We have been getting accountability all wrong in the compliance industry. It’s not a set of tasks – it’s a way of thinking and it has to come from the heart as well as the head. On Accountability: The Heart of Compliance Tom Fox and Sam Silverstein dig into what accountability means to the corporate compliance function and business organizations and most significantly, how to make it an integral part of your culture. Accountability: The Heart of Compliance is a production of the Compliance Podcast Network. Listen in on the first two episodes of this great new podcast.
Episode 1-The Far-Reaching Benefits of Accountability
A Little Foundation. What is accountability? Sam explains it is the foundation for being the best we can be. He says we all got it all wrong: we tend to think accountability is a way of doing things, but it is actually a way of thinking things. Sam shares how he has discovered some amazing things through prioritizing accountability – especially commitment; keeping commitments to people, commitments to the truth, commitments to values. And as a leader, when you show commitment, employees want to show commitment back to you.
Integrity Is an All-Around Thing. Sam notes that we often tend to think there’s a big difference between our personal lives and our professional lives but in reality, if we choose to live a life of integrity, that means all areas of our lives have to agree, have to align, whether at home, on the beach or in the business.
What Does it Mean for Business? There are a lot of organizations that operate with a lot of money but little integrity. Sam believes if you run a business with integrity, you will end up with much more money over the long haul, even if it takes more time. Treat your team members with integrity, and they will put in the work and in turn, they will treat your customers the right way. In small businesses, it can be easy for a leader to succumb to pressure, but it’s important to remember to keep making decisions based on what’s right and not based on money only.
What Are the Benefits of Accountability? Sam talks about the responsibilities of an employee: getting the job done and done right, on a timely basis. When a leader is committed to making every decision based on values, employees are inspired to want to make those same commitments in return, be more engaged and take a ‘rather-die-than-let-you-down’ attitude because they know that their leader has the same attitude towards them. Ultimately, he says the quality of work reflects the relationship between the leader and the employee.
Stepping on the Accountability Scale. As talked about on last week’s show, accountability is about showing commitment to people and to values. Sam finds it ironic that, on the KPMG website, the CEO states their core values but over the last few years, KPMG has been found guilty of many, many fraudulent conducts, which pretty much brings their so-called core values down to a lie. He questions the fact that people would still want to do business with liars even after the facts have been publicly exposed. Sam says the lack of accountability is not only to be blamed on KPMG; it is also on our society for allowing such an organization to continue.
Is Change Possible? According to Sam, if KPMG wants to make a change, first of all, the senior leadership has to believe in the supposed core values of the organization. If the senior leadership goes around the values, then everyone else in the organization will feel it is acceptable to go around the values, as well. As soon as you are making a decision that doesn’t connect to the values, you are sending out the message that value doesn’t count. Another – albeit more drastic – way to make a change is to not allow anyone who doesn’t share the values to stay in the organization at all, thus ensuring that everyone in the organization understands that values matter and so, there are no ethical problems encountered. It has to be a full-on commitment from the top down.
Building Trust Again. Sam says in order for customers to regain trust in KPMG, the CEO has to first ‘clean the house from the top down’ and prove over time that they are changing things and that in the future, they make sure to hire people that are from the get-go aligned with the core values of the organization.