CONVERGE19 is in its 4th year of bringing together the world’s leading companies for 2 days of dynamic speakers, thought-provoking breakout sessions, and opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals. You will leave the conference with new resources and best practices allowing you to continue the hard work of driving ethics to the center of your business. In today’s episode I visit with Michael Williamson, Chief Compliance Officer at Pacific Dental, on his talk at Converge19, moving an Ethics & Compliance from rules-based to leverage values.

You can move your Ethics & Compliance Program beyond a rules-based, blind obedience construct by leveraging values. In this session, Michael Williamson will describe how to animate your organization’s values and create alignment behind them to foster a self-governing culture of ethics and compliance. He will make the case for inspiring employees through purpose and values to act as individual leaders based on shared beliefs rather than coercing employees through rules or motivating them through performance-based rewards and expectations. You will learn how to bring your organization’s purpose and values to life in support of an ethics and compliance culture that, minimally, will pivot your Program to a posture of proactive risk mitigation. Finally, Williamson will tie it all together to demonstrate how this helps create strategic differentiation between you and your competitors.

For more information on Converge19, click here.

When you’re dealing with drama and you want to know what to do and what to say, Eden Gillott is the person to go to. She has been the President of Gillott Communications, a crisis PR firm, for over 11 years. She chats with Tom Fox about what a company should say in a crisis situation, how to prepare for a crisis in advance, and common mistakes to avoid.

What to Say During a Crisis

Eden defines a crisis as anything that threatens your reputation in a way that will interrupt your business. Whenever there is a crisis incident, especially one that involves loss of life, your company should express sorrow and empathy, and should never make light of the fact that people have lost their lives. You should also think about your key message and goals: ideally, your strategy should include your short-term reaction, but also consider the long-term impact of your actions.

How To Prepare For a Crisis 

While you can never predict a crisis, there are ways to prepare in advance. Think of the things most likely to happen in your industry. Crisis in the food industry, for example, can include recall and contamination. If something were to happen, how would you respond? A good strategy is to have a placeholder statement you can use as an immediate response that tells everyone you’re taking care of the situation, you’re looking into it and will get back to them as soon as possible. This placeholder statement buys you time while you gather the facts. The last thing you want to do during a crisis is rush out with misinformation, Eden warns. It can make an already bad situation even worse.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

During a crisis, you should avoid these common mistakes:

  • Lack of communication – Be as transparent as possible. Make sure everyone has the facts needed to make an educated decision.
  • “ It’s not my job.” –  When there’s a crisis, it’s everyone’s job.
  • “ It’s too small to be noticed.” – A crisis can become worse if you ignore it.

It’s a good idea to have a protocol in place so if a crisis occurs you have a framework to follow.

Advice About Social Media

Tom comments that social media has amplified messages, which can be catastrophic in a crisis. Eden advises how companies can use social media during a crisis. Social media posts can also precipitate a crisis. She admonishes, think before you post!

Lying is an Absolute No-No!

Eden says that there are two absolute no-no’s in crisis PR, and lying is one of them. Lying will always come back to bite you: your credibility will spiral down and the reputation you spent years building will be tarnished. If you’re caught as a liar, people will never believe anything you say in the future.


Gillott Communications

This week, I am exploring some of the compliance service offerings I make available to the compliance community through my consulting company, Advanced Compliance Solutions. Today, I explore the Compliance Retreat.

Using my corporate counsel days as a guide, I wondered how I could help corporate compliance departments better succeed in compliance? Inspired by the powerful tool of the strategic retreat I was a part of when I was a Division Counsel, I formed theCompliance Retreatfor corporate compliance departments, Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) and compliance practitioners. Why a strategic retreat? It is unlikely you can explore the wide range of issues that you might need to consider by simply performing a risk assessment and going forward. While a risk assessment is a key tool, it is only one tool. The Compliance Retreatwill allow you to work through a wide range of compliance issues specific to your company, your risk profile, your industry and your culture. Taking time to discuss compliance issues large and small in one day theCompliance Retreatwill allow you to think differently about your compliance program, all facilitated by one of the top Nuts and Boltscompliance practitioners around.

The role of facilitator is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, you should have a neutral party, one with no stake in the outcome. This means that you should not bring in your regular counsel or compliance advisors because they will have a vested interest in projects moving forward. Further, the facilitator needs to be well-versed in not only the anti-corruption compliance field but also someone who has seen a wide variety of best practicesin compliance in multiple business and industries. In the compliance field many practitioners want to know what other companies are doing and how they are facing unique challenges in many areas. Only an expert in the compliance arena can bring all of these skills to bear.

It starts with a Facilitator prepared to discuss your compliance program; the current structure, risk assessments, audits and outstanding issues at this time. A Facilitator could then help lead a discussion based on wide compliance discipline knowledge for steps to consider in building your program. From there, you can move towards building out and enhancing your own compliance program. It would end with actions steps which can be measured moving forward.

