Private Sector Engagement: The Case of the Alliance for Integrity
The private sector is vital to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Whether helping to close the financing gap, providing know-how for the most pressing issues of the day or improving the livelihoods along supply chains, the private sector plays a central role in realizing sustainable development.
One means through which the private sector can contribute is through multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs), coalitions of partners working together as equals to solve issues such as sustainable economic development or fostering anti-corruption worldwide. But how does one engage the private sector? In this article, staff and supporters from the Alliance for Integrity, a multi-stakeholder partnership in the field of business integrity, explain how to effectively engage the private sector in a mutually beneficial partnership for sustainable development.
Alliance for Integrity: Businesses Take Action Against Corruption
The Alliance for Integrity is a business-driven multi-stakeholder initiative between private sector, civil society, public institutions and international organisations. The aim of the initiative is to promote integrity among companies, their business partners and other relevant actors in the economic system. The Alliance for Integrity is currently active in Brazil, Ghana, India and Mexico and the respective regions. The Alliance for Integrity offers practical solutions to strengthen integrity through peer-to-peer learning, capacity building and public-private dialogue both on the local level in partner countries and on the global level. To find out more, visit www.allianceforintegrity.org.
The Business Case:
Key to Private Sector Engagement
Reynaldo Goto, Compliance Officer at Siemens Brazil, explains that it was quite easy to attract companies in the beginning. But it is only easy when the purpose of the multi-stakeholder partnership is clear and fits the demand of the potential partners. For those companies who are not convinced from the beginning, showcasing results of the partnership can provide an additional incentive. This highlights a key element to engaging and retaining private sector stakeholders: The business case.
As private sector engagement revolves in large part around the partnership’s business case, it requires significant attention to its relevant steps: to build it and to communicate and to showcase results.
Step One: Building your business case
A successful multi-stakeholder partnership business case requires clear value added elements for all stakeholders. Value-added services can come in many shapes and sizes, but at the end must make the partnership attractive for potential stakeholders.
Dr. Silvina Coria, Global Head of Risk and Compliance at OLX, engaged in the Alliance for Integrity when she saw the opportunity to pool knowledge and to reach more with limited resources.
Fernanda Nan, Global Compliance Manager at Sowitec, highlights the Alliance for Integrity’s ability to bring down transaction costs by aligning all actors through a shared understanding of the challenge at hand – and finding solutions for this challenge.
Value-added aspects not only exist for and between the various private sector stakeholders, but also in the relation to the public sector. For example, one type of value-added service can be enabling a conducive environment for the private sector by the public sector. Indeed, public-private dialogue and the building of trust between the different stakeholder groups are key advantage provided by multi-stakeholder partnerships.
As Rhodia Appiah, Head of Corporate Affairs and Administration of the Public Procurement Authority in Ghana states, a multi-stakeholder partnership can serve as a vehicle to achieve progress by creating win-win situations for both the public sector and the private sector.
The first step in building a successful business case is to include the private sector from the very beginning. Only in this way can you ensure that what you bring to the table is something the private sector is interested in.
The Alliance for Integrity was jointly initiated by the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) and the Bundesverband der deutschen Industrie (BDI) e.V. Private sector stakeholders co-created the Alliance for Integrity, providing input und guidance. Relevant stakeholders from the private sector, the public sector, civil society and international organisations were closely involved in the selection of partner countries, the approach of the initiative and the setting of modalities for its governance.
The close coordination of relevant stakeholders set the ground for a successful start of the initiative. The task of GIZ as neutral facilitator was to moderate different interests, establish trust between stakeholders, manage expectations and to provide technical expertise. Partners, in particular the private sector, showed a feeling of ownership for the Alliance for Integrity that was often described as an initiative from the private sector for the private sector.
Step 2: Communicating your business case
When communicating the business case of the multi-stakeholder partnership, it is vital to use the language of those you are trying to reach. In the case of the private sector: keep it simple and be clear in what you want. It is not that the private sector cannot understand complex or indirect communication, they simply do not have the time for it. Therefore, sharpen your unique selling proposition.
Communication is vital for a multi-stakeholder partnership. A communication strategy needs to be in place from the very beginning, for as Raymond Ahiadorme, the Alliance for Integrity’s Network Manager in Ghana, points out, if you don’t have clear communication, people will drag their feet and not participate.
He also recommends to keep the language fit for the context in terms of the stakeholder group addressed and the local context. Therefore, while the Alliance for Integrity is a global partnership, its activities and thereby its stakeholders are local and so too should the communication be fit for this.
Building a network also means maintaining close contact with key stakeholders. In the case of the Alliance for Integrity, private sector stakeholders become ambassadors that push the initiative in their companies, among business partners in the supply chain but also at conferences and in business associations. Trust and ownership are key prerequisites that evolve of long-standing personal engagement. The personal engagement of compliance officers from larger companies makes it easier for the Alliance for Integrity to reach its primary target group: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).