Fraud is a very real consideration for businesses large and small across the UK. There are a seemingly limitless number of potential threats which pray on the smallest oversight or the slightest hint of corporate complacency, resulting in losses for the UK economy of over £85bn in the last year alone. Fraud is in a constant state of evolution; for every scam identified, a new one is born which exploits a new weakness entirely.

A free company check and other pre-emptive measures

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Thankfully however, there are a number of pre-emptive measures businesses can take to significantly improve their financial security. The recent financial crisis provided the ideal conditions for fraud to flourish. A number of companies offer a free company check service, which allows businesses to determine the financial stability of a potential debtor, along with their track record in business, before they agree to a deal. Whilst such simple checks are now carried out as a matter of course, during the financial crisis, many firms were so eager to do business they neglected to carry out any fraud prevention checks before signing on the dotted line. For companies in need of financial assistance a business loan service like Everline is always available, but make sure you have a plan set in place on how to pay it back on time!

The importance of gender equality

Commonly we think of fraud as an act committed by an external entity, yet insider fraud poses one of the greatest threats to UK businesses today. Recent research by three professors from Hong Kong and Chinese business schools has uncovered an unlikely insider fraud prevention technique with a marked effect on the occurrence of fraud.

The research examined the importance of a female presence on the boards of leading Chinese firms, and the impact this had on the level of securities fraud within financial firms. The results indicated that businesses with an increased number of women in high level positions experienced a reduction in the instances of securities fraud.

An explanation of the findings

The study looked closely at over 1,400 alleged cases of securities fraud in Far Eastern businesses over a ten-year period. The evidence strongly supported the premise that boards of directors dominated by men are more likely to be involved in fraudulent practice.

The explanation provided by the professors centred on the integral role gender diversity has to play in creating a behavioural balance. They argued that, rather than being more honest than men, women simply lean towards more risk adverse decisions in financial matters. This is in stark contrast to the natural tendencies of men, who are prone to risky financial decisions without due consideration for their shareholders’ or stakeholders’ interests.

The benefits of diversity

Embracing gender equality at the top of the business hierarchy could help to reduce the risk of insider fraud, and in this case, securities fraud. It is estimated that corporations lose up to five percent of their revenue as a result of fraud every year. However, this simple measure could help to prevent fraud in the following ways:

  • Increasing the number of women in the workplace broadens a business’ skill set
  • A more diverse workforce results in a greater divergence of opinion, ultimately improving decision making
  • More varied opinions improve internal discussions and increase the scrutiny of decisions

If you would like to share your views about the role of gender diversity in reducing the risk of fraud, we would love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Featured image credit: Strong superhero child/ShutterStock

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