Ethics & Integrity
Our mission is to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society. Our Statement of Vision, Values and Guiding Principles provides the basis for all our work, shaping the codes of conduct of our national chapters, the Secretariat and Board of Directors. All of us at Transparency International are guided by a commitment to uphold the organisation’s values and core principles.
On an ongoing basis, the Secretariat reviews, updates, and implements changes to its policies, procedures and working practices to safeguard an ethical, safe, respectful and inclusive working environment for everyone who works with us.
Our integrity system
In 2018, we commissioned an independent expert firm to conduct a comprehensive independent review of the Secretariat’s ethics and integrity framework. Based on their recommendations, the Secretariat and our Board Ethics Committee undertook reforms to the integrity infrastructure, with the goal of ensuring that our values and guiding principles are embedded at the organisational level as well as in the day-to-day conduct of those who represent Transparency International.
We completed the review process in 2021. To set the overarching purpose of our integrity system and the principles that will guide its implementation, we adopted Integrity System: Strategic Framework as a core document underpinning its functioning.
The goals of our integrity system are:
- to develop and maintain a culture of consistent ethical leadership and working practices across all levels of the organisation
- to enable an ethical, safe, respectful and inclusive working environment for all
- to foster an understanding of, and adherence to, our values and expected behaviours among staff at all levels
- to develop and maintain organisational resilience against actions, decisions and behaviours that compromise the integrity of our organisation, or those who represent it
- to reduce the likelihood and impact of integrity violations as much as possible
- to build awareness and confidence in the integrity reporting channels so that – where they cannot be prevented – a greater proportion of violations are reported
- to ensure that actual and suspected breaches of our values and behavioural standards are effectively and robustly managed
Our integrity system is guided by the following principles: accessibility, confidentiality, data protection, fairness and due process, safety and security, independence, mutual responsibility, clarity and proportionality.
In addition to establishing the strategic functioning of the system, the Strategic Framework also defines the scope and parameters of the responsibilities, mandates, and powers of those who work within the system.
Code of conduct
The Secretariat’s Code of Conduct, the review of which was completed in 2021, guides the day-to-day work of the staff of the Secretariat, establishing the principles, values and behavioural expectations that those working for the Secretariat must demonstrate in order to uphold the necessary standards of conduct within, and on behalf of, the organisation.
The Board of Directors has its own Code of Conduct. Directors publish a register of interests, which can be found in their biographies.
As operationally independent organisation, our national chapters develop their own codes of conduct, with their board members also publishing registers of interests.
A range of policies and procedures to help reduce the risk and impact of integrity violations are an integral part of our system.
People at Transparency International around the world adhere to a Conflict of Interest Policy that establishes standards in situations where the interests or values of the Transparency International movement may conflict with those of individuals entrusted with specific responsibilities for the movement.
The Secretariat’s Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) Policy, part of our human resources manual, provides guidance on the definitions of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment and on the steps to take when actual or suspected incidents occur.
The Secretariat’s Child Protection Policy forms part of our human resources manual and provides guidance to Secretariat staff on the definitions of child abuse and on the steps to take, if encountered.
In addition, the Anti-Harassment Policy for events and meetings organised by the Secretariat aims to ensure a harassment-free environment for all participants.
Integrity violations reporting policy
Through the preventative components of our Integrity System, the Secretariat aims to reduce the likelihood and impact of incidents in which those who work for and represent the organisation fail to exhibit the standards of expected behaviour, or act in accordance with our mission, vision, values and guiding principles. However, the risk can never be entirely eliminated through preventative measures alone.
Transparency International has long recognised the important role of whistleblowers in preventing and detecting wrongdoing. The Secretariat has a dedicated policy to ensure that those who report do not suffer any repercussions for their efforts.
The Secretariat’s Integrity Violations Reporting Policy outlines the procedures for reporting a (suspected) integrity violation or related integrity concerns and details the support and protections available for those that raise reports. The procedures are designed in line with the international standards and best practices that Transparency International advocates for.
The policy establishes the channels available to Secretariat staff, external stakeholders and the wider public for the reporting of suspected violations of our Code of Conduct, or other ethical concerns relating to the conduct or functioning of the organisation or associated entities.
It also establishes the circumstances in which such reporting shall be considered a duty of Secretariat staff, provides guidance on how a report shall be managed by the Secretariat, establishes the measures Secretariat must take to protect the identity of those that report integrity violations/concerns and establishes the protections available for those that raise reports from potential unfair treatment and retaliation.
How to report integrity violations at the Secretariat
Staff or others can report suspected integrity violations pertaining to the Secretariat through any of these reporting channels:
- members of the management team, including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Integrity Manager
- External Whistleblowing Reporting Point
You are free to raise your integrity concern through any of these channels, without having to justify your choice. Concerns or reports received through these channels are shared with the Integrity Manager, who is responsible for assessing and ensuring appropriate action, as well as for protecting, filing, safe-storing and handling of the information involved.
The External Whistleblowing Reporting Point also offers increased guarantees of confidentiality by protecting your identity when relaying the information to the Integrity Manager or any other part of the organisation.
Transparency International Secretariat’s Integrity Manager can be contacted on [email protected] for advice on ethics and integrity matters, and for confidentially reporting any alleged, suspected or actual integrity violations pertaining to the Secretariat.
External Whistleblowing Reporting Point
The function of the External Whistleblowing Reporting Point of Transparency International is covered by Dr. Rainer Buchert, a highly experienced ombudsperson fulfilling this role in over 40 large and medium-size organisations in Germany.
Dr. Rainer Buchert
Bleidenstraße 1, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Phone: +49(0)69 71033330; +49(0)6105 921355
Fax: +49(0)69 71034444
Email: [email protected]
Board Ethics Committee
The Board Ethics Committee of the international Board of Directors provides advice and oversight on ethical questions to the Board, the national chapters and the Secretariat. Additionally, it handles any reports of suspected or actual integrity violations involving the CEO or the Integrity Manager of the Secretariat.
How to report integrity violations about or to a national chapter
The national chapters of Transparency International are locally based, independently governed entities with their own internal ethics and integrity bodies. You should therefore address information related to possible integrity violations to the competent body within the national chapter itself.
If you are concerned that the national chapter is unable or unsuitable to fairly or effectively manage the case, please contact the chair of the Board Ethics Committee and outline:
- the issue of concern,
- the steps that you have already taken with the chapter and the results (if any),
- why you believe that the Chapter is unsuited or unable to effectively manage the case (e.g., details of an apparent conflict of interest).
In most cases, you should seek to fully utilise the internal complaint and appeal processes of the national chapter before escalating the matter to the Board Ethics Committee. Please do not share any personal or private data with the Board Ethics Committee unless you are expressly allowed to do so under relevant governing laws.
How to report corruption
Transparency International encourages people to speak up about individual cases of corruption wherever it is safe to do so.
Corruption should be reported to the most relevant national chapter or to one of Transparency International’s local Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres.