How to Deal with Bribes in the Workplace

In March 2017, The Hague Academy convened a two-week training on integrity and anti-corruption. The course explored many topics, including the difficulties and the dilemmas of trust. One of our experts during the course provided insights into how he dealt with a situation when he was offered a “gift” by a business associate. And he explained how different actors have important roles and responsibilities in promoting integrity in their own organisations.


The Asian Development Bank defines bribery as the act of offering, giving, receiving or soliciting – directly or indirectly – anything of value to influence improperly the actions of another party. A bribe can be disguised as a gift, money, property, privilege, or even a personal favour. In today’s global economy, it could happen that at one point you may find yourself in a similar situation.

Here are some tips on how to deal with bribery in the workplace:

When you are offered a bribe directly, assess the situation first.
Someone attempting to bribe you may apply a great deal of pressure on you to accept it. Assess whether declining the bribe could make things more complicated or could lead to a hostile situation. Be particularly cautious when dealing with someone who has power or is part of the same organisation you are in.

Maintain presence of mind.
A bribe can come in moments when you least expect it. In the event that you get caught off guard, try your best to take note of important details – who is bribing you; when and where were you approached; and what is being offered and what is at stake. These are specifics that can help back up your claim.

Be sure to notify your superior immediately and provide a full account of what took place.
Timing is essential here. Choosing to delay notifying the proper authorities could put your integrity and credibility in question. Informing your supervisor or a person in authority is the most important thing to do if you are ever offered a bribe.

Related Reading

More tips can be found on the website of the Asian Development Bank. And visit our open subscription course page for information about upcoming courses in 2018.

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