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Kier Group Implements New Global Anti-Bribery Programme

Global construction group Kier Group plc (“Kier”) reacts quickly to the UK Bribery Act and shows its commitment to embedding a robust anti-bribery programme throughout its organisation aligned with the requirements of the new UK anti-bribery legislation.

Background

In 2010, following a number of briefing sessions for senior management on the impact of the incoming UK Bribery Act, Kier committed to a roots and branches review of their anti-bribery programme. The aim was to establish anti-bribery policies and procedures that would ensure they remain compliant with the new law. The decision was taken to look for an external provider to work with Kier’s in-house legal team to develop and embed an anti-bribery policy aligned with the Ministry of Justice guidelines for adequate procedures for the prevention of bribery. SAI Global was selected to assist in three key areas: identifying and prioritising the bribery risks impacting Kier, developing anti-bribery policies and procedures proportionate to those risks and rolling out effective, engaging training to help embed anti-bribery policies and procedures throughout the entire organisation.

Anti-Bribery Risk Assessment

Kier is a diverse and geographically dispersed organisation, which operates in a number of high risk countries. This, plus the fact that the construction industry is inherently risky, often with long and complex supply chains, means that the company has a potentially high exposure to bribery and corruption risks. The first stage of SAI Global’s engagement with Kier was to undertake a thorough risk assessment to fully understand that risk exposure and highlight any hot spots requiring priority attention. The information gathered during this exercise would then go on to inform Kier’s anti-bribery policies and procedures.
‘The selection of an independent third party to perform the risk assessments was quite deliberate’, explains Helen Mason, Senior Legal Counsel - Risk and Compliance at Kier Group Services. ‘We wanted our people to feel entirely comfortable and free to speak openly and honestly about what was happening in their part of the business. We also wanted them to feel able to talk about when things had gone wrong so we could learn from these experiences and get a true picture of the bribery and corruption risks facing the Group. We felt that using an independent company like SAI Global would make employees more likely to speak up than if the information was gathered by an internal stakeholder’.
Over a two-week period, SAI Global’s consultants conducted a series of 26 interviews with employees representing a cross-section of functions and geographic locations. The results of these interviews were combined with information gathered at focus groups and via an online survey, to produce a report identifying, assessing and prioritising Kier’s anti-bribery risks according to likelihood and impact. This allowed the business to concentrate effort and resource most effectively through a front-loaded programme focusing on the highest risks first.

Anti-Bribery Policy Development

Taking the concept of “adequate procedures” from the UK Bribery Act as a framework, Kier worked with SAI Global consultants to develop anti-bribery policies and procedures proportionate to the bribery risks identified in the risk assessment. The policies set the correct cultural tone for the business and were written in plain English to make them as accessible as possible to the Kier Group workforce. ‘The key reason we selected SAI Global to work with us on our ABAC policies and procedures was their experience at the ‘front end’ of policy development’, explains Helen Mason. ‘We needed someone to help us craft, develop and embed a policy – not just tell us what was wrong with an existing programme! The fact that SAI has a significant amount of experience of working with clients in the construction industry was also an important factor for us.’
The policies clearly stated the company’s stance on bribery and corruption and incorporated such issues as whistleblowing and gifts & hospitality, outlining processes, controls and expected behaviours.

Anti-Bribery Employee Awareness Training

Having established robust, proportionate anti-bribery policies, the next challenge was to embed these throughout the organisation through effective, engaging employee training. Kier selected SAI Global’s Preventing Bribery & Corruption elearning course as the ideal solution for quickly and efficiently communicating clear messages across a broad and diverse employee workforce. The course was customised for Kier so that it reflected scenarios and terminology used in the construction industry.
‘We wanted our training delivered throughout the entire business so everyone from the CEO downwards got the same, clear message about our commitment to reinforcing a culture where bribery and corruption are rejected’, said Helen Mason. ‘Feedback on the course from our employees has been very positive and the initial reaction at roll-out was one of real enthusiasm. The content is engaging, people are keen to do it and they feel a sense of achievement when they’ve done it - there are pass certificates all over the office’.
The elearning course was delivered to 6,356 people using SAI Global’s learning & communication platform. This gives Kier the ability to monitor and review completion rates, providing a complete audit trail of who has completed the training and perhaps more importantly, identify those who have not completed the training and who could therefore present a risk to the business. By regularly reviewing this data and sending reminders to those who have not completed the course, Kier has the opportunity to monitor performance across the entire business.

Key Successes of the Project to Date

·         An understanding of bribery risks impacting Kier in all the territories in which they operate throughout all business groups
·         An ability to prioritise these risks and allocate the appropriate resource for a proportional response to manage the risks effectively
·         The development of a clear set of Anti-bribery policies which address the unique bribery risks to which Kier is exposed and are aligned to the MoJ Guidelines for adequate procedures to prevent bribery
·         The roll-out of engaging, effective employee training which has communicated a clear, consistent message to help embed Kier’s anti-bribery policies and expected behaviours.

Key Success Criteria

·         Get the buy-in of the board and senior management. This is crucial to set the tone at the top and also to secure the resource and budget you may require for your programme.
·         Work closely with other departments (eg. HR and IT). This is essential for successful programme implementation as some of the skills and knowledge you will need may lie outside the legal/compliance function. 
·         Make your policies accessible to employees and write them in plain English. Using jargon and legalese will be a barrier to communication.
·         Make your training relevant and engaging. Adopt an enterprise-wide, inclusive approach which includes all sections of your workforce.

About Kier Group plc

Kier Group plc is a leading construction, development and service group specialising in building and civil engineering, support services, public and private house building, property development and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The Group employs over 11,000 people worldwide and has an annual revenue of £2.1 bn.

Read more about the FCPA and UK Bribery Act in the SAI Global UK Bribery Act and FCPA Resource Center

 

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