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Focus Topics – Combating corruption

Combating corruption:

Upholding fairness and transparency in business

As clearly stated in our Code of Conduct, our business is based on the quality of our products and services and not on corrupt practices. We do not tolerate any form of bribery or corruption. Thanks to our “Combating corruption” efforts, we are addressing the material issue “Corruption & whistleblower protection” which has been identified in our double materiality assessment.

At the beginning of 2023, our CEO together with our Group Legal Counsel shared a video message addressed to all employees in which the paramount importance of our Code of Conduct was reiterated and the revision of the Code of Conduct and the updates contained were further explained.

Underlining our commitment to prevent all forms of bribery or corruption, our CEO has endorsed the Call-to-Action from business to governments. This initiative encourages collaboration in reinforcing governance and anti-corruption efforts and was launched by the UNGC. The Call-to-Action urges governments to highlight anti-corruption and good governance as fundamental pillars of a sustainable and inclusive global economy and embrace them as important principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Impacts, risks and opportunities


Corruption indirectly weakens the accountability and government structures that are supposed to protect human rights. Corruption and bribery can also directly impact human rights by bypassing the laws and tax systems intended to enforce and reinforce them through public education and other measures. By setting a positive example with a good corporate culture and by requiring our suppliers to do the same, we can have a positive impact beyond our own company to boost transparency in the whole supply chain.

Risks and opportunities

While corruption is a risk in all industries, it is generally perceived to be especially pronounced in the construction sectorthat we supply. Zehnder Group is headquartered in Switzerland and has a significant presence in the Netherlands and Germany. All these countries are within the top ten of the Corruption Perceptions Index2, indicating low levels of public sector corruption. At the same time, we also face location-specific risks, with some of our sites based in countries, such as China (rank 65/180) or Turkey (rank 101/180), that score somewhat poorly on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Corruption harms an entire industry, not just an individual company. This can result in a scenario where resources are not allocated economically, meaning that the optimal market solution may not prevail. This situation can negatively impact long-term innovation and the overall well-being of society. In essence, a potential bribery or corruption case could lead to significant legal and reputational repercussions. Therefore, we are firmly focused on investing in transparency and prevention measures as part of our compliance.

As stated in our Code of Conduct, we want to win over customers on the margins by convincing them with our product portfolios – and not with corrupt practices. With this attitude, we ensure long-time success through continuous innovation and improvements. There is also a great social opportunity to combat corruption as it is vital for the empowerment, participation and protection of people that belong to marginalised and vulnerable groups.

1 Source: PWC, 2014. Engineering and construction sector analysis of PwC’s 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey
2 The Corruption Perception Index has been published by Transparency International since 1995. It is an index which ranks countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.

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