What is the message of compliance inside of a corporation and how it is distributed? In a compliance program, the largest portion of your consumers/customers are your employees. Social media presents some excellent mechanisms to communicate the message of compliance going forward. Many of the applications that we use in our personal communication are free or available at very low cost. So why not take advantage of them and use those same communication tools in your internal compliance marketing efforts going forward.
On a Social Media Examiner podcast entitled “Social Sharing: How to Inspire Fans to Share Your Stories”, Michael Stelzner, interviewed Simon Mainwaring, author of “We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World”, who discussed three key components to successful marketing, (1) Let your employees know what you stand for; (2) Celebrate their efforts; and (3) Give them a tool kit of different ways to participate. I think each of these concepts can play a key role for the compliance practitioner in internally marketing their compliance program.
Let Your Employees Know What You Stand For
In the 2012 FCPA Guidance, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that the basis of any anti-corruption compliance program is the Code of Conduct as it is “often the foundation upon which an effective compliance program is built. As DOJ has repeatedly noted in its charging documents, the most effective codes are clear, concise, and accessible to all employees and to those conducting business on the company’s behalf.” Catherine Choe, has said that she believes “Two of the primary goals of any Code are first, to document and clarify minimum expectations of acceptable behavior at a company, and second, to encourage employees to speak up when they have questions or witness misconduct.”
But more than the Code of Conduct, does your company really communicate that it stands for compliance? Obviously formal compliance is important but more is required to reinforce that your company has a culture of compliance throughout the organization. In other words, are you communicating what you stand for and not simply the rules and regulations of a compliance program?
Celebrate Their Efforts
The 2012 FCPA Guidance speaks to the need to incentivize employees in the company realm. The Guidance states, “DOJ and SEC recognize that positive incentives can also drive compliant behavior. These incentives can take many Guiding Principles of Enforcement forms such as personnel evaluations and promotions, rewards for improving and developing a company’s compliance program, and rewards for ethics and compliance leadership. Some organizations, for example, have made adherence to compliance a significant metric for management’s bonuses so that compliance becomes an integral part of management’s everyday concern.” But more than simply incentives, it is important to “[M]ake integrity, ethics and compliance part of the promotion, compensation and evaluation processes as well.”
Mainwaring’s concept means going beyond incentivizing. To me his word ‘celebrate’ means a more public display of success. Financial rewards may be given in private, such as a portion of an employee’s discretionary bonus credited to doing business ethically and in compliance. While it is certainly true those employees who are promoted for doing business ethically and in compliance are very visible and are public displays of an effective compliance program. I think that a company can take this concept even further through a celebration to help create, foster and acknowledge the culture of compliance for its day-to-day operations. Bobby Butler, former CCO at Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., has spoken about how his company celebrated compliance through the event of a corporate Compliance Week celebration. He said that he and his team attended this event and used it as a springboard to internally publicize their compliance program. Their efforts included three separate prongs: they were hosting inter-company events to highlight the company’s compliance program; providing employees with a Brochure highlighting the company’s compliance philosophy and circulating a Booklet which provided information on the company’s compliance hotline and Compliance Department personnel.
Give Your Employees a Tool Kit For Compliance
A key component of any effective compliance program is an internal reporting mechanism. The 2012 FCPA Guidance states, “An effective compliance program should include a mechanism for an organization’s employees and others to report suspected or actual misconduct or violations of the company’s policies on a confidential basis and without fear of retaliation.” The Guidance goes on to also discuss the use of an ombudsman to address employee concerns about compliance and ethics. I do not think that many companies have fully explored the use of an ombudsman but it is certainly one way to help employees with their compliance concerns. Interestingly, in an interview in the Wall Street Journal with Sean McKessy, the initial and now former, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said, “companies are generally investing more in internal compliance as a result of our whistleblower program so that if they have an employee who sees something, they’ll feel incentivized to report it internally and not necessarily come to us.”
One tool a compliance practitioner can utilize in the realm of social media is Periscope. It allows you to tell a compliance story in real time, throughout your organization and beyond. They are both live streaming apps that enable you to create a video and open the portal to anyone who wants to use it. Anybody in your Twitter community can click on that link and watch whatever you’re showing on your phone. The big piece is the mobile aspect. It’s as simple as a basic tweet and hitting the “stream” button.
However, there are a wide variety of social media tools available that you can incorporate into your compliance program. Apps like Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and others may seem like tools that are solely suited to personal use. However, their application is much broader. As with many ideas in the compliance space, a CCO or compliance practitioner is only limited by their imagination. For these apps, they can be most useful when you tell the story of compliance in your company.
Hootsuite did a campaign called “Follow the Sun” using Periscope. They asked their employees showcase what they called #HootsuiteLife. They gave access to different people in every company office around the globe. Throughout the day, it would “Follow the Sun,” and people in different offices would log into the Hootsuite account and walk around and show off their culture, interviewing their friends, etc. They talk about the importance of culture and now they are proving it. The number of inbound applications drastically increased after people got that sneak peek into their company. Think how powerful such a presentation could be for your organization.
There is much to be learned by the CCO and compliance practitioner from the disciplines of marketing and social media. These concepts are useful to companies in getting their sales pitches out and can be of great help to you in collaborating and marketing throughout your company. These are only some of the tools which you can incorporate into your compliance program going forward but also a different way to think about who your customers are and how you are reaching them with your message of doing compliance.
Three Key Takeaways
- Let Your Employees Know What You Stand For.
- Celebrate not only successes but even employees’ efforts.
- Give employees a tool kit for compliance using social media.
Incorporate social media tools into your compliance messaging for greater distribution and cohesion.Click to tweet
This month’s podcast series is sponsored by Dun & Bradstreet. Dun & Bradstreet’s compliance solutions provide comprehensive due diligence reporting and analysis to reduce your risk of working with fraudulent companies by accessing a company’s beneficial ownership, reputation risk and more. For more information, go to dnb.com/compliance.