Anti-Corruption Collective Action in Armenia: Corporate Governance Center Launches “Business Integrity Club”

04.09.2021 | Grace Ingle

The Corporate Governance Center in Armenia is making history with support from CIPE.

On February 5, 2021, CGC  launched the first-ever anti-corruption collective action initiative in the country. Representatives of more than 30 companies attended the inaugural meeting of the Business Integrity Club (the “Club”) demonstrating the Armenian private sector’s commitment to anti-corruption reform three years after the pro-democratic Velvet Revolution in 2018.

The Club is gaining momentum just months after its launch in Armenia. To date, 24 companies have officially joined the Club. Members range from financial services providers to pharmaceutical companies to legal firms. To join the Club, companies must sign an anti-corruption declaration and commit to integrating business integrity and corporate governance standards within their organizations. Membership is open to any company willing to commit to ethical business standards, both on paper and in practice. The Club meets each month and regularly hosts additional workshops and seminars.

In early March, CGC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Armenian Ministry of Economy outlining plans to advance business integrity and anti-corruption compliance standards in the Armenian private sector and promote public-private cooperation. Narine Melikyan, director of CGC, has also earned international recognition for her work on business integrity; she recently earned a place on Diligent’s 2020 Modern Governance 100 list, which recognizes, “general counsels, corporate secretaries, and governance professionals who have demonstrated resilience, dedication, and empathy in the face of a complex and ever-changing world.”

Narine Melikyan, Director of Corporate Governance Center, shakes hands with Vahan Kerobyan, Minister of Economy of Armenia, after signing a memorandum of understanding.

CIPE has supported anti-corruption and business integrity work in Armenia since 2018, when it launched training for businesses across the country in partnership with CGC and other local groups.

So far nearly 300 representatives from more than 200 companies have received training. Through the Club, CGC is determined to unite representatives of the Armenian business community that value integrity and commit to collective action on corporate governance issues. The Club provides members with “professional assistance that improves [their] self-governance,” including one-on-one consultations to develop codes of ethics and other regulations for board activities. By promoting corporate governance standards and best practices in Armenia, Melikyan aims to disrupt the status quo in Armenia’s private sector and build a business culture defined by transparency and accountability.

CIPE supports its partners in the South Caucasus and broader Eurasia region to build inclusive business enabling environments that support the interests of all stakeholders, from small and medium enterprises to women entrepreneurs, through constructive dialogue, reform, and advocacy.

Corporate Governance Center shares regular updates via Facebook and LinkedIn. CIPE’s Strengthening Ethical Conduct & Business Integrity: A Guide for Companies in Emerging Markets and Anti-Corruption Compliance: A Guide to Mid-Sized Companies in Emerging Markets are now available in Armenian.

The Business Integrity Club’s logo