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Bill Steinman
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Action plan: Bring compliance to life in 2016

As you look back on the past year, you will surely find some anti-corruption compliance victories  — even as there are undoubtedly still areas of needed improvement.

As a starting point in the transition to 2016, consider how your program has “matured” over the past year.

For example:

Do you now have a new or revised code of conduct or anti-corruption policy in place?

Did you start introducing policies, procedures, and controls that are more operationally oriented to better address your company’s unique corruption risk profile?

Did you begin to train not only relevant personnel but also higher risk agents? 

Did you conduct one or more audits within the higher risk agent group to confirm the reps and warranties in your agreements?

Make sure improvements are documented and placed in the compliance program’s system of record, and that those you report to are aware of what was accomplished during 2015.

Now, in 2016, build upon this momentum.

Identify ways compliance can align with and support business priorities. Map out associated actions, policies and procedures, and implement them.

“Leverage, leverage, leverage” is the CCO’s equivalent of the mantra used by real estate professionals to evaluate properties: “location, location, location.” How can you get more personnel from different parts of the company involved in anti-corruption compliance this year?

Local support personnel are essential to implementing policies, procedures, and controls. But could they be more effective if given the chance? And what about operational and non-local personnel as compliance ambassadors?

For example, consider including employees at different levels and from various operating and support groups on an anti-corruption compliance committee (or in an overall company compliance group). Solicit their feedback about the real issues associated with program implementation and operation, and about the most effective ways to communicate with them and their peers.

Conference-in remote employees. The more personnel involved with anti-corruption compliance, the more you will see overall “buy in.” And the more remote personnel who get directly involved, the greater the chance of minimizing the “us versus them” mentality that sometimes exists between the field and HQ. 

Compliance is sometimes viewed as dry, humorless, and reliant on the same old “thou shalt not” messaging. In 2016, bust that perception.

Among the possibilities:

Get closer to the sales group. Book a speaking slot at the national sales meeting (or equivalent) for a special guest speaker such as Richard Bistrong to tell his own powerful “slippery slope” pro-compliance story. Hint: If you do this with no prior general publicity (senior management’s prior authorization is usually advisable), attendees may be less likely to skip out.

Use humor. Put on a skit that depicts the “proud accomplishments” of compliance (aka “Sales Prevention”) as it reduces compliance risk by weaning others off the “obsession with revenue” — followed by a quick run through by the CCO of actual instances where the compliance function has worked in tandem with operations to facilitate good business.

Use video. Send short clips (several compliance vendors offer them) as a still relatively unconventional compliance communications technique. This could become the break-room discussion topic of choice for a day or two. The better video clips can make an impact even though they’re short.

Finally, keep an eye on Hui Chen. Track what the DOJ’s new compliance counsel is saying in her public appearances and through DOJ releases (the FCPA Blog is a good place to stay on top of the news). Knowing what the DOJ’s compliance expert is saying should be a core activity for any serious corporate anti-corruption compliance officer in 2016.

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Worth MacMurray is the U.S. General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at GAN Integrity Inc.

Melanie Reed is an Anti-corruption Consultant at GAN Integrity Inc.

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