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Countering corruption while protecting yourself and your business
October 26, 2022

By Grace Zimlich

Countering corruption and reducing the spread of misinformation and disinformation should be priorities for every business. Fostering and maintaining ethical business practices while participating as an opponent of corruption is more important than ever. 

The YLAI Network spoke with Luis V. Villaherrera, a 2022 YLAI Alumni and founder of Tracoda, an organization that seeks to strengthen democracy in El Salvador, to get some insight into the importance of anti-corruption efforts. Tracoda “focuses on promoting transparency, respect for human rights, and generating technology for the benefit of citizens.” Read on for more ways you can work to counter corruption while protecting yourself and your business. 

Why is it important for entrepreneurs to fight corruption?

Corruption can severely affect small businesses economically and reputationally. Corruption creates an unbalanced allocation of resources, many of which are already scarce for small businesses and in certain regions. Corruption also lowers investment and seriously impedes economic growth. 

Where corruption is rampant, it can be discouraging to openly speak out against it. Many may even feel more comfortable succumbing due to fear of retaliation. With the following resources, business owners and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to develop safer and more ethical business practices, allowing them the space to speak out for those who aren’t yet able. Small businesses are the future, and with the confidence to combat corruption safely, we all play a role in ensuring that ethical business practices define our future as well. 

          Why do you believe citizen participation and anti-corruption efforts are so important?   

Luis V.: When a government takes away civic spaces and voices that seek transparency, democracy, and participation, that is where corruption can rise. Every country should have the freedom to speak out and be loud about things that citizens don’t like or want to change. Democracy is about that. 

When a country shuts down civic spaces, participation and democracy suffer and corruption rises. Having the freedom to speak about possible cases of corruption in a government is part of a healthy democracy. Corruption affects everything in a citizen’s life, from health care to education, and not having space to talk and be loud about it makes the silence reign.

            How can individuals work to counter misinformation and corruption? 

Luis V.: Misinformation and disinformation have a greater impact than real and well-sourced news. The thing is that most people do not think that fake news or disinformation affects them on a daily basis; however, that’s not true. News that isn’t correct can affect your business and your life and can impact them negatively. 

I don’t have the answer, just advice for the people who work fighting fake news and disinformation. Everyone should take the message wider and louder in order for more people to understand the danger we are facing with disinformation. 

Thank you, Luis, for your insight!

Resources to learn more about anti-corruption tactics:

  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently debuted a Business Integrity Portal to help businesses curb the spread of corruption and misinformation. The Business Integrity Portal allows businesses to communicate and learn directly and indirectly through a governmental agency, which is extremely important because these processes and initiatives have been created to protect business owners and civilians alike. 
  • Learn how to decipher fake news from real information with Harmony Square, a unique game developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, with DROG, a Dutch media collective, and the University of Cambridge. 
  • Better understand the role your business has in a corrupt environment and how to better maintain your ethical standards and reputation from the Harvard Business Review while resisting corruption and bribery. 
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Guide to Countering Corruption Across Sectors has detailed information on anti-corruption approaches, including detection, while focusing on whistleblower and reporting processes and protections.  

While it’s important to be preemptive about corruption, it’s equally important to consistently reflect on yourself as a leader and a change-maker. Head to YLAI for Integrity for more articles and a new online course on anti-corruption and avoiding misinformation.