An unfair constraint on French companies or a shield to protect against the risks of operating in a global economy?
Caroline Fagard, Director at Forensic Risk Alliance
Jesica Lindgren, General Counsel at Blue Star Strategies, LLC
On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka (Bangladesh) collapsed, killing more than 1,000 workers and wounding more than 1,500. Thirty-two U.S., Canadian and European labels and retailers were outsourcing garments to Rana Plaza factories, including a number of French ones. Following the tragedy, French members of parliament are proposing to implement a “Duty of Vigilance” or “Duty of Care” on large French companies operating abroad.
In early 2015, the law was adopted by the French Parliament and is currently being reviewed by the Senate. If approved, it would be the first French law to impose an Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) program on French companies. This would be a major change as US authorities have heavily (and repeatedly) fined French companies during the five last years, both on corruption or embargoes/sanctions grounds. In parallel, the OECD has also severely criticized the country for not enforcing anti-corruption statutes.
The proposed law targets companies headquartered in France, with more than 5,000 French employees – and also covers parent and subsidiaries or companies with more than 10,000 global employees. French companies in this category will have to implement a publicly available “Vigilance Plan” covering risks in terms of human rights and freedoms; personal injury or damage to the environment; health; active and passive corruption. These risks could result from their own business operations, as well as those of the companies they control directly or indirectly, and the subcontractors and suppliers with which the company deals. Breach of this obligation could lead to potential fines up to €10 million.
Best Practice Guidelines
Although at this stage the draft law does not give concrete directions as to what the “Vigilance Plan” may encompass in terms of anticorruption measures, it is highly probable that the focus areas will be similar to those recommended by anti-corruption legislations in other countries. In November 2012, the US DOJ published a Resource Guide to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Acts (FCPA) which lists the main elements of an efficient compliance program. The UK Ministry of Justice has also published recommendations in its Bribery Act Guidance’s Six Principles:
As a suggestion, we recommend companies that will have to comply set up a robust ABC program based on four steps: Inform, Train, Equip and Control.
Inform: A strong tone at the top is essential. Management should be diligent in communicating a clear message regarding corporate values and behavioral expectations to employees and contract personnel. The Company’s Code of Conduct, brochures and public documents should enforce this messaging.
Train: Periodic training ensures that this message is effectively communicated throughout the company. The employees should be trained to be vigilant to the corruption risk and to make the right decision when exposed to such situations. Training sessions should be adapted to the position and the exposure of each employee to corruption risks: a sales key account manager does not deal with the same kind of situations as the financial analyst for example.
Equip: Performing a risk mapping of the company’s operations is the first step allowing the design and implementation of a tailored risk-based compliance program to which foreign enforcement authorities are very attentive. This risk mapping will guide the generic tools supporting the broad principles of ABC compliance (Code of Ethics, Employee Guide…) as well as specific tools detailing the “do’s and don’ts” of a daily job: procedures regarding third-party contracting (e.g. due diligence), gift and entertainment or sponsoring, for example. It is also important to allow employees to report any suspected wrongdoing through an anonymous whistleblowing hotline adapted to the needs of the company.
Control: Finally, a good compliance program is only efficient if regularly controlled and assessed by financial reviews and transactional testing. Internal teams or external auditors should regularly carry out compliance audits. A strong emphasis is usually put on third-party transaction review as enforcement actions before US and UK jurisdictions showed that agents, consultants, distributors or JV partners are often used to channel illicit payments. Other traditional high-risk areas include transactions with official regulatory authorities – such as customs and tax – as well as government tenders, gifts, entertainments, sponsorships or donations to name the obvious ones. To be credible, the compliance program should also provide for enforcement rules where breaches of its provisions are sanctioned by disciplinary measures.
These rather universal compliance recommendations will probably be part of the concrete directions given by the French legislator. They also can act as affirmative defenses to evidence the strong compliance culture of a company and demonstrate that any issue is anomalous and not systemic.
While the final provisions of the bill will not be known until (and if) passed by the French Senate (and with additional guidance then to be given in an accompanying decree), the striking benefit of this new law would be that, for the first time, large French companies and their subsidiaries will be liable for fines for non-compliance with the new law. Under this bill, France would be taking anti-corruption compliance a step further by mandating a compliance program by law and holding companies liable for failing to have such a program in place.
France accounts for 11 of the 50 largest companies in the EU. By enacting this legislation, France would therefore be asserting moral leadership in Europe and even further as a global model in its efforts to combat corruption, as well abuses of human rights, health and the environment. And this would be seen positively in light of corporate reputational risk, too.
