President and Founder
Alexandra Wrage is president and founder of TRACE. She has authored and edited several books, most recently Corrosive: Corruption and its Consequences. Ms. Wrage hosts the popular weekly podcast Bribe, Swindle or Steal. She speaks and writes frequently on transparency, good governance and the hidden costs of corruption.
Ms. Wrage was named one of the “Canadians Changing the World” by the Toronto Globe & Mail and one of Maryland’s “Top 100 Women” by the Daily Record. She has been awarded the Women in Compliance “Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Compliance Industry.”
Ms. Wrage’s insight has been solicited by the U.S. Department of Justice, UK Serious Fraud Office, City of London Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, U.S. Department of State, intergovernmental organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and United Nations Global Compact, and FIFA’s failed reform committee.
She is a member of the B20 Task Force on Anti-Corruption. Raised in Canada and living now in the United States, Ms. Wrage studied law at King’s College, Cambridge University. She has provided anti-bribery consulting or training in over 140 countries.
What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the world of commerce and contracting?
Alexandra is an attorney by training, and she spent several years as in-house counsel at well-known corporations before pursuing her own business venture. She founded TRACE International, the non-profit business association dedicated to anti-bribery and good governance, in 2001 because she recognized a commercial need for standardized compliance resources and tools. She founded TRACE Inc., which works alongside TRACE International, in 2007 to meet compliance and risk management demands that did not fall under the scope of the shared-cost model.
Alexandra is a pioneer and champion for ethical business: At the time when she founded TRACE, most companies paid little attention to anti-bribery compliance. She has continued to pave the way for good corporate governance, as TRACE has evolved and grown with changing global regulatory environments and industry needs. TRACE now has more than 500 members and clients, and Alexandra has helped thousands of companies worldwide raise their ethics and governance standards. Her proactive approach to anti-corruption—through training, due diligence and risk management—helps prevent bribes from being paid by companies in the first place, ultimately preventing financial crime that enables pervasive global issues such as trafficking and terrorism.
What are two personal achievements and contributions through your career.
Innovation and entrepreneurship:
Innovation and entrepreneurship were the driving forces behind TRACE’s inception: When anti-bribery was an afterthought for most companies, Alexandra’s answer was to create a global standard. She works tirelessly to advance the global anti-bribery agenda, responding to economic, industry and regulatory changes and constantly inventing new resources and tools to help companies commit to ethical business.
Alexandra established TRACEcertification, a detailed due diligence review, analysis and approval process that has become widely recognized, in 2012. Companies can share their TRACEcertification reports with an unlimited number of potential business partners. TRACE Certified entities are pre-vetted and trained business partners for multinational organizations, many of which rely on TRACEcertification as an essential part of their due diligence process.
Making a positive difference:
In furtherance of TRACE’s mission, Alexandra gives back through the TRACE Foundation, which promotes, supports and funds research, investigative journalism, publications and related projects that encourage greater commercial transparency and advance anti-bribery education. The annual TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting recognizes journalism that uncovers business-related bribery and financial crime. Past recipients include journalists from Iraq, Kenya, Peru and Europe whose reporting have made a tangible impact in the fight against corruption.
Covid-19 has illustrated the critical importance of helping women to realise their professional aspirations - what role have you played or are you currently playing within your organization to support women in their roles?
A women-led company, TRACE works to empower and support its majority-female staff. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TRACE was swift in implementing flexible working policies to meet the increased demand childcare has placed on women.
Alexandra advocates for gender parity in the global workforce and has written and spoken extensively on the benefits women bring to corporate governance. When Alexandra launched the TRACE Intermediary Directory of TRACE Certified entities, she included a function that allows businesses—many of them small- and medium-sized intermediaries in emerging markets—to identify if they are over 50 percent women-owned. Additionally, Alexandra supports gender inclusivity in her field, and she has previously chaired the Women in International Regulatory Law Steering Committee.