By Vladimir Tax
The continuing unsatisfactory situation has inspired Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation which focuses on fighting corruption, to set up an initiative called Viva Etika aimed at improving business ethics in the Czech Republic. We asked David Ondracka, the Transparency International project manager, to tell us more:
"Viva Etika is a project of Transparency International and Transparency International tries to pull together companies, organisations and their experiences, and the aim is to promote business ethics in the Czech Republic and to actively contribute to the improvement of the Czech business environment."
How does Viva Etika work? What project does it organise? What are the ways to improve business ethics in the Czech Republic?
"At the moment, we are at the beginning. We have just made this coalition of companies and our aim is to bring in new members and to expand this coalition. The specific projects we are doing, first of all, we are trying to provide information. We made an internet-based information centre, then we will organise some charity and we would like also to cooperate with students and business schools."
The founding members of Viva Etika include mainly the Czech branches of large multi-national corporations, such as Shell, Monsanto, GE Capital Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Johnson&Johnson, to mention just a few. Steffen Brygger is the executive director of the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme:
"I think business ethics need improvement also in this country. We see it in our area of health care, of course. More concretely, for example reimbursement of drugs, it is a fact that in this area we need to see more transparent, verifiable and objective criteria. It is moving in this country but we still have a way to go."
As far as corruption is concerned, the Czech Republic occupies the 37th place on Transparency International's corruption index chart, far behind most of the developed countries of Europe, North America and Asia. David Ondracka says corruption is a really urgent problem here in the Czech Republic.
"According to surveys - which are, of course, not always an objective source of information - but according to our surveys we have corruption as one of the main problems in the Czech business environment. On the other hand, there are many different types of corruption and not all of them have the same strength. But in general, we see corruption as one of the main threats for the transparency and cleanness of the Czech business environment."