Guatemala is the fourth country after the Netherlands, Albania, and Macedonia to embrace the concept of the Week of Integrity. The business organization Cámara de Industria de Guatemala has adopted the concept. The organization has made promoting integrity and ethical behavior one of its priorities. Director Javier Zepeda says that corruption remains an obstacle to the further development of Guatemala. The current anti-corruption measures focus on enforcement. However, Mr. Zepeda believes that efforts should be made to prevention. Therefore, the preventive character and the multi-stakeholder approach of the Week of Integrity will add different dimensions to the current debate in Guatemala. 

By Javier Zepeda, Secretary General, Cámara de Industria de Guatemala

‘From our perspective business integrity is not a way of doing business, it´s the only wayCámara de Industria de Guatemala it can be done. This 2020 has being a particular challenging year, and at the business level the first objective in mind is the reactivation of businesses at a full speed, but in the process of planning and acting there is a component that can determine the success or failure: integrity. This is not an impossible task, in the last year we have seen that integrity has emerged on the radar screen of business.

From our perspective as a Business Chamber, business integrity is creating a safe and ethical environment-based values integrity, respect, responsibility and pioneering initiatives on sustainability, in other words Business integrity matters because it gives your business a competitive edge and is a priceless essential for business success.

This perspective drives us to address integrity in a way that we can offer our associates knowledge, resources and assessment as a guidance towards business integrity. For this reason and after experienced a crisis in which corruption scandals generated a social uprising manifesting the discontent, it was time to act and be part of the solution by taking all that energy and turn it into positive actions that lay a new foundation for a culture of integrity.

On 2018 we presented Guateíntegra, a program that at the national level ratifies the commitment of the private sector to fight against corruption and to raise the standards of integrity in Business. This program is mainly focused on the implementation of all ICC resources and guidelines on Business Integrity that can prepare and guide real changes on business, that’s why we develop training program adapted to national context and a large offer of workshops for business.

But we didn’t want to reduce our impact on business, that why Guateíntegra has three key characteristics, first we work with allies (business, other chambers, private organizations, NGO´s, academy) that engage with us to accomplish the objective of ‘Develop Technical tool that encourage ethical behaviors with a emphasis on culture of legality and compliance’; second, the efforts are focused on three audiences: businesses, youth and children focusing on long term changes; and third, our intervention is carried out through training, raising awareness and advocacy that leads to concrete transformations. These characteristics makes our program ambitious but not impossible, working with consistency and focusing on a long-term vision we are sure we can give our contribution to society.

Specifically, in companies we focus in different levels, this is the way to provoke a real and meaningful change. At the industry level, we encourage all sectors to commit to have an ethical, responsible and integral behavior; at the organizational level, we promote that any policy, code or guide comes from the top management setting high standards and compromise; and at the individual level, training all employees in a constant and participative way in order to strengthen a solid business culture based on integrity, this helps them apply ethical standards in a day-to-day bases.

Taking into consideration that every organization should include a strategy to raise awareness about the importance of ethical and integrity behaviors, but the fight against corruption cannot and should not be a one sector effort, we look up and found that the initiative of ‘Week of Integrity” has precisely this vision. This network, that successfully developed a multi-stakeholder initiative where Governments, the business community and civil society participate in discussing and developing their own initiatives to promote integrity.

There is no doubt that this initiative has demonstrated that it is possible to bring together different actors who may not agree on everything but do agree that the only way to attack corruption is to work together to promote integrity. That´s why we are exited and hopping add value to this network by developing the initiative in Guatemala.

For the implementation of our version of the Week of integrity, in this 2020 we will be focusing our efforts on the website “Semana de la Integridad” with all the description of the initiative in Spanish. In the website, we will share our Anticorruption campaign, that for the third consecutive year we present on the commemoration of the international anti-corruption day. The concept of this year is “in times of changes, the only thing that does not change is integrity” in which we emphasize the importance of not losing sight, the more challenges why address, the more important that integrity continues to be that added value for our recovery.

This will be only the beginning, next year we will establish contact with allies and partners to present the initiative and invite them to establish together a work plan that aims to raise awareness on integrity and to promote it in the workplace and the boardroom, in the government, in business, and civil society.

We are confident that becoming part of the week of the integrity network, will be constant learning process, there is so much experience that ICC Netherlands and other National Chapters had developed to mobilize private and public sector to join forces and increase their impact on integrity.

The commitment and self-confidence in replicating this initiative, lies in the identification that, from a positive perspective we need to occupy the agenda in the anti-corruption fight, and that is how we must move forward. This way we´re all going to show the capacity that exists on different sectors to make changes that have a deep and real meaning. Every crisis generates new opportunities, this year particularly challenge us to be more resilient and develop solutions that allow us to emerge stronger and more stable, the lesson learned is that the more time and effort we dedicate to doubling, tripling and in general continuing to multiply a culture of integrity, in business, governments and in general in society, we will have an environment of trust and security for sustainable development. This is what our country needs and this is what we will work for.

By pointing our efforts on the Week of Integrity in Guatemala, we are hoping to trigger the interest of all sectors in implementing a preventive mechanism for anti-corruption and promoting integrity at all levels, this will be a healthy and trusting space for discussion and agreement in common goals in benefit of our country.

To be the first ICC chapter in the Americas region that implements this initiative, is a great responsibility that we undertake with great satisfaction, hopping that more chapters join the network and find our experience useful so this initiative can continue to grow. A special thanks to ICC Netherlands in joining the network of such timely and excellent initiative.’

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