The only way is ethics

The only way is ethics

Posted by Pete Loughlin in e-Procurement, e-Procurement Software 12 Apr 2012

Jason Busch drew attention to Ariba’s offer earlier this week in a blog post all about Ariba’s annual Las Vegas event. “Use Promo code TWTRCHP when you register for #AribaLIVE & get $250 #CaesarsPalace chips”

Promotional gifts are not unusual and as long as they are modest and proportionate in terms of their value and as long as they are fitting in terms of normal business practice and local convention few professionals would lose too much sleep over them. But local conventions differ enormously around the globe. The UK public sector is famously paranoid about accepting entertainment from potential suppliers even to the point of refusing biscuits at business meetings. Yet in contrast, it is an open secret that the UK defense industry will routinely equip its sales agents overseas with easily tradeable forms of currency in order to ensure that doors can be opened that lead to lucrative orders. It’s seen as a necessary evil that merely demonstrates an understanding of local customary business practice.

Of course there is and always will be grey areas but procurement professionals, those who lead by example and support their colleagues in ensuring proper procurement practice is followed, should know exactly how to behave when faced with a grey area. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.

I’m not going to judge whether offering $250 of gambling chips as a promotional gift is within a grey area or not. Ariba Live is held in Las Vegas after all but it is, to say the least, ironic and Ariba could appear to some to have demonstrated a lack of empathy for the professional principles of an important business function in which they claim leadership.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

  • Michael Bruening April 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm /


    interesting catch!

    In general I would say that the size, amount, type of gift has to be viewed in the context of the standard business ethics of the region in which the two business partners do business with each other. As you mention there are local habits in some parts of the world where personal contributions to decision makers are normal.

    Yet this specific example, if these are real chips, exchangeable for the same amount of money at the casino cashiers, makes me shiver. Maybe it is due to the fact that I am German? Accepting this gift as an employee of a publicly traded company in Germany would end in laying off this employee because he violated an anti-corruption policy. When I worked at Oracle for several years we had to undergo a business ethics training each year which also contained strict rules and undoubtedly accepting $250 would be a severe violation. So, I assume the “normal” business ethics are similar in the US, maybe even stricter than in Germany.

    Though Las Vegas is of course THE gambling capital in the world I cannot understand such a program. Okay, it is everyone’s own choice whether to accept it or not. But in my eyes Ariba motivates the conference participants to most probably violate their employer’s policies and risk their jobs. Don’t they?

    My personal view: thumbs down!


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