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Nicole Rose: If compliance were an Olympic sport, what would it be?

The Olympics are on and everywhere I go people are excited and inspired. I personally feel that just by watching, I’m part of something great. 

With such mass interest and engagement, it made me think: if compliance were an Olympic sport, what categories would it compete in?

Here are my thoughts:

  • Pole vaulting over corruption in high-risk countries
  • Freestyle swimming through compliance budget cuts
  • Playing badminton with the executive committee to approve compliance policies
  • 100-yard sprint to complete the annual training requirement for the year
  • Weight lifting third-party due diligence
  • Table tennis through contractual negotiations with suppliers and agents

And while compliance professionals may not be actual Olympians, I think it’s worth recognizing that there are some similar attributes needed as part of their role.

The diligence, thoroughness, determination, commitment, perseverance and tireless discipline required in the role of compliance are in my view, akin to that of a professional athlete.

But, as we all know, compliance professionals’ efforts are not enough. Leaders, management and company employees need to be the ones who are setting the standards and, more importantly, complying with them.

So why not use the Olympic fever to stir up some excellence in compliance!

There is no better time to inspire people to go the extra mile, jump that extra hurdle and exceed their compliance goals. It’s a great time for a campaign to perhaps win gold in recording benefits or set a new record for the amount of training done. People love a challenge, so why not embrace it.

There is also no better time, when people are already experiencing and embracing different types of sports via the Olympics, to introduce new compliance concepts and ideas. Here’s a great story to illustrate this.

As part of a training revamp with a particular company, we announced to certain employees that we had considered their risk profile and decided they didn’t need as much training on certain corruption risks.  I will never forget one lady, who turned round and said (I am paraphrasing), “I may not encounter those risks on a day-to-day basis but I still want to learn what is happening in the company I work for.”

This wise woman taught me an important lesson that day. We get so caught up in the idea that compliance is unpopular or takes up too much time that we forget that it can also actually be something that people may want to know about. 

We may not have the time to go to the lengths that Olympians go to in order to achieve their results, but that’s no reason to think that people get to be average or do “just enough” when it comes to compliance. So I guess I forgot the most important event in my list above: Mountain bike riding through all the excuses that we hear when it comes to compliance.

I wish you all the best of luck to win a gold medal in your chosen category.


Nicole Rose is CEO of Create Training. She’s a lawyer, trainer, writer and artist. Together with her team of animators and artists, Create Training has been making compliance training videos for learners around the world. It can customize training in any language and also has a collection of animated compliance training videos Follow her on Twitter @createtraining2. Contact her here.

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