With corporate compliance and ethics now escalating to be a boardroom concern, and discussions around how to make organisations behave better are happening at the highest levels, what compliance lessons can all organisations learn from the never-ending fines being issued globally?

Firstly, I think we can all see that policies need to be implemented, not just written down.  How can you achieve this? By putting in place controls to measure the effectiveness of a policy and proactively uncover any potential issues that could result in non-compliance.  Let’s take a look at an example…

An organisation puts in place a code of conduct policy which includes how to deal with gifts & entertainment disclosures but does not provide a method by which these disclosures can be captured and measured. How does the organisation know if there are practices taking place which go against the corporate policy?  Organisations need to put in place controls and monitoring to make sure that policies are being followed correctly.

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Consistency and education are vital

Following on from this, it is important that compliance is consistent across the whole organisation and that everybody is following the same framework. Think about how policies and procedures are made available across the business to the relevant employees.  Implementing a consistent method helps provide compliance with better oversight and allows them to put in place ongoing monitoring and review. With the compliance monitoring being consistent across the organisation, the correct action can be taken if any vulnerabilities or violations are identified.

Finally, educating employees about company policies, rules, and regulations that come into play in their day to day job responsibilities is critical. This training is not just about promoting adherence to policies but also helps to detect and prevent improper conduct. We are not talking about one-off training here – this is a programme where employees are continuously educated on the organisation’s policies and standards. It is worth bearing in mind that a compliance education program can only be effective if a culture of commitment and compliance towards it is widely nurtured across the organisation.

I would also like to add that it is vitally important that organisations continually monitor and enhance their compliance programs and internal controls such as conducting ongoing reviews and introducing new policies where appropriate. This may likely involve increasing the resources dedicated to compliance, but would be a very wise investment.

Technology solutions can help an organization evolve properly

Implementing robust policy management technology enables organisations to deliver the right policies (whether these are new policies or updates to existing ones) to the right people, ensuring they become accountable by signing up to them and providing a detailed audit trail, reducing the risk of regulatory fines and reputational damage. Using a policy management solution means that employees are educated on policies in a consistent manner, using a method that can be repeatable across the organisation.

Alongside policy management technology, implementing an easy to use but highly effective workflow automation solution allows an organisation to monitor the effectiveness of their policies by logging & tracking disclosures through to resolution and identifying any potential issues.