Engaging stakeholders in new or expanding Collective Action initiatives

1. Listening and speaking the language of business

Listening and speaking with knowledge of specific industry sectors helps to build trust with business people. Consider that decision-makers, lawyers and compliance officers may respond to different business-relevant issues and keywords according to their areas of work and experiences.

“In our context, using the word corruption can frighten stakeholders off. A softer approach might use integrity or compliance or fair competition.”

– Marie-Laure Pegie Cauchois, UNDOC Myanmar

An example of business talking to business on the same level was given by the Turkish Ethics and Reputation Society, TEİD. Listening to its wide range of corporate members – over 150 companies, representing more than 15 percent of Turkey’s GDP – helps to shape the content and communication of its initiatives. It also works with international and local chambers of commerce and professional associations.

The Association de la Construction du Québec (ACQ) developed an Integrity Program for its members in line with its deep knowledge of the construction industry and its flaws. It consulted with members through surveys and focus groups before launching the Program.

2. From “name and shame” to “name and praise”

Highlighting positive role models may be more effective than shaming companies that don’t make the grade.

"We like to point to positive examples of companies that make progress. Success stories are more inspiring than criticism. That's why we use the term name and praise, not name and shame." 

- Tetiana Kheruvimova. Tetiana worked collaboratively with the EBRD and the OECD on development of the Ukrainian Network of Integrity and Compliance (UNIC), initiated in 2017 in Ukraine, to promote the idea of doing business ethically.

Nigeria’s Corporate Governance Rating System (CGRS) lists directors that have passed the CGRS Fiduciary Awareness Certification Test on an “honour roll” on its website. This is something directors and companies can use to demonstrate their high ethical standards. It also adds to the pressure on those missing from the list.

3. Positive peer pressure

It’s natural to want to keep up with competitors – or stay ahead if you’re ahead. Providing companies with a way to benchmark and compare their compliance progress against other members can help to trigger action.

Many practitioners note that positive peer pressure can also be an incentive. Once companies see their peers obtaining results and talking about them publicly, it’s easier to get them involved.

The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) offers each corporate member a self-evaluation form and dashboard that highlights how the company is doing in relation to its peers. This has been a powerful motivation for many companies to progress the implementation of their compliance programmes.

4. A clear, business-relevant focus

Focusing on business-relevant issues and tangible results will help engage private-sector stakeholders. Communicating clearly about what your initiative will and won’t do can help to manage expectations.

The Alliance for Integrity’s “Integrity Journey” in Argentina, Brazil and India is designed to demonstrate the link between integrity/compliance and business objectives. See these videos from Argentina and Brazil.

“The Ethics Institute develops Collective Action initiatives with a clear purpose and understanding of benefits for participants.” – Deon Rossouw, Chief Executive Director, The Ethics Institute

5. Referencing external indices

Connecting your initiative’s goals with external assessments may help attract the attention of government actors as well as the local media.

Relevant areas might be a country’s position on indices such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the Basel Institute’s Basel AML Index or the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

6. Windows of opportunity

Sometimes, changes in laws and the economy can open a window of opportunity to get an initiative off the ground.

In Argentina, a 2017 law on corporate criminal liability encourages companies to develop robust compliance programmes in order to mitigate the risk of financial and legal liabilities or fines. This opens a window of opportunity for Collective Action such as the Virtuous Alliance initiative of Poder Ciudadano.

7. Practical tools

If your initiative aims to set or improve standards, it is helpful to give members tools to help them achieve this.

The Alliance for Integrity offers a range of practical tools to help engage members. These include the #TheIntegrityApp and a “No excuses” pocket guide for businesses faced with corrupt demands.

The Global Compact Network Brazil initiative on integrity in the construction and engineering sector found it helpful to offer practical learning tools to members in English and Portuguese.


Of course, these are just examples of what other practitioners have found effective. It very much depends on the context of your initiative and what you’re trying to achieve. Here are a few general things to think about:

  • What are the key issues for stakeholders?
  • What keywords will attract attention – or turn people off?
  • How are you communicating what your initiative will and won’t do?
  • What are the main incentives for different stakeholders?
  • What practical tools can you offer?

If you want to talk over any of this, we’re happy to act as a sounding board. It’s our role under the Siemens Integrity Initiative to act as a free source of guidance and support to Collective Action initiatives. Contact Vanessa Hans.