Q: What does it mean for Commercial Bank to be ranked in the Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) report 2022?
A: Accountability and transparency in reporting are very important areas that all corporates should comply with; for a financial institution, these are not only important but mandatory.
Commercial Bank is proud and honoured to be ranked in second place in TISL’s 2022 report while securing the number one position among banks. It is a testament to our continuous commitment to good governance.
We are also elated to have scored a perfect 100 percent for both ‘organisational transparency’ and ‘domestic financial reporting.’ The fact that TISL follows international standards speaks volumes for the level of quality control in an organisation.
Q: And what would you say are the reasons behind this achievement?
A: The score assigned to Commercial Bank in this report is 9.73, which makes it a ‘significantly transparent’ business entity. The main reason for this achievement is the rigorous good governance structures that were put in place decades ago and adhered to with utmost precision.
While we adjust to the dynamic operating environment as a bank, the fundamental pillars of good governance have remained the same. This strategic approach has made it possible for us to filter good governance into all aspects of our business.
The stringent self-evaluation methods that the bank applies – such as regulatory compliance, internal audits, whistleblowing policies, many anti-harassment policies, and clear and transparent communications with all stakeholders – have also contributed to this success.
Q: In your opinion, how should organisations adopt a strong stance against bribery and corruption?
A: We have seen that it can happen to the best of organisations, despite the existence of many control mechanisms. Apart from having the necessary and relevant control mechanisms in place for prevention, the only other way organisations can take a strong stance against bribery and corruption is by walking the talk.
Constant training and updating team members are imperatives in this regard. Internal communication of the initiatives adopted by an organisation to ensure good governance is of paramount importance in taking a strong stance against bribery and corruption.
In addition, employees should be encouraged to report and notify any incidents that don’t conform to ethical norms; and there should be confidential and effective ways of reporting such instances.
And strong support should be available to people before and after reporting such cases.
Q: What are the key attributes of corporate accountability, in your assessment?
A: The key attributes of corporate accountability are clearly defined boundaries, transparent communications, multilevel controls, compliance with rules and regulations, and constant pre and post evaluations.
It is important that all strategic business units are aware of what’s expected of them in this area – and that they’re educated in proper methods of reporting. This will ensure that the main dashboard is achieved with accurate information, facilitating overall achievement of accountability.
Q: For a private sector company, how important is good governance?
A: Whether it’s a private or public sector organisation, good governance is at the heart of any successful business; it is first and foremost a self-disciplinary measure that has a positive impact on business continuity. Therefore, it is very important for both private and public sector organisations to ensure good governance.
If there is no transparency and accountability in operations, a business will be at risk of collapse because of bad governance, bribery and corruption – and its corporate reputation will suffer. In the modern world, there is no compromise on accountability for a corporate; and as I have already mentioned, it is especially indispensable for a financial services institution.
When it comes to private sector organisations, good governance is a must as they deal with multiple key stakeholders such as the public sector, regulators, and local and international agencies. This is because good governance is critical to ensuring transparency, which in turn ensures that the interests of all shareholders are safeguarded.
Q: And what are the challenges faced by businesses in this regard?
A: The constantly evolving business and operating environment makes it particularly difficult for corporates to keep track of whether their operations are functioning smoothly and ethically. This is especially valid when it comes to digital and cyber related issues.
Organisations have to employ substantial resources to ensure that they’re on their toes in monitoring operations. Given the increasingly competitive business environment and the quest to be competitive by being the first to achieve excellence, organisations could face the dilemma of compromising some of their long-established procedures.
Bringing all stakeholders onto one page while dealing with accountability and transparency, and the fluctuating socioeconomic environment, could have an impact on the mindset of people. And in turn, this can reflect on organisational behaviour, which is also a common challenge that businesses face.