Networking With Ethics & Compliance Professionals: Common Industry Themes

In June 2018, Convercent gathered ethics and compliance leaders to discuss their most pressing questions and concerns

Seeking Opportunities When Leadership Changes, Navigating Global Compliance Issues, Employee Engagement, and More

Throughout the year, Convercent gathers ethics and compliance executives for roundtable events to discuss the industry’s biggest challenges and insights. In a community where networking with leaders and peers can be difficult, these conversations help us focus on driving ethics to the center of business. In June 2018, we held two roundtable events: one in Boston and another in Philadelphia.

My colleague Molly Tagg has already shared some of the most interesting insights from our Boston conversation, and today we’re taking the conversation back to the City of Brotherly Love.

In Philadelphia, we were lucky to have Ruben Christie join the panel. Ruben is the Global Ombuds Leