Section 5

Leading for the Future

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Sit at the Center of Reshaping Business

Explore how visionary compliance professionals innovate business practices to ensure their compliance programs and organizations keep pace with ever-evolving business trends.


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The most effective compliance professionals are ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding the industry and getting in front of organizational and regulatory changes. Along with being skilled forecasters and diligent program orchestrators, compliance leaders know that the future of compliance is culture. Forward thinking organizations strive to build a culture where all employees know that doing the right thing is expected, understand the standards that apply to them and are confident their management is committed to operating with integrity.

This section will highlight the importance of your corporate culture and the best practices that will help ensure your organization’s culture is aligned with your compliance program’s and organization’s goals. It will also provide insight into the direction the world of compliance is headed and how we can continue to be as prepared as possible to lead our organizations effectively into the brave new world of compliance. 

Sexual Harassment | "What's Next in Compliance"

Matt Kelly provides proven, best practice advice on preventing sexual harassment in organizations. Uncover some thoughtful ways your organization can better approach this global issue.

For more guidance on preventing workplace harassment, read the Preventing Workplace Harassment & Strengthening Culture eBook on Compliance Next.

Listen to the podcast:

Let's talk about sexual harassment.

          "Clearly this was a surprise issue for ethics and compliance in 2017 and it's not going to go away in 2018. So, how can ethics and compliance officers think about this subject? What role can the compliance function play to confront this problem? Well, a few ideas come to mind.

          First, companies should make sure that their basic policy housekeeping is in order. This is especially important for smaller, younger companies and those experiencing rapid growth. It may not always be clear to employees what your policies around harassment, dating or fraternization actually are. Similarly, senior executives might need clearer policies on how to investigate allegations of harassment, when to terminate employees, or how to handle litigation. So right away, compliance officers can team up with HR and legal to look at these basic block and tackle kind of functions.

          But even then, let's say you have the right policies, they've been fitted to your risks, you're communicating them, you're training employees and asking them to certify compliance. That's great. But step two is a fresh look at your anti-harassment programs because let's be honest, some portion of people do take the training, they do certify compliance and then they act like jerks anyways.

          Training that says harassment is unacceptable is really only the bare minimum. Companies need to reconsider how they work to eradicate harassment as a whole enterprise the same way that everybody on a team might work to hit a sales goal or to launch new products. If we want all employees to speak up about harassment problems more freely, they're going to need access to critical tools like a whistleblower hotline and other internal reporting mechanisms to achieve that goal. Compliance officers can play a role here too by figuring out how to leverage the internal reporting system to foster a stronger anti-harassment culture.

          Here's an example of what I mean. I know of one large hospital system where all the managers are required to report allegations of harassment to HR anytime they receive them. At the same time, the HR department is training employees extensively on how the hotline is always a tool they can use to report harassment to HR directly. If an allegation does reach HR through the hotline, HR then circles back to the complainant's manager and asks, "Did you know about this? If you did, why didn't you tell us like you should have? If you didn't know about it, why didn't you?" Essentially the hospital is using the hotline to pressure managers to take harassment allegations more seriously.

          Moreover, this hospital system is consistently rated as one of the best places to work for women in the United States. That truly is ethics and compliance innovation. Pushing your company away from rogue compliance training and towards a more vigorous change in culture is the sort of idea you want to copy for your own organization. Harassment is a subject where the ethics and compliance officer is going to need to work with senior executives, in a coaching or cheerleading role, encouraging them to model the behavior they want to see.

          The truth is you can't delegate the ethics of being a respectful coworker. You can't automate good conduct among employees. What this means is senior leaders have work to do. They need to be talking about respectful workplaces and holding offenders accountable, even when those offenders are key employees. This is how you nurture a corporate culture that fights harassment rather than one that just endures it. Now, will these three steps solve all our harassment problems in 2019? No, but statistics show companies are getting better at preventing harassment. It's going to be a persistent problem for some time yet. Ethics and compliance functions will need to do their part here because we're going to keep fighting this battle for quite some time."