Compliance and Ethics Program Management
This is the most involved and all-encompassing of all of the services that Integrity Leadership Partners offers. This is because the breath of an organization’s Compliance and Ethics program is like a large umbrella that covers over all of the organizations standards, policies, procedures and practices as well as the applicable legal laws and regulations wherever the organization does business. Wow….yes, no kidding!
So, what does Program Management look like for the organization which wants to provide the best for its stakeholders in the area of ethical leadership? First off, for proper program management, it is imperative that the Board of Directors supports a compliance and ethics policy that includes a code of conduct and goes along with a very planned, organized and controlled approach to defining and measuring program roles and responsibilities.
A well-orchestrated Compliance and Ethics program is much like any successfully performed sporting activity where certain fundamental moves are practiced and rehearsed until they are near or at perfection. The well-organized and orchestrated compliance and ethics program contains fundamental management practices that increase the organization’s likelihood of ongoing winning success.
Some of the major steps of setting up a Compliance and Ethics program include those items listed below. Some are followed with a question(s) or comment about how the steps are used in the overall program management process.
- Review company vision, mission and value statements. (How do they align with the code? What actions have been taken to help realize these statements?)
- Periodically, assess all major compliance and ethics risk areas. (This will likely be at least 10 different areas of the business and should include evaluating the organization’s culture.)
- Develop and support detailed policies and processes that support the code.
- Decide where the compliance and ethics function best fits within the organization. (Will the Compliance and Ethics operational manager/director report directly to the Board of Directors?)
- Provide ‘Effective’ promotion, communications and training. (What is the organization’s promotion and training strategy?)
- Assure monitoring and auditing. (How will the organization be able to explain how it is monitoring and auditing not only its workforces but also its compliance and ethics program? Is there a provision for no call tracking for whistleblowers?)
- Provide standard guidelines for how investigations are to be done. (How are investigators trained? How does a compliance and ethics investigation differ from other types of organization investigations? When wrongdoing is confirmed, how does the organization assure consistent discipline is assessed based on other similar situations?)
- Provide periodic reports to leadership on key aspects of the program. (How does the program report data talk to organization? How can the organization benchmark against others and then seek to continuously improve its program?)
- Take what you learn and pay it forward. (Is there a leadership commitment to take what the organization has learned and share it with others, i.e. suppliers, customers, industry partners, etc.. for the betterment of all?)
The ILPartners Approach to program management is always to listen first and try to understand the current conditions and what the client envisions for the organization. Using its background and experiences ILPartners team with its client to present improvement ideas, and how ILPartners services can be utilized to help the client provide for professional program management.
Because program management can be very time consuming in getting started, timelines are often developed to help identify goals and set time targets for the improvements desired. Eating the elephant a piece at a time makes lots of sense!”
There are many reasons for an organization to support resources to create and maintain a ‘real and authentic’ Compliance and Ethics program. A few of these are listed below. See number three for a comment on what a ‘real and authentic’ program means.
- It lets employees, owners, and other stakeholders clearly know what the company values in its operations and if backed up with management walking the talk, then stakeholders feel happier about where they work or what they have a stake in. Happy workers most often equate to more productive workers who are proud of where they work and what they do. They get it; they understand the purpose of the work and their role in fulfilling the company’s vision and mission.
- It’s a good marketing tool for customers, suppliers, new recruits and employee retention. When poor ethical practices are seen or experienced at a firm, it can be just like the person who purchased the ‘lemon’ of car where surveys have shown ‘lemon’ car owners going to great lengths to make sure others do not purchase a car like they did.
- Should the organization be convicted of a criminal offense, having and being able to prove that the organization had an effective Compliance and Ethics program, can reduce significantly any imposed fine from the US Federal court system. (Reference Chapter 8 of the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations.)
- Lastly, sound program management centered on a well written code of conduct that has teeth in its enforcement, serves as a deterrent to others who may be considering violating the code rules. Making sure the code and all of its underlying procedures are enforced is one of the best ways to assure the program installed is real and working, and it is not just a ‘paper’ program set up to appease an outside regulator or auditor.
Why is it important?
With the above thoughts in mind as to why a firm should espouse an effective Compliance and Ethics program, why do some organizations still struggle to either support a program at all or fall short of having a less than a real and authentic or effective program?
For starters, people are human, and humans are imperfect, especially when profit seeking goals are given too high of a priority and ‘less than most-ethical decisions’ are made. Some of these decisions may be made with actual malice, however, often employees and others believe they are doing what they are being paid to do, i.e. help the organization be most profitable.