The Compliance Retreatis more than simply getting away for one day to discuss the specifics of your compliance program. Sarah Kessler, writing in an article, entitled “How to Plan a Company Retreat”, listed some of the key principles of a strategic retreat which I have adapted for the Compliance Retreat. They include:

  • Collaborate. Make certain that all participants have the ability to collaborate
  • Make discussion introvert-friendly. Ask the participants to write down answers to questions instead of blurting them out, and ask every person in the room to give their opinion in an organized manner
  • Encourage people to express themselves. It is important that all opinions are heard and make certain that minority opinions have a way to be heard
  • Combine team building with work. Compliance is always about teamwork so your compliance team should decide their next steps in the future, versus just experiencing a task together and deciding that the group can simply work well together
  • Stay on topic. It is important to stay focused on compliance issues
  • Diverge, converge. You should break up your group for more focused discussions then bring them back to the larger group for discussion
  • Document your next steps. Assign a champion for each step that the compliance team has agreed on, making those steps as specific as possible. You should document who does what, when they will accomplish the task and how, at the end of the day, you will measure it

Through my service offering of the Compliance Master Class Training I bring the most current best practices, by the guy who wrote the book on compliance program focusingon the nuts and bolts of compliance to a wide variety of compliance practitioners across the US. With the Compliance RetreatI will be able to offer the best practicesto any compliance department or similar corporate function who wants to have a facilitated, focused retreat on its compliance program. Imagine you could focus for one day on your compliance program and be able to pick the brain of the one of the tops Nuts and Boltscompliance practitioners around. Now you have the chance. What will it cost to have such a service? You will have to contact me for that information but it will be a fixed fee service so you know your cost going in with no surprises with an hourly rate or multiple lawyers and support personnel showing up on the billing memo.

I often receive emails and calls about the compliance service offerings which I can assist companies with through my consulting company Advanced Compliance Solutions. Based on this, I am dedicating this week to some of the offerings I have in place and with which I can assist the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), compliance professional and corporate compliance program. My latest offering is one based upon the recent eBook I authored with Jonathan Marks at Baker Tilley Virchow Krause, LLP, the Compliance Program Game Plan. I am offering this service jointly with Marks so you will be getting two of the top compliance practitioners around.

In this service offering, we provide a guide for CCOs and those responsible for developing and implementing compliance policies and procedures for an organization. It will facilitate your corporate compliance program having a best-in-class compliance program going forward. We break down our approach into four easily digestible components: (1) the first 90 days, (2) the first 90 days, (3) the first 180 days and (4) the first 18 months.

First 30 Days

In the first 30 days, we will help you (a) Review the compliance budget, (b) Meet with leaders from other corporate functions, (c) Review internal documentation and (d) Inventory compliance policies and procedures. The role of the compliance policies is to prevent, detect and remediate any compliance or related issue(s) which may arise with the organization, employees and third parties working on behalf of the company. A company’s compliance policies provide a basic set of guidelines for employees and others to follow. Compliance policies should provide general prescriptions and be supplemented by more specific procedures. By establishing what is and what is not acceptable, ethical and compliant behavior, a company helps mitigate the risks posed by employees who might not always make the right ethical choices. The key in this first phase is to obtain a full grasp on the basic state of your compliance program and meet with key stakeholders.

First 90 Days

In the first 90 days, we will assist you in continuing a review of key documents and then move out onto the road with you. We can assist with some or all of the following: (a) A worldwide listening tour to engage and educate throughout the organization, (b) Review past data and findings in all risk assessments, hotline reporting data, internal audits, culture surveys, internal investigations or other documents that discuss the state of your compliance program, (c) begin the process to refine or develop training and delivery, (d) improve communications from the compliance function to and through the organization and (e) meet with our outside compliance counsel, both those you utilize for investigations and those who focus more on the nuts and bolts work of compliance. We recommend you undertake a minimum two-week Listening Tour, to engage employees with the compliance function and to educate the workforce on the goals and objectives of the program. This listening tour should reach across the world of the company – both geographically and functionally. The goal of the listening tour is to both engage and educate employees.

First 180 Days

In this phase, we will assist you in beginning to actively move forward. We will assist you to (a) Perform a gap analysis of the internal compliance controls. (b) bring in an outside independent to administer a cultural survey, (c) work with your Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and their team to review and analyze key financial processes to understand how compliance fits into that framework and (d) hold a Compliance Retreat. A gap analysis is mainly a document review or a “show me the proof” type activity, evidence which usually will come in the form of a record or document. During a gap analysis, there is some auditing accomplished, with key stakeholders providing the evidence they may have – or not – for each of the requirements set forth in the relevant internal controls standard. Conversely, by bringing two of the top outside compliance  consultants, your company will be able to obtain a broader picture of where its culture exists as, more usually than not, employees are more willing to open up to an independent outsider, rather than someone in their own organization.

First Year

In the first 365 days, we will assist you to engage in the following steps: (a) create a Compliance Center of Excellence (CCOE) and (b) provide training and coaching for your compliance team so that they can lead with the message of doing business ethically and in compliance. The development of a CCOE would allow compliance to be more integrated into overall strategic planning and allow for strategy discussions to stay tuned to the ever-changing risk profile of a company. Moreover, through an interdisciplinary approach, it would bring compliance knowhow to help the employees and executives understand that compliance is, in reality, a business process that can easily be incorporated into business unit operating procedures going forward. Finally, we are then available for retention as outside consultants who can work with the CCO and each team member to set up a personalized training and coaching program to help fine tune their individual compliance expertise. While it would have a leadership training component, this program is not designed to focus on leadership development but on compliance development.

The great thing about the Game Plan is that is can slot in wherever you might be in your own compliance program journey. If you would like more information, give myself or Jonathan Marks a shout.