Throughout a year when one difficulty was quickly followed by another (and another, and another), compliance leaders and programs stepped up for their companies. And it’s a good thing—living your values is never more important than during a crisis, and regulators have made clear that the global pandemic wasn’t a free pass for misconduct in 2020. The compliance program is not just the corporate norm-setter and rule-enforcer; we’re the role models for ethical behavior.
As we kick off a new year with new challenges and opportunities, we’re taking a moment to recognize those compliance programs who served as a beacon for ethical behavior, innovation, leadership, and humanity. Our annual Customer Awards and Recognition Program celebrates excellence in the fields of ethics, compliance, legal, and human resources.
Our awards celebrate innovative thinking, humanity, and ethics at the center of organizations across the globe. This year we added a new award category, Leadership, to highlight the individuals who have an extraordinary talent of working across their organization to continuously drive an inclusive, empowered, and ethical culture.
Ethics Award Winner: MetroHealth
While compliance and ethics are often tied together, you know they are two very different things. To be compliant means to follow the rules and regulations, whereas being ethical refers to doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do. As consumers are recognized as key stakeholders, doing the right thing becomes a competitive advantage.
In 2020, MetroHealth’s Communications Strategic Plan combined a variety of awareness and engagement initiatives to build a culture of ethics across the organization. From videos that asked employees “What does safety mean to you?” to a cross-departmental Compliance Committee and Transformation Book Club, the MetroHealth compliance team got every employee thinking about ethics in 2020. And their Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative is an inspiring example of confronting injustice head-on in order to foster healing and progress. The Convercent 2020 Ethics Award is presented to MetroHealth, for showing exceptional grit and determination to drive ethics to the center of their organization.
Ethics Award Honorees: Venator
Innovation Award Winner: Lonza
One of the few silver linings in 2020 is that it reminded us to think outside the box instead of doing things the way they have always been done. The Convercent Innovation Award is for our customers who stay on top of the data and insights of their program, always ask why, and find new, efficient, and effective ways to improve culture, increase employee engagement, and proactively build their ethics and compliance program with disruption in mind.
When the compliance team at Lonza dug into their Convercent Helpline analytics, they identified one region that needed a boost. The team researched what regional factors were at play, and designed a surprising awareness campaign to grab attention, subvert expectations, and ultimately change attitudes around the Helpline in that region. As a result, Helpline reports increased significantly within the region after just six weeks. For using data to identify an opportunity, come up with a solution, and track progress, we recognize Lonza with the 2020 Innovation Award.
Innovation Award Honorees: Bridgestone; Puma Energy; MetroHealth
Humanity Award Winner: Cementos Progreso
There is a big difference between feeling connected to an organization that cares about your professional and personal well-being, versus feeling like another cog in the revenue wheel. The Convercent Humanity award is granted to the Convercent Customer that has built humanity into their organization’s culture and compliance program by having a deep understanding of their employees and developing creative solutions to connect, engage, and empower employees to make ethical decisions on their own.
As COVID-19 spread around the globe, Cementos Progreso’s internal teams quickly spun up a set of protocols, including communication channels for employees to report their concerns. These protocols centered around protecting the health and addressing the needs of not just Cementos Progreso employees, but also their customers and members of the communities in which Cementos Progreso operates. A new Corporate Citizenship department managed and addressed new risks, established community health centers, and created opportunities to support agricultural businesses that have been threatened by the pandemic. For recognizing their responsibility to their employees, and going above and beyond to include community members in their support, we recognize Cementos Progreso with the 2020 Humanity Award.
Humanity Award Honorees: MetroHealth
Leadership Award Winner (tie): Sarah Richardson, W.L. Gore; Cheryl Forino Wahl, MetroHealth
This year, we sought your nominations for the first-ever Leadership Award, to highlight an individual with an extraordinary talent of working across the organization to continuously drive an inclusive, empowered, and ethical culture. These are the individuals that are helping change people’s perspective of the Ethics & Compliance field from a “department of no” to a trusted partner. They are the movers and shakers that are laying the foundation to help drive permanent behavior changes in organizations across the globe. And the flood of nominations for this award proved just how many “movers and shakers” there really are out there in the compliance world…so much so that we are recognizing two outstanding leaders this year.
Sarah Richardson, Enterprise Compliance Officer at W.L. Gore & Associates, was nominated by Kelli Dryer, Enterprise Compliance Champion. “As the Enterprise Compliance Leader of a global organization in a year where everything has been different, Sarah took all the pivoting in stride and didn’t miss a beat,” says Kelli. “Sarah was the catalyst to the development of an ad-hoc Board Committee for Fairness and Inclusion to have oversight and focused attention on the efforts across the organization. Although this particular topic doesn’t typically fit within the Compliance team, Sarah partnered with the global HR leader to drive this important work forward meaning some compliance projects were shifted or delayed all for the best interest of the organization as a whole and the Associate experience working at Gore. Overall, Sarah’s influence and leadership reaches far and wide and she is particularly talented at leading our global Compliance team. The global compliance team is unlike anything I’ve experienced at other companies with our camaraderie, all working toward the same goal. I know this is in part to Sarah’s leadership and her skill for equipping and empowering each of us to be a part of influential projects and initiatives throughout the organization. Her mentorship and leadership is a large part of why I love my job as much as I do.”
Cheryl Forino-Wahl, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at MetroHealth, was nominated by Senior Compliance Officer and Director of Compliance Operations, Sarah Partington. “Cheryl has brought new life to the organization’s ethics and compliance program,” Sarah says. “Her enthusiasm and boundless energy motivates the team and other leaders to rally around the mission of building an ethical culture. The program has evolved so significantly that in 2020, MetroHealth, this small regional, public health system, was recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies…Cheryl believes the Ethics and Compliance team must serve as consultants. We provide education and help solve problems. And while the penalties for noncompliance with regulatory requirements can be serious, Cheryl emphasizes the importance of aligning our program values with the values of each and every employee…Cheryl believes in the work that we do as an ethics and compliance team. She motivates us to dream big and not feel inhibited by the size or scope of our organization….She truly is doing everything possible to bring ethics to the center of the business and push the boundaries for the role of the ethics and compliance professional.”
Leadership Award Honorees: Ellen Hunt, AARP; Will Simmons, Lonza
A huge thanks are in order to all our nominees and winners. The hard work you do every day to drive ethics to the center of business does not go unnoticed, as evidenced by the quality of the nominations we received and the tough deliberations that our judging panel faced this year. We can’t wait to see the incredible compliance initiatives that are already underway in 2021!