Gifts & Hospitality

Say you’re involved in a tender process with a company, and a competitor takes the client on a weekend trip to the French alps. Is that considered cheating?

Man looking at enormous gift

The power of gifts

Excessive gifts and hospitality is a form of corruption. By allowing this to take place in business, we block out those who can’t afford it.

We have a firm gifts and hospitality policy. We prefer not to give gifts and hospitality, and we never accept gifts valued above $75. Although a challenge when conducting operations in more than 60 countries and selling to around 160, we hope our efforts to eliminate excessive gifts will inspire others to follow our example.

We have these firm rules to ensure equal opportunity for all, but is it really that big of a deal? The short, definitive answer is yes.

Is it cheating?

Gifts and hospitality is an increasing  challenge in today’s business landscape. Enormous bribes can be concealed with small boxes of jewelry, and informal obligations can be formed even before the official tender has begun. Gifts and hospitality disguised as an act of kindness could really be a calibrated effort to influence decisions or take advantage of the desire to do business. How can gifts hold this much power?

A gift or a curse?

Gifts and hospitality can twist business decisions from a place of objectivity to personal loyalty . It is scientifically proven that gifts evoke an obligation of reciprocity, i.e. the obligation to give when you receive1. Researchers within the field of persuasion have seen that people can use gifts and hospitality to form social contracts and manipulate decisions.

Research suggests that when people reciprocate with their own gift, they often feel obliged to give slightly more than they initially received. Not only could this severely influence tender processes, but it could create an exponential spiral of conflicts of interest and unethical costumer relations.

Culture and gift giving

So, are all gifts manipulative and evil? Of course not. However, it is highly important to be aware of how one could influence others through gift giving or receiving. We encourage all our employees to think twice before receiving any gift. Further, we hope everyone we work with understands  this policy as a step towards breaking the chain of corruption and unfair business practices.

Read more about our gifts and hospitality policy in our Code of Conduct

1. Cialdini, R. B. (1987). Influence (Vol. 3). Port Harcourt: A. Michel.