This week I am celebrating the intersection of Shakespeare and compliance with a week-long podcast series on the Bard & Compliance. How does Shakespeare portend social media in the 21stcentury? I would submit that one only need look at Much Ado About Nothing to see how it should all play out. As with all Shakespeare’s plays there is quite a bit going on but the play centers around the action and dialogue of Benedick and Beatrice who go after each other in a manner which shames modern NBA trash-talkers. Apparently, everyone else in the play understands the two are meant for each other so they engage in a very social media style of communication to put the two together. Of course, as this is a comedy, everyone ends up married so Beatrice and Benedick, prompted by their friends’ interference, finally, and publicly, confess their love for each other.

One of the first companies to embrace social media as a key tool in their compliance strategy was Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) who actively uses social media to make more effective the company’s compliance regime. The D&B experience provides three key insights for the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and compliance practitioner. The first is how compliance, like society, is evolving, in many ways ever faster. As more millennials move into the workforce, the more your employee base will have used social media all their lives. Once upon a time, email was a revelatory innovation. Now if you are not communicating, you are falling behind the 8-ball. Employees expect their employers to act like and treat them as if this is the present day, not 1994 or even 2004.

The second is that these tools can go a long way towards enhancing your compliance program going forward. Recall the declination to prosecute that Morgan Stanley received from the Department of Justice (DOJ), back in 2012, when one of its Managing Directors had engaged in FCPA violations? One of the reasons cited by the DOJ was 35 email compliance reminders sent over 7 years, which served to bolster the annual FCPA training the recalcitrant Managing Director received. You can use your archived social media communications as evidence that you have continually communicated your company’s expectations around compliance. It is equally important that these expectations are documented (Read – Document, Document, and Document).

Finally, never forget the social part of social media. Social media is a two-way communication. Not only are you setting out expectations but also these tools allow you to receive back communications from your employees. The D&B experience around the name change for its Code of Conduct is but one example. You can also see that if you have several concerns expressed it could alert you earlier to begin some detection and move towards prevention in your compliance program.

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