Why CMOs Should Care About Customer IAM
By Darshana Gunawardana, Associate Director/Architect at WSO2
The surge to move online in 2020, in turn, has driven demand for high-performance, cost-effective customer identity access management solutions. And as we kick off 2021, customer identity and access management (CIAM) have become essential for any business to really understand their customers which is why CMOs should actively engage with and care about their CIAM system. I say this because within the various stages of a customer’s buying journey, such as awareness, consideration, purchase and service, more often than not a CIAM is running in the background ensuring the right solution enhances their digital experience by providing significantly better onboarding, personalisation, omnichannel experiences, and privacy controls and building that all-important trust with the customer.
So, let’s take a look at how CIAM works and the benefits it provides in the various stages of the customer journey:
The awareness stage is the very first step where a customer interacts with a company’s brand. This is where customers get to know about the product or the service offered by the business, which may lead them to access the company website or content on other platforms such as social media.
At this stage, customer interactions typically occur at an anonymous level. Therefore, the involvement of a CIAM solution will be minimal as no identifying information is available. However, it’s important to make use of products such as web analytics to preserve customer interest, which can be beneficial at a later stage.
At the consideration stage, customers will have more focused needs and they will show more engagement by downloading datasheets, following product demos/trials, etc. Typically, one or two customer attributes are captured in the CIAM at this level. Depending on the prominence of the attributes, this would be the starting point of representing the customer as a light user account in the CIAM system. These accounts do not have any credentials associated with them since customers have not gone through an onboarding process.
At this level, the CIAM’s inbound and outbound provisioning capabilities play a key role. For example, a prospective customer downloads a catalogue from a product website by providing their email; then, the website would create a light account in the CIAM system using a standard provisioning protocol like SCIM. Next, the CIAM solution will (outbound) provision that user account to different marketing tools – for example, Hubspot, and CRM tools like Salesforce, or web analytics such as Mixpanel.
Likewise, the organisation might correlate the light account with web analytics. This helps to obtain more insights about users, such as geolocation and what type of content they looked at during the awareness stage. These details can be used to provide more relevant, personalised information in the future.
The purchase stage is the level that receives the most amount of attention from most organisations. Depending on laws and regulations, it will be crucial to have verified user details. However, it’s important to ensure that the customer registration and onboarding process is simple and user-friendly.
Minimising the mandatory information fields requested from a customer helps significantly. This can be done by auto-filling information that is already associated with the light account. Another way to do this is by using progressive profiling so that the customer has to provide additional details only when they access a specific service that requires these details.
Having to maintain many accounts and credentials is a major pain point from a customer’s perspective. The ability to bring your own ID (BYOID) to help simplify the registration process is important. This will also help to reduce self-service or call centre interactions in later stages as it will lessen the need of having to recover an account owing to misplaced or forgotten credential details.
Moreover, having direct integrations with identity verification services like Evident ID in the CIAM solution reduces the overhead of providing various documents or having to go through a manual process to verify customer information, such as proof of citizenship, insurance validity, and so on.
The service stage is also a key stage for many consumer businesses. The user experience at this level determines whether existing customers become champions or detractors for the brand.
From a CIAM standpoint, users should have seamless access to any product or service they consume. If there are multiple services involved, basic things like the ability to consume both services with the same account and having single sign-on among multiple applications have become must-have capabilities. Strong authentication with additional factors is also a need when accessing sensitive applications. In addition, adaptive authentication also plays a key role to balance convenience over security. Having mechanisms like account locking, and risk-based authentication gives more assurance to protect customers’ accounts from malicious parties.
This leads to another vital requirement: self-service. Customers should be able to update and review their privacy preferences, such as the use of different emails for different activities, change associated profile information, and update contact information. At the same time, a user should be able to adjust their security profile by configuring recovery mechanisms and register trusted devices for login. With the advancement of privacy regulations across the world, modern businesses must also give users data portability and the ability to deregister.
Additionally, during the service stage, a business might also go through changes, e.g., mergers and acquisitions of other brands, and these activities should not drastically impact the customer experience. The right CIAM solution can facilitate these moves in an incremental manner.
CIAM can even help initiatives such as loyalty programs, which aim to increase customer engagement. Loyal customers might opt for early access to new products and give more accurate feedback, which can be utilised in A/B testing for product or service changes.
As a CIAM solution is well connected with every system involving the customer, it enables organisations to generate enhanced and actionable behavioural data that can be used to predict and determine possible interests. Even during unprecedented times, this information helps to make better-informed decisions.
Enhancing the customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s increasingly sophisticated customers view digital interactions as the primary mechanism to interact with products and services and, consequently, expect deeper online relationships delivered simply, securely, and seamlessly. CIAM plays a vital role in connecting applications and APIs to customers and provides all the capabilities needed to deliver a customer experience that is second to none.
