YOUR MISSION: DO THE RIGHT THING.
You constantly focus on nurturing an ethical workforce, but it’s a daunting task. Regulations are changing by the day. Your workforce is changing by the day as well…growing, hiring, retiring. It most likely spans many cultures and generations.
And new ethical dilemmas that confront your workforce appear seemingly out of nowhere: an account executive offers a gift to a customer during a site visit; an employee unwittingly shares confidential information with a competitor; a distributor offers a bribe to expedite a shipment. The risks are real. When ethical violations occur, they can lead to expensive litigation, damage to your reputation, and a hit to your bottom line. And your mission to do the right thing, leading your organization’s Ethics and Compliance Program, can go down in flames.
So what can you do to make sure your mission is a success?
Your Five Key Elements for a Successful Ethics and Compliance Program
There are a wide range of initiatives you need to monitor from mission control, but the good news is that the US Sentencing Commission and other regulatory bodies have started you off in the right direction. They’ve developed comprehensive guidelines for implementing a stable and effective Ethics and Compliance Program. We’ve distilled them down for you into 5 key elements your program needs.
Following these guidelines helps minimize the risk that unethical conduct poses to your organization. They help you proactively address questions that come up around business integrity, workforce values, and data privacy. When scenarios like receiving improper gifts, or sharing private information through social media come up, your workforce is ready for them.
Let’s take a look….
Code of Conduct
An effective Code of Conduct serves as a central guide as well as a reference for users in support of day-to-day decision making. It’s meant to clarify an organization’s mission, values and principles, tying them directly to standards and expectations of professional conduct. Think of it as a table of contents used to easily find relevant policies, training and other resources related to ethics topics within your organization.
Leadership & Oversight
Like any organization-wide initiative, support from the top is mission-critical. This starts with establishing a senior-level Compliance Officer with the authority and know how to manage your Ethics Program. Additionally, your executive team and Board of Directors should take an active role in your compliance efforts. They should act as ethics “champions” both internally to the workforce, and externally to customers, business partners and investors.
The third element of an effective Ethics Program is training…specifically training that maps back to your Code of Conduct. For your Ethics Program to succeed you must train your managers, employees, and third parties on relevant laws, regulations, internal policies, and prohibited conduct. You can ask your workforce to review all
of the policies in the world, but if you don’t reinforce your policies’ messages and recommendations with solid training, it’s impossible to cultivate a culture of ethics within your workforce.
How do you prove that your program is taken seriously? The answer: Create a closed feedback loop by instituting a whistleblowing and reporting program. With a feedback loop in place, you are encouraging your workforce to speak up, and demonstrating that they are heard. Help your employees be your first line of defense against unethical behavior and serve as ambassadors of ethical conduct. With a whistleblowing and reporting process in place, you empower your employees to help police your company – so the government doesn’t have to.
Monitor, Review & Improve
How do you know your Ethics Program is effective? It is not enough to disseminate your Code of Conduct and training to your workforce and hope they stick. You need systems in place that ensure your program is meeting your awareness and education objectives. A workforce compliance automation platform can track your policy sign-offs and training completions to ensure there are no gaps in your program. And, of course, what gets measured gets improved. Having access to reports that show the gaps in your program help you quickly drill down into issues.
Your mission is a difficult one. You need to protect your organization from ethical violations that wreak havoc on your organization’s bottom line and reputation.
Using workforce compliance automation to manage the communication of policies and training that address your organization’s highest risk areas helps you keep up with ever-changing regulations and let you confront new or problematic ethical battles head-on.