Globally, it is approximated that more than $1.5 trillion is exchanged in illicit bribes annually. Beyond the detrimental economic consequences, bribery also exerts a profound influence on society by eroding trust, perpetuating unfairness, fostering inequality, and diminishing motivation. In response to these challenges, ISO has joined the global crusade against bribery through the creation of ISO 37001, an international standard that establishes the prerequisites for an anti-bribery management system (ABMS).

What is ISO 37001?

ISO 37001, introduced in 2016 as a Type A management system standard (MSS), outlines the specifications and offers guidance for establishing, implementing, overseeing, sustaining, and perpetually enhancing an Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS).

An ABMS structured in accordance with ISO 37001 is designed to aid organizations in efficiently averting, detecting, and responding to bribery. It’s important to note that the standard does not encompass other forms of corruption, such as fraud. These requirements are broad and applicable to all organizations, irrespective of their size, type, and sector (public, private, or not-for-profit). Additionally, ISO 37001 can be employed to address bribery involving or directed at the organization, encompassing both direct and indirect bribery scenarios.

ISO 37001 adheres to the High-Level Structure (HLS) and shares common terminology with other management system standards developed by ISO. This means that an ABMS can be established as a standalone management system, integrated into an overarching compliance management system based on ISO 37301, or harmonized with other management systems based on standards such as ISO 37002, ISO 9001, and ISO 45001.

Benefits of ISO 37001 for Organizations

Implementing an ABMS based on ISO 37001 can be a strategic choice for organizations to showcase their commitment to proactively preventing, detecting, and addressing bribery. Organizations striving for an effective ABMS will need to demonstrate their dedication to averting bribery by instituting policies, procedures, and controls that reduce bribery risks. The generic nature of ISO 37001 allows organizations the flexibility to tailor an ABMS to their specific needs.

Some of the benefits organizations can derive from implementing an ABMS based on ISO 37001 include:

  • Enhanced capability to uncover, forestall, and address bribery within or involving the organization.
  • The opportunity to obtain ABMS certification through an assessment from an accredited conformity assessment body.
  • The establishment of procedures facilitating proper due diligence of potential personnel and business associates.
  • The opportunity to contribute to the global anti-bribery effort.
  • The capacity to influence, enhance, or reshape an organization’s culture.
  • Improved preparedness to respond, mitigate, and manage the repercussions in the event of a bribery incident.
  • In certain jurisdictions, the existence of an internal mechanism for addressing bribery issues can lead to reduced penalties in cases of misconduct.
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