MAKING AN EFFECTIVE IMPACT ON CORPORATE CULTURE – Part I
By André H. Paris, Brazil
Professor, Compliance Consultant and Lawyer. Partner – Oliveira Cardoso, Carvalho de Brito, Libardi Comarela, Zavarize & Antunes Coelho law firm,
One of the most challenging goals of a compliance program
is to “Get it out of the paper”, that is, to bring efficiency
to the policies, procedures, guidelines, its training, and
other controls structured within a company’s compliance program.
For a compliance program to be more than, rules to be followed, controls to be implemented, trainings to be done and monitoring to be conducted, compliance professional, business leaders and top management must be successful in foster a corporate culture that have ethical and transparency concerns in its core values.
BUT HOW CAN COMPLIANCE PROFESSIONALS AND BUSINESS LEADERS MAKE AN EFFECTIVE IMPACT IN A COMPANY’S CORPORATE CULTURE?
To drive culture to an ethical and transparent path, first, an organization must drive behaviors.
In this article , we will try to share some examples of how a company can influence its employee behaviors and, by extent, its corporate culture.
THE TONE SET BY MANAGEMENT
“Actions speak louder than words”
It is not difficult to find the “tone of (and most recently from) the top” which is a cornerstone of an effective compliance program at work on the governance or compliance fields.
However, the tone set will not be perceived as true or followed
if a company’s top management only
“talk the talk” but don’t walk the walk.
If an organization’s CEO gives a breathtaking speech about ethics and workplace respect to all his employees in the company’s annual meeting, but fails to respond properly to a harassment report (or he himself harasses his subordinates), no one would believe in the nice words that he said in his speech.
Recent studies precisely argue that not only the tone set from top management is important to drive employee behaviors, but also the ones set by the mid and lower levels of management.
Depending on the size or the territorial scope of the business it may be unlikely that an employee will have contact with top management members in a frequency higher than once or twice a year. If that is the case, the tone set, and the behaviors showed by the employee direct superior will most likely affect his perception of how the organization expects him to behave.
How would you feel if your company’s motto were “Integrity first, profits later” ?
Probably incredibly pleased to work in an organization with such ethical concerns, right?
However, what if this same company does not include any compliance goals in its bonus program?
Or if the goals chosen relates to revenue gain objectives?
Now perhaps you would not feel so trustworthy about the company’s intention.
That is exactly how the members of an organization may feel if a company words tell them something and its (financial) incentives show otherwise. To efficiently impact employee’s behavior a company must ensure that its rewards program also contemplates compliance, ethics, and transparency goals.
Although it might be challenging to select what actions could represent the fulfilment of ethical goals, some examples are the maintenance of a professional record without any misconduct registry or ethical decisions made and recognized as so by its peers or subordinates in day-to-day operations, etc.
Similarly, some companies are using “claw back” mechanisms to punish employees who engaged in unethical behaviors. In those cases, if a member of the organization is found to have performed a misconduct, the company would be entitled to take back any bonusses awarded to the one who carried out the misconduct.
SMILE – YOU ARE BEING WATCHED
One of the techniques that may influence human behavior and prevent undesirable conduct is by increasing the sensation that the wrongdoing might be uncovered.
What actions could a company take to intensify
its employees’ perception that any misconduct performed
may be detected and sanctioned by the organization?
First, the organization should foster a corporate environment where people feel encourage and safe to report any misconduct that came to their attention.
In addition they should use very known tool used by compliance professionals: A reporting channel that grants anonymity (what increase the number of reports) to the person communicating the inappropriate conduct and that is able to maintain the confidentiality (what prevents unwanted interferences in the investigations) of the data shared.
In terms of physical controls, a company could, for instance, invest in a video monitored work environment. Another way to expand employees’ concerns of having a misconduct identified is through making them acknowledge that their e-mail and other corporate communications may be monitored.
Auditing is also a highly effective way of fueling employees’ perception that
if they engage in any misconduct the company have strong chances of detecting it.
All the examples shared here can help a company prevent wrongdoings by incentivizing its employees to abstain engaging in misbehavior through enhancing the likelihood of being caught if they do so.
In the next article of our series we will share further examples on how companies may enhance its impact on corporate culture.
 TROKLUS, Debbie. Essential Elements of an Effective Ethics and Compliance Program. In “The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual”, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics; Minneapolis, 2019.
 PARIS, André H. Compliance – Ética e Transparência como Caminho. Rio de Janeiro; Lumen Juris, 2019.
- Making an Effective Impact on Corporate Culture – Part V - March 17, 2021
- MAKING AN EFFECTIVE IMPACT ON CORPORATE CULTURE – Part IV - December 17, 2020
- MAKING AN EFFECTIVE IMPACT ON CORPORATE CULTURE – Part III - October 13, 2020