A COVID-19 action plan for compliance teams

Compliance is more important than ever in mitigating the impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving and beginning to present significant risk to business, making it absolutely necessary to create a coronavirus action plan for compliance. With Apple’s revelation that they expect to miss revenue goals due to supply chain issues, we’ve already seen that it will have a massive financial impact. And supply chain disruption is just the beginning. Businesses will also feel the impact of harassment and bullying, as fears have given rise to race-based discrimination. And after last week’s dramatic downturn in global stock markets after record highs, it’s possible that the economic pressure could lead to greater uncertainty and eventually even layoffs.

Discrimination, job loss and potential retaliation all spell out greater risk, making it more necessary than ever for compliance teams to take a seat at the table and protect their organizations. Employers who don’t proactively address the growing unease and risk within their companies may find the issue quickly get out of control. On the other hand, employers who engage in ongoing communication—with messaging around emotional impact, bullying and discrimination, and flexible work arrangements—demonstrate their commitment to their team members.

Here at Convercent, we’re committed to serving the ethics and compliance community and helping you mitigate risk, contribute to business impact, and serve the employees at your organizations. Below, find our recommended coronavirus action plan for compliance teams. Ideally, these questions and actions will help you mitigate the impact of coronavirus on your companies and contribute to a culture of trust with your employees.

Ethics and Compliance action plan for COVID-19

Treat the following questions and information as conversation-starters with your team. These are essential conversations to have at the outbreak of a crisis or pandemic, so that you can create a plan and get ahead of any issues.

Do our employees know that we are committed to their wellbeing? Are our policies relevant, up-to-date, and thorough?

Protecting your employees’ health and safety is a primary goal of the E&C team. Update your existing policies on flexible and work-from-home arrangements, particularly in light of your business continuity plans and the potential for school closures. Review and update your travel policies with an eye on travel bans. Share these updates promptly.

It’s also essential to send a reminder on employee privacy, HIPAA, ADA, and other health and medical policies. Ensure that managers know what they can and cannot ask employees about their health and medical history.

Do our employees have a centralized place to find information, ask questions and share concerns during this time of uncertainty?

If you have an ethics and compliance portal, update it and use it as an easily accessible hub for new policies and your company’s action plan for addressing coronavirus. This is also a good place to post resources like the World Health Organization’s statement on travel, or a link to the CDC summary of coronavirus.

How do we ensure fear does not become detrimental to the way we work with each other? How do we protect our company culture during this crisis?

Many communities have reported an increase in racist behaviors and bullying, as fear fuels a rise in scrutiny directed at particular nationalities and ethnicities. Address this within your organization by communicating the heightened prevalence of discrimination and harassment, reminding employees of your company values, and educating teams on how to legally and effectively assess the risk of infection. Now is a good time for an awareness campaign, even in areas that aren’t yet facing widespread coronavirus cases.

How can the E&C department be a partner to the organization during a crisis like COVID-19?

Crisis situations present an opportunity for ethics and compliance team members to step outside of their traditional roles and be a partner to other teams. Our existing infrastructure and visibility into the entire organization may come in handy to operations and other departments, and tools like your helpline and disclosures can be activated to track essential and evolving information.

Helpline reports: Direct employees to your helpline to record their concerns or observations about coronavirus. Getting an eye on these reports will help you understand and navigate key risks across the organization. With robust data, you can analyze and predict issues related to the virus before they boil over.

Disclosures: Create a specific declaration option related to coronavirus, and have those disclosures routed to the relevant person or department for consideration. Maintain a central repository for coronavirus disclosures, so you and your operations team have a finger on the pulse of coronavirus issues.

Join the E&C community discussion on dealing with COVID-19

We hope to serve as a partner and resource as this situation evolves. We also hope to connect ethics and compliance professionals who are facing the same challenges, so we’ve started a discussion thread in the CONVERGE community where you can join the ongoing conversation on coronavirus, ethics, and compliance. See what your peers are doing to address their coronavirus risks, and how E&C is playing a role.

 

Watch our webinar, Coronavirus: Call to Action for our E&C Community

Join our upcoming webinar to hear industry experts discuss:

  • How COVID-19 is surfacing in communities and businesses
  • Why ethics and compliance leaders need to get involved now
  • How you can mitigate the business impact of COVID-19 using your existing E&C tools and processes

 

Watch the COVID-19 Webinar