Silentworld have just finished intensive training aimed at teaching staff to identify corruption in the workplace.
Silentworld General Manager, Glenn Bennett says the training is important for all staff in the company.
‘We have been training about 15 senior staff members,’ he says. ‘Hopefully they’ll pass these skills down to the more junior members on staff and then that information flows on to the community. It’s a progressive thing, from a little acorn, grows a tree.’
Matson’s Vice President Financial Controller, John Dennen, landed in the country last week to conduct the training sessions.
‘Each region has it’s own experience with corruption. ’ Dennen says. ‘We’re not training in the Solomon Islands because it’s an issue that only affects here. We do this training everywhere we work. We also do this training in the States, and everyone from the president all the way down gets trained.’
‘There’s a saying that honesty is the best policy. Basically it means if you do things right, then people won’t expect anything else. They won’t expect you to do things that are illegal, it’s a win-win for everyone.’
Transparency Solomon Islands Executive Officer Daniel Fenua, says ‘It’s encouraging to see an organization like Matson take the lead in educating staff about the impacts of private sector corruption.’
‘While the focus is often on government and public institutions, it’s important to remember that the fight against corruption is everyone’s responsibility.’
Matson’s Vice President Financial Controller, John Dennen says he has been lucky to fly all around the world, training employees on different aspects of anti-corruption as well as Matson’s philosophy of integrity and honesty.
‘My first assignment was to go to our newly opened offices in China,’ Dennen says. ‘And now within the last six months we’ve moved into the South Pacific. Obviously we have the same responsibility here as we do in the rest of the world.’
He says one of the key lessons is learning about antitrust laws.
‘Antitrust basically ensures that there’s a strong competitive environment in the marketplace.’ Dennen says. ‘A strong competitive environment is good for consumers, competition means they can get a better price for products and services.’
‘One thing that people don’t realize, is that you shouldn’t be talking to competitors about prices. Even though it might seem like a casual conversation, if people start to compare it can inevitably lead to matching prices. If everything is priced the same, customers don’t get a good deal.’
He says he also talks about the difference between a bribe and a ‘facilitating payment’.
‘A facilitating payment is where you make a very small payment to help a process move a little faster,’ Dennen says. ‘It doesn’t have to be money, it can be a pack of cigarettes, or a six pack of coco-cola.’
‘I think it’s important for people to know the difference between a facilitating payment and bribery. The difference is that a bribe is paid to ask someone to do something illegal, something that they shouldn’t be doing, where a facilitating payment is to get someone to do their job a little better.’
‘Every facilitating payment, no matter how small, is recorded in our books. Transparency is important.’
Managing Director of Silentworld, Glenn Bennett says the training is an important step for the country and the community.
‘I’ve noticed over the years that those businesses that are heavily involved in corrupt practices, never last,’ Bennett says. ‘The longest serving companies are those that do their business right. That protect not only their interests, but the interests of their customers.’
‘Growth comes from good practices, not from corruption. Corruption is a short-term solution that doesn’t benefit the community as a whole. And I hope that by John coming and doing this training we’re instilling in our staff correct practices, and in the long term, we’ll all benefit.’