I am writing this today from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) 2017 Compliance and Ethics Institute (CEI). This is the largest annual gathering of compliance professionals anywhere and it is already off to a great start on the Sunday pre-conference events. I participated in two such events the Speed-Networking and Speed-Monitoring and my participation in both events informs today’s blog post.

In both sessions I met with some compliance professionals who were either new to the field or were one-person compliance shops in their organizations. They were struggling with where to go for resources and support. In speaking with both groups of folks, I tried to drive home a couple of key components of the SCCE 2017 CEI and beyond that which I believe are central to the experience of compliance professionals literally across the world.

The compliance profession is different than any other corporate profession that I have been a part of or have observed. The first is that there are no trade secrets in compliance to protect. The principals of a best practices compliance program are well-known. Whether you follow the Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program, the Six Principles of Adequate Procedures, the US Sentencing Guidelines or some other recognized standard; every compliance practitioner has access to them. You can always adapt them to your organization.

The second thing about the compliance profession is that you are never alone. Unlike other corporate functions where lawyers from major energy companies are all in room, which might draw the attention of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Anti-Trust division, the compliance function is well known for its collaborativeness. A compliance professional can pick up the phone and call another compliance professional who has faced the same or similar situation. Even if this first level of contact does not have the experience required, there will be someone in the concentric circles outward who has faced the same dilemma.

For a new compliance professional the most expeditious thing to do is join your local ethics and compliance organization. For Houston, that is the Greater Houston Business and Ethics Roundtable (GHBER). From the national perspective, the largest organization by far is the SCCE. Membership not only gives you access to a wide range of conferences, resources and tutorials but also membership in a diverse group of like-minded professionals.

Jay Rosen and I were joined by Louis Sapirman, Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) at Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. (DNB), to record our first live podcast of This Week in FCPA. The recording can be found on my Facebook feed and I will post the audio portion as a podcast later this week. Both spoke expressively about not only what they saw at the event but also how this conference allowed them both the opportunity to give back to the profession of which they have both been a part for several years. It was eloquent testament to the character of those in the compliance profession.

My thought to the compliance professional out there is that you are not alone. All you have to do is reach out and there will be someone there to answer your question. I met a female compliance professional from the mid-west who was looking for a female compliance mentor in the Chicago area. I later saw one of my good friends who fits that bill to the letter. I asked her if she would be willing to mentor the woman and she immediately responded yes.

Her response speaks directly to what makes the compliance profession so unique. Immediate outreach followed by immediate acceptance. Compliance professionals are always willing to help out other compliance professionals. This is very different from the mental makeup of the corporate legal department which circles the wagons to fulfill its role to protect the corporation.

The evening’s event was a tailgate held in the section of the conference where the vendors are located. People were encouraged to wear shirts from their favorite teams and many of did. Needless to say, my Astros jersey was well received. But more than using sports favorites to break the ice, the event held more importance for the compliance profession. Unlike many other conferences, at SCCE vendors are viewed as part of the solution to compliance. Many vendors now gear their marketing efforts around the CEI and will announce new products or service offering at the conference. This makes it a quite exciting time, with many innovative practices appearing on the compliance scene.

If you are not at this year’s event, I hope you will mark it down on your calendar. It is scheduled to return to Caesar’s Palace next October from the 14th to the 19th. I hope you will plan to join. I guarantee it will be worth your while. If you are at this year’s event I hope you will join myself and Louis Sapirman Monday as we speak on the convergence of many different forms of compliance such as anti-corruption compliance, export control compliance, anti-money laundering compliance, data protection compliance and finally as we all learned last week that sexual harassment is a compliance issue and how Harvey Weinstein may change the face of compliance as we know it going forward.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2017