White-collar crime is arguably the costliest crime in modern society – and yet one with remarkably low conviction rates attached to it. The term is a transplant from US culture, where ‘blue-collar’ and ‘red-collar’ similarly denominate social- and class-based cultures or communities.

According to a recent survey, nearly a third of us feel that white-collar crime – including tax fraud, embezzlement and theft – has risen. As a business, you may be affected by this, whether through bad actors within the business or without. What can you do to protect your business?

Robust Recruitment
Embroilment in criminal investigations, even if brought on by a single ‘bad apple’ within your company, can be nothing short of disastrous for your business. From a PR perspective, you could lose favour with your customer base and wider demographic; from an industry perspective, you could lose the trust of your partners and collaborators, negatively impacting your footprint and your opportunities for growth.

Controlling the flow of personnel, then, is an important aspect of keeping your business clean. Working with reliable recruitment companies can ensure that prospective employees are properly screened on their way in, dramatically reducing the possibility that you hire a bad actor. As well as third-party checks, you should ensure you have your own internal background checking process in order to properly screen employees.

Strong Internal Controls
Internal measures should not stop with background checks. There needs to be a strictly-enforced code of conduct within the business, which explicitly outlines the various behaviours or activities deemed unacceptable – including precursors to fraudulent or otherwise criminal activity.
On the logistical side of things, comprehensive logs for everything from business accounts to petty cash and even workplace stationery should be kept and monitored. This disincentivises the theft of property or embezzlement of funds.

Transparency and Trust
An iron fist is not the sole, true answer to solving for crime risk within your business. It is just as important, if not more so, to establish a company culture of transparency and trust, in order to minimise barriers to the sharing of information or concerns.

Whistleblowing is a vital thing to protect, particularly in larger-scale businesses where bad actors in middle management can hold undue levels of control over concerned employees; a confidential and ringfenced line of contact for whistleblowers to safely share information should be established and protected.

Ongoing Protection
Ensuring all these protections and processes are in place is a strong step towards protecting your business from the eventuality of white-collar crime; however, it does not wholly protect from that eventuality. Having an advisory team on hand for white-collar crime is crucial for handling instances should they occur. It speaks to the wider importance of remaining constantly vigilant for the potentiality for criminal activity. This also covers the partners and vendors with which you work, where constant oversight of invoices and collaborations can ke