While companies like to view Europe as a single market when it comes to compliance, the reality is that each country still has its own unique challenges and expectations. Ethisphere recently connected with dozens of French compliance leaders to discuss today’s best practices across France.
We hosted two events in Paris. The first, a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer roundtable, was co-hosted with The Boeing Company. It was a closed-door conversation among leading General Counsels and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers. The invite-only audience consisted of leaders from multinational companies headquartered around the globe.
The second event, the Paris Compliance Forum, was co-hosted with the Paris-based La Cercle de la Compliance, a French membership association of compliance and ethics professionals across France and neighboring countries. It was a larger gathering of more than 40 individuals from around France.
Key takeaways from the 2016 Paris roundtable and Forum are:
1) French companies do not yet have the same consistency in the implementation of compliance programs as their U.S. and UK counterparts.
2) Convincing corporate leadership (CEO, Board, etc.) to buy into a program is paramount.
3) Companies operating in France must be very sensitive to data privacy regulations that often are more stringent than in neighboring countries.
Attendees at the Round Table talked about localizing the Code of Conduct and its importance in communicating in different languages to employees. In some cases, videos and other types of media are used within the Code to help employees understand their responsibilities.
Culture and multi-jurisdictional influence remain critical factors that shape a company’s Code of Conduct. “Scenario synopses should be done in different languages and compliance officers should also focus on the messaging,” said one attendee.
Executive involvement remains a key issue and for some attendees. Employing full-time ethics leaders can help set the tone for the right messaging. “These ethics leaders sit with executives to continually address ethical issues the business and industry faces,” said an attendee. “Providing regular updates and discussing corrective action are also helpful.”
At monthly business meetings, “integrity owners” should provide discussion topics to the business leads to share during their meetings. One attendee added that “Companies should consider the shift from ‘Compliance Program’ to ‘Integrity Program’ because this can have a different impact on the business and how employees respond to ethical dilemmas.”
More details on Ethisphere’s 2017 programs are here.