify (or wherever you get your audio).

Kalifa FinTech Report: Ethics mentioned in passing, and only once…

The Independent report on the UK Fintech sector by Ron Kalifa OBE has just been released by HM Treasury. My quick take in the context of Ethical Business Regulation:

The call for close working between the regulator and the regulated makes sense – as they suggest through ‘enhancing the Regulatory Sandbox, making permanent the digital sandbox pilot, introducing measures to support partnering between incumbents and fintech and regtech firms, and providing additional support for regulated firms in the
growth phase

The comprehensive call for skills development is also welcome – 86 mentions no less across the report. And timely beyond FinTech of course (e.g. the World Economic Forum call for building a common language for skills).

Sobering is the fact that ethics is mentioned in passing, and only once. WireCard won’t be the last… There’s real and significant work to do here. Here’s a primer on Ethical Business Practice and Ethical Business Regulation for the taking.

Last but not least, the call for a Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology is interesting. Does it risk duplicating efforts from the Centre for Financial Technology & Innovation at Leeds, the Centre for Alternative Finance at Cambridge etc. etc. I do hope they’ll coordinate with UK Research & Innovation.

Find the full report for your own reading here:

2021 World Values Day

Just in from our friends at World Values Day:

Our theme this year is Reconnecting.  We are all living through a time of enormous uncertainty and disruption. This has been very hard for all of us. A time of upheaval is also an opportunity to deepen our understanding of values and how they connect us with our sense of self, with others, and with the wider world.

So this World Values Day let’s use our values to reconnect with one another and with what matters most in our lives.

Join the conversation at #WorldValuesDay – and learn more at worldvaluesday.com/

COVID-19: Crisis or Opportunity for Corporate Culture?

Implications for Why and How Ethics and Compliance Should Thrive in This Evolving World

• Assess culture and use the information to build new paradigms
• Shift role of functions, including ethics & compliance, to more collaborative work focused on corporate purpose
• Help leaders better communicate in a time when new working practices demand quality leadership



Moderator – Sally March – Director, Drummond March Ltd.

Sally March

Sally March is an international lawyer and Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional based in London. Sally is adjunct professor at IE School of Law in Madrid where she teaches Compliance and Internal Controls. She conducts compliance program reviews and advises FTSE 100 companies on international ethics and compliance programs

Panel – Jane Mitchell | Robert W Smith | Ruth Steinholz

Jane Mitchell

Jane Mitchell, Founder, JL & M

Jane’s passion is to challenge leaders to be courageous enough to hear, listen and act in ways that drive values-based cultures and to encourage people to understand that you need more than just words, process and controls to sustain success. Jane has worked with a number of FTSE 100 global companies, which include: Rolls-Royce plc, BAE Systems, BP, Tesco, Serco and Airbus, Cooperative Bank and BT. Jane is also a Director of leading engagement agency Karian and Box, and is the current World Conference Chair for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

Robert Smith

Robert W. Smith, Director Business Compliance and Ethics, Serco Group plc

Robert is a Chartered Director and Lifetime Fellow of the Institute of Directors where he sits on the Accreditation and Standards Committee and a Lay Trustee on the Board of the Royal College of Pathologists. Current responsibilities cover ethics and elements of ethical compliance covering business conduct and standards of behaviour, anti-corruption and competitive behaviour and human rights, and corporate responsibility.

…and yours truly. I hope to see you there. View the conference brochure – and stay tuned using #SCCE & #SCCEecei – and help spread the word.

2021 European Compliance & Ethics Institute

Though we are all disappointed we will not be together in-person, SCCE remains dedicated to providing a first-class learning experience while keeping the health and well being of everyone a top priority. 

The 2021 European Compliance & Ethics Institute will have the great speakers and content you’ve come to expect at the in-person event. Learn about the challenges facing the global compliance & ethics community from the comfort of your desk. This is the place to find out about the latest solutions to your compliance and ethics issues.

ECEI’s educational sessions will provide you with the opportunity to earn live Compliance Certification Board (CCB)® Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the convenience of your home or office.  Learn more about Continuing Education

Hot Topics for 2021

  • Anti-Corruption
  • Pandemic Learnings
  • Crisis Management
  • Data Protection
  • Implementing Global Trade Compliance
  • Investigations
  • Risk Management

Who Should Attend

  • Compliance and Ethics Professionals
  • In-house and Outside Counsel
  • Audit Managers/Officers
  • Information and Privacy Officers
  • Regulators and Other Government Personnel
  • Risk Managers
  • Corporate Executives and Leaders
  • Researchers and Policy Makers
  • Human Resource Managers

Stay tuned using #SCCE & #SCCEecei – and help spread the word. Here’s one to get you started:

Building a Common Language for Skills

Sometimes it is the basics that matter most. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently published its A Global Taxonomy, Building a Common Language for Skills at Work. It does nothing less than outline the skills, attitudes and abilities required for the future of work.

The WEF estimates that 50% of all employees will need new skills by 2025!

WEF Building a Common Language for Skills at Work A Global Taxonomy Facts
WEF Building a Common Language for Skills at Work A Global Taxonomy Facts

The Global Taxonomy is a valuable resource to support the “Reskilling Revolution” they envision and that will be more successful if done in a conscious way, guided by thought leadership such as this.

In Ethical Business Practice and Regulation, we highlighted the need for regulators to develop new skills. As clipboard tick-the-box-compliance is shown to be largely ineffective and beyond the resources of most global regulators, a more mature risk based approach must emerge. Regulators who can assess culture and work in a more cooperative way with those organisations who demonstrate a commitment to an ethical culture will be more successful. Regulators and businesses share a common goal: successful businesses in well functioning markets contributing to social well being and net zero goals.

The WEF recognises certain attitudes that underpin these common goals including:

Ethical Leadership: Carrying out workplace activities according to accepted principles of right and wrong, including fairness, transparency and impartiality in work practices and conduct towards other people. — Source Industry and learning provider consultations.

Building Trust: Creating a culture that enables team members to rely on each other.

Explore the interactive taxanomy at reskillingrevolution2030.org/

Now if you would like to learn more about how regulators can begin their own reskilling revolution, then ping me.

Compliance is the outcome

Join top legal professionals with discussion on the latest developments – at the Global Life Sciences Law Conference. The conference, which will take place virtually over two days in March.

Session on Day 1: Compliance is the outcome of an effective ethical culture

How to achieve balance so that compliance does not undermine ethical behaviour:

  • What are the implications of the interaction between ethics and compliance?
  • How can values and ethics create the foundation for effective compliance?
  • Beyond policies and processes: how to assess and influence culture?
  • The legal leadership challenge – leaders face conflicting needs: building a just, open culture and protecting the company against litigation risks. Can these be reconciled?

I hope to see you there.

Register your interest and reserve your tickets for the event by contacting Michael Taylor, at michael@ctclegalmedia.com or call on +44 203 654 1868

Other speakers include

George Peretz QC, Monckton Chambers
George Peretz QC, Monckton Chambers

Keynote Speaker – Day 1

George Peretz has acted in many key competition cases involving and affecting the pharmaceutical industry, for the commission and General Court and European Court of Justice. He has extensive expertise and experience of advising on and litigating pharmaceutical regulatory issues. He has also represented the United kingdom government in the ECJ.

Mark Engelman QC
Mark Engelman QC

Speaker: day 1, session 2

Mark is a high profile Intellectual Property Barrister,  and has expertise with patents and trademarks and has worked cases with brands like Astrazeneca, GSK, and Apple. Mark has a degree in pharmacology which gives a unique advantage when advising pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Sir Robin Jacob
Sir Robin Jacob

Keynote Speaker – Day 2

Sir Robin is a former Lord Justice of Appeal, having practiced at the International Property Bar from 1967. Between 1976 and 1981 he was the junior counsel for the Comptroller of Patents and for the government department in intellectual property. Sir Jacob was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1981. He has practiced abroad often, including in Hong King, Singapore, Europe, the USA, and Australia.

Sir Jacob was appointed to the bench in 1993 and from the outset was a designated patent judge. From 1997 to 2001 he was supervising Chancery Judge for Birmingham, Bristol, and Cardiff. He was appointed as Lord Justice of Appeal in October 2003.  He continued to sit from time to time in the Court of Appeal until April 2015. He acts as an arbitrator, mediator, and expert witness on English and European law.

Rameet Sangha
Rameet Sangha

Speaker: day 2, session 5

Rameet Sangha is a Senior Vice President at Compass Lexecon, based in London.

Rameet is a professional competition economist with over 20 years of experience advising clients on a range of competition matters: mergers, market investigations, abuse of dominance, vertical agreements, competition litigation, and damages assessment.

Rameet has experience across a range of industries, with particular expertise in life sciences and financial services.

See the full programme

2021 World Economic Forum

So many sessions, so little time. If you only have time for one, here’s a session related to the broader debate around Ethical Business Practice:

Stakeholder Capitalism: Building the Future

Speakers: Edward FelsenthalMariana MazzucatoKlaus SchwabAlexander De CrooAngelique KidjoDan Schulman

Further sessions that may be of interest…

Implementing Stakeholder Capitalism

Reorienting Boards for the Long Term

Reassessing Corporate Risks and Reinforcing Resilience in a Post-COVID World

Find the full programme: weforum.org/events/the-davos-agenda-2021 – and if you’re getting some fresh air (whilst keeping good distance) you might prefer a format without video: Radio Davos.