29. January 2024

FCPA Blog: Strong leadership breathes new life into B20 Integrity & Compliance Task Force

This blog was originally published on the FCPA Blog, which was discontinued in February 2024.

2023 was a mixed bag for the business integrity community. On the one hand, the B20 – the voice of business of the G20 forum of major economies – had no Integrity & Compliance Task Force under the Indian Presidency. That was a major missed opportunity for all of us who care about raising standards of business integrity around the world.

The B20 Integrity & Compliance Task Force is a unique platform to discuss and build consensus among businesses on compliance and integrity topics across G20 countries. It provides an opportunity to present G20 governments with specific issues for consideration and implementation. 

On a more positive note, the OECD Integrity Forum and U.S.-led Summit for Democracy discussions highlighted the private sector’s critical role in the fight against corruption, particularly in high-risk sectors such as infrastructure and energy. 

2023 also finished on a high note: For the first time, the UN Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) in Atlanta included a forum dedicated to business integrity. More than 500 companies supported a call to action on business integrity, which was presented to government delegates at the CoSP. 

Upon taking over the G20 Presidency in December, Brazil announced that the B20 Integrity & Compliance Task Force would be re-introduced. The Task Force will be led by renowned Brazilian business leader, Claudia Sender, with the Brazilian National Conference of Industry (CNI) leading the B20 overall. 

As the B20 kicks off in Rio de Janeiro at the end of January, strong participation and engagement of the Brazilian and global business community can be expected – including on the integrity agenda.

Business integrity: the backbone of the wider business agenda

2023 offered some sobering reminders of the need for continued efforts by companies and governments to manage their corruption risks. A notable example was the corruption case in Portugal’s renewable energy sector, which led to the resignation of the Portuguese prime minister.

Fueled by geopolitical tensions, corruption is evolving, and economic, social, and political systems are shifting alongside it. 

“To stay abreast of these interconnected challenges, companies need to look beyond their internal processes, to increase their engagement in policy platforms and in spaces for dialogue with their communities”, says Robin Hodess of The B Team, a long standing B20 Task Force member. 

Active business participation in multi-stakeholder settings can help ensure that new standards, laws, and policies reflect business realities (including stakeholder demands) and can be effectively implemented. 

The B20 Task Force at the forefront of efforts to advance business integrity

As a multi-stakeholder group with a strong and international business representation, the B20 Integrity & Compliance Task Force has achieved tangible impacts under previous G20 Presidencies. 

For example, it was one of the first business groups to recommend the introduction of public digital beneficial ownership registers and transparent and competitive procurement processes. Both of these issues continue to be front and center for business integrity – and corporate transparency is key to global efforts to curb illicit financial flows. 

The B20 also co-authored with the G20 a guidance document on Compliance for SMEs and worked on an Anti-Corruption Technology Road Map to promote integrity and compliance. Current debates about the impact of artificial intelligence on business will no doubt have huge implications for business integrity as well in the years to come. 

The ongoing focus on transparency makes business integrity efforts key to the wider agenda for economic transformation, such as the just energy transition. Disclosure on company policies, processes, and impact – whether on anti-corruption or on carbon – helps create accountability, which is critical for businesses and their commitments to a sustainable economy, as the Task Force noted across the past few B20 cycles.

Transparency is also a key element for stakeholder engagement, which is increasingly part of the business integrity agenda.

The B20 is a community of practice not just a process 

One positive takeaway from the hiatus of the Integrity & Compliance Task Force in 2023 was the continued engagement and commitment of previous Task Force members. Together, we worked to integrate key transparency and business integrity topics in other task forces. 

As a group, we have also been proactive and vocal in the process to reinstate the Integrity & Compliance Task Force during the 2023/24 Brazilian B20 Presidency. Members met regularly, despite having no official home in the B20.

We updated a guidance document that captures a range of good practices and learnings for incoming B20 presidencies, such as:

  • Promoting consistent engagement between the Integrity & Compliance Task Force and the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, which advises the G20 leaders on anti-corruption topics.
  • Ensuring consistency, continuity, and follow-up across G20/B20 Presidencies, including by tracking progress.
  • Enhancing governance in Task Force management.

This all reflects what makes the B20 anti-corruption workstream unique: the voice and historical knowledge of its community. 

Looking forward

Through the Task Force, the business integrity community is actively engaged in shaping the B20 process rather than the other way around. This allows for community ownership. It also means there is impact on the wider business community beyond the recommendations made to the G20 every year.

Under the Brazilian leadership, the B20 in 2024 promises a re-invigorated Integrity and Compliance Task Force, whose work is cut out for it. The community of practitioners committed to business integrity is ready for the challenge.

To find out more about the Integrity and Compliance work at the B20 or to join the informal community, see the Basel Institute’s resource pages and reach out to Robin Hodess, The B Team, rh@bteam.org.

Scarlet Wannenwetsch

Senior Specialist, Collective Action
+41 61 205 56 75

Katja Bechtel

Business Integrity Advisor