38% of Poles perceive corruption as a serious problem in our country, according to EY data. This is much less than in Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, the scale of this phenomenon is still alarmingly large - about 25 percent of employees admit that they are ready to give a bribe if it allows to maintain business relations. However, research shows that corruption practices are unprofitable in the long term: penalties can plunge the business, and corruption itself has a negative impact on employees. Nearly half consider leaving work if the company is suspected of unethical practices.

- According to Transparency International 2016, the aspect of corruption in Poland is improving from year to year. Currently we are ranked 29th out of 176 countries. Similarly, according to the latest EY research, the employees of companies state that corruption is less of a problem than a year ago or a few years ago - stresses Jakub Bejnarowicz, head of CIMA in Central and Eastern Europe, in an interview with Newseria Biznes news agency.

The EY 2017 report "Human instinct or machine logic - why do you trust more in the fight against corruption and abuse?" shows that fewer and fewer Poles perceive corruption as a big problem in our country. This is indicated by 38% of people, with 59% in 2013 and 43% in 2015. For comparison, the average for the whole CEE region is 64%.

- The World Bank said that the problem of corruption in 2016 has significantly increased compared to what it was in the last five years. According to him, corruption accounts for 5 percent of the world's GDP, which gives about a trillion dollars. It is the one, as if suddenly the GDP of Germany evaporated from the world economy. Proportionally, it is as if the annual budget of Warsaw and Krakow suddenly evaporated in Poland,' the head of CIMA in Central and Eastern Europe analyses.

Although it happens that cases of corruption are swept under the carpet, companies realize that in the long run it is unprofitable.

- Harvard Bussines School concluded, on the basis of its research, that corrupt practices do not pay off in the long term because the profit is practically zero, and if the irregularity comes to light, the penalties can plunge the company," says Jakub Bejnarowicz.

According to CIMA calculations, corruption increases the costs of running a company by about 10 percent. Moreover, if the corruption comes to light, companies have to reckon with high costs. The index of foreign and corruption law enforcement indicates that in 2016, 27 companies paid almost USD 2.5 billion in penalties for committing corrupt activities.

- However, we still have big challenges ahead of us. About 25% of employees admit that they are ready to give a bribe to maintain business relations. Half of the respondents stated that they do not inform about such phenomena because they fear for their safety. Nearly 70 percent of the respondents said that their manager or management board would be ready to abuse them to obtain short-term results - indicates Bejnarowicz.

Corruption in Poland

According to the EY data, the representatives of the Y generation are mainly prone to economic abuse and unethical behaviour. Over 70% admit that unethical behaviour can be explained if it helps a company to survive the crisis. Half of them say that their co-workers would be ready for abuse to speed up their careers. On the other hand, about 50 percent of employees would not report abuse in the company for reasons of their safety.

According to a study by the CIMA Institute "Anti-corruption landscape 2017", every third person who reports unprofessional behaviour at work encounters ostracism. 40% of employees feel pressure from colleagues to bend standards.

In order to deal with the phenomenon of corruption, companies are increasingly implementing codes of conduct and ethics, which are intended as a roadmap for employees.

- It all depends on the people managing the organisations, on introducing appropriate codes of ethics, corporate governance, on promoting appropriate behaviour in the organisation, monitoring and controlling. A big role is played by financiers who deal with information that comes not only from financial departments but also from the company's environment and are able to catch irregularities using new technologies. Risk assessment is important, and without it we will not be able to control it," says Jakub Bejnarowicz.

CIMA initiates many activities related to improving practices in companies, organizes trainings and lectures for young financiers. It engages in activities aimed at fighting the dark side of business, e.g. by systematizing the Global Management Accounting Principles.

- Together with our American partner, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, we have created a guide for financiers on how they should act to eliminate any abuse of companies. Our members are committed to high ethical standards. We do everything to create a roadmap for financiers. The more companies and organisations will invest in qualifications and skills of this type, the greater the chances of success for the company and the economy - convinces Jakub Bejnarowicz.

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