Volkswagen faces EU fine for missing 2020 emissions targets
BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen faces a fine of more than 100 million euros ($121 million) for missing EU targets on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its 2020 passenger car fleet, the world’s largest carmaker said on Thursday.
It cut average CO2 emissions in the fleet in the European Union by around 20% to 99.8 g/km, but that was around 0.5 g/km above its target, Volkswagen said.
That implied EU fines amounting to a “very low triple-digit million amount”, a spokesman said.
European policymakers have clamped down on exhaust emissions, forcing carmakers to spur development of low-emission technology or face a penalty of 95 euros per gram of excess CO2 they emit.
“We narrowly missed the fleet target for 2020, thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement, adding he hoped to meet the target this year as the company’s main brands bring out new electric models.
Volkswagen is reducing the combustion-engined cars it offers and retooling more factories to build electric vehicles in an effort to keep up with electric carmaker Tesla.
It has said the EU’s more stringent emissions targets will force it to boost the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in its European car sales to 60% by 2030, up from a previous target of 40%.
Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating emissions tests on diesel engines, a scandal which has cost it more than 30 billion euros ($33 billion) in regulatory fines and vehicle refits, mostly in the United States.
($1 = 0.8237 euros)
(Reporting by Jan Schwartz, writing by Emma Thomasson; editing by Jason Neely)
Oil dips after unexpected rise in U.S. crude stocks
By Ahmad Ghaddar
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil slipped on Thursday after industry data showed a surprise increase in U.S. crude inventories that revived pandemic-related demand concerns, but United States stimulus hopes limited the price downturn.
Brent crude futures fell 47 cents, or 0.8%, to $55.61 a barrel by 1030 GMT.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 43 cents, or 0.8%, to $52.88 a barrel, following two days of gains on expectations of massive COVID-19 relief spending under new U.S. President Joe Biden.
U.S. crude oil inventories rose 2.6 million barrels in the week to Jan. 15, according to data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute, compared with analysts’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million barrel fall. [API/S]
Official Energy Information Administration (EIA) inventory data is due on Friday.
“If delayed EIA numbers tomorrow show a similar crude oil build, it would be the first build seen since early December,” analysts at bank ING said.
Rising COVID-19 cases in China, the world’s largest crude oil importer, also weighed on prices.
Beijing plans to impose strict COVID testing requirements during the Lunar New Year holiday season, when tens of millions of people are expected to travel, as it battles the worst wave of new infections since March 2020.
The commercial hub of Shanghai reported its first locally transmitted cases in two months on Thursday.
Elsewhere, new U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has committed to curb carbon emissions and among his first actions as president, Biden announced America’s return to the Paris climate accord and revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project from Canada.
The administration is also committed to ending new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.
The administration will also seek to lengthen and strengthen the nuclear constraints on Iran through diplomacy and will be raising the issue in early talks with foreign counterparts and allies, according to the White House.
(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Koustav Samanta in Singapore. Editing by Jane Merriman)
SH Capital Ltd launches in Dubai to support SMEs with global banking services
Fintech provider to reconnect businesses with international banking services, digital treasury management solutions, risk management and cash investment products A...
Why CMOs Should Care About Customer IAM
By Darshana Gunawardana, Associate Director/Architect at WSO2 The surge to move online in 2020, in turn, has driven demand for...
Volkswagen faces EU fine for missing 2020 emissions targets
BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen faces a fine of more than 100 million euros ($121 million) for missing EU targets on...
Ahli Bank, Oman, is SunTec’s 50th customer for its Indirect Taxation Solution
SunTec’s GCC VAT compliance solution to help Ahli Bank automate end-to-end VAT compliance process, manage regulatory changes, and seamlessly integrate...
Oil dips after unexpected rise in U.S. crude stocks
By Ahmad Ghaddar LONDON (Reuters) – Oil slipped on Thursday after industry data showed a surprise increase in U.S. crude...
UK factories see big drop in output ahead, supply problems too
LONDON (Reuters) – British manufacturers expect a sharp fall in output in the three months ahead and there were widespread...
Britain’s EG Group appoints Rose as non-executive chairman
LONDON (Reuters) – British convenience store and fuel retailer EG Group said on Thursday it had appointed Ocado Chairman Stuart...
Bitcoin slumps 10% as pullback from record continues
LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin slumped 10% on Thursday to a 10-day low of $31,977 as the world’s most popular cryptocurrency...
European firms improve diversity scores in pandemic year, study finds
By Aida Pelaez-Fernandez (Reuters) – The number of major European companies with high participation of women in leadership positions has...
Bank of Japan lifts next year’s growth forecast, saves ammunition as virus risks linger
By Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto TOKYO (Reuters) – The Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady on Thursday and...