Adrian Gheorghita is Deputy Director for Advocacy & Business Development, AmCham Moldova
AmCham Moldova has a broader responsibility than many membership-based business associations and chambers of commerce. In addition to serving its members, AmCham Moldova also works with the country’s government and business leaders to foster a more favorable business climate.
For years, most of our organization’s resources have been directed to advocacy activities, including working for a more favorable investment climate, trade facilitation, cutting red tape, and so forth. More specifically, our work to improve the business regulatory framework is one of the main tools for reducing corruption and ensuring a level playing field for all businesses in Moldova.
AmCham Moldova has also put in place a Code of Conduct & Principles, with the first pillar being the imperative to act transparently and ethically when doing business, both domestically and abroad. Despite having this code in place, we realized that specific activities that would assist companies in applying our principles were missing from our menu, which we set out to update.
In September 2018, we conducted our first-ever anti-corruption seminar on ISO 37001, an anti-bribery management system, with technical support from the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a global champion of private-sector-led anti-corruption and business ethics initiatives. Following its success, in March 2019, AmCham Moldova’s Board of Directors established our Ethics & Compliance Club (EC) to educate and bring industry experts together to promote an ethics and compliance culture within local business communities.
Since then, CIPE has provided us with the necessary support and guidance to establish the profile and agenda of AmCham Moldova’s EC Club.
As the EC Club is intended to be open for both advanced professionals coming from the AmCham member companies and for SMEs seeking to set up a compliance program, selecting the topics for monthly meetings was a consistent challenge we encountered. Along with CIPE, we developed a curriculum based on a capacity needs assessment survey so we could consider the needs of all interested parties.
Another challenge we continue to face consists of ensuring the constant engagement of EC Club members. To stimulate this engagement, AmCham Moldova periodically invites compliance professionals to share their experiences, best corporate practices, and on-the-ground implementation strategies. These exercises increase the level of awareness of the necessity to implement anti-corruption programs within the EC Club, by inspiring others.
Currently, the EC community subscription list counts more than 100 subscribers, with a solid core made up of nearly 30 compliance officers. I look forward to the next phase of the club’s development, which will be focused on engaging in discussions with public institutions on current and upcoming corporate governance and compliance regulations.
Our partnership with CIPE has also provided us with an excellent opportunity to review our internal guidelines and to improve the compliance program within our own organization. The “Principles on Combating Corruption for Business Associations and Chambers of Commerce” as well as the “Risk Assessment Framework” trainings helped our team gain a better understanding of the importance of the compliance programs, and to realize that there is a vital necessity to promote these principles to the entire Moldovan business community as a tool to enhance the transparency of our business environment.
Our recipe for establishing a successful compliance community is made using the following key ingredients:
- A strong tone from the top. In addition to strong support for business integrity principles and conduct from its senior executives, each organization should make such commitments public. We have completed this by publicly publishing and promoting our Code of Conduct and Principles.
- Lead by example. A membership-based organization should effectively implement a compliance program, thus serving as an example for its members.
- Speak loudly about launching a new community. AmCham Moldova informed the national anti-corruption public authority, donor organizations, and other business associations on the establishment of the compliance community, in addition to sending out invitations to the club’s activities.
- Allow the members to establish the club’s agenda and calendar based on their needs.
- Increase commitment to the club’s activities by encouraging the exchange of information and sharing experiences within the topic of business integrity in Moldova.
About AmCham Moldova
AmCham Moldova is a business association comprised of 140 foreign and local companies that are active in each sector of the Moldovan economy. The Mission of AmCham Moldova is to promote American, foreign, and domestic trade and investment, while working with the Moldovan government and business leaders to foster a more favorable business climate in Moldova for foreign trade and investment.
The 140 AmCham Moldova member companies earn profits representing about 20 percent of the total profits registered in the economy by Moldovan businesses.