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Dispatch from the SCCE Compliance & Ethics Institute (Part Three)

After three decades in the field, I realized at the SCCE tenth annual conference that something new is taking shape. Let’s call it the second generation of compliance.

Compliance 1.0 was an off-shoot of in-house legal work done mostly by lawyers. Compliance 2.0 is a separate, yet-to-be-defined business discipline, inserted into the C-suite, inventing expertise for a mission-in-the-making.

The hallmarks of the second generation of compliance officers are advocacy and courage.

That’s where the SCCE comes in. Those allied with it knew before almost everyone else that compliance would be a dead-end of unfulfilled expectations unless the compliance profession radically redefined itself from a subset of the law department. The resistance was fierce.

Donna Boehme was one of the first chief ethics and compliance officers and the creator of a prototype compliance program for multinationals. She helped define and lead the critical fight. For that, the SCCE recognized Boehme’s courage in an award ceremony introduced by Joe Murphy, the SCCE’s direcctor of public policy.

“Donna lampooned the weak-kneed … who don’t want compliance people to do any actual work or ruffle any feathers, just be fluffy kittens, not lions who can roar and take real bites out of those who would misuse their power… She is the lion of compliance.”

Advocacy and tough advocates are central to compliance. Compliance officers must struggle to define their turf inside business organizations and also outside the company where, as I have posted, compliance is a system to be improved and used, like the SEC’s new Office of the Whistleblower, or like Walmart’s transformation.

Born of advocacy and courage, the second generation of compliance carries on a legacy that encourages the SCCE and compliance officers to continue to be visionary by defining the mission and winning the battles ahead.

Part One of this series is here and Part Two is here.


Michael Scher is a senior editor of the FCPA Blog. He has over three decades of experience as a senior compliance officer and attorney for international transactions. He can be contacted here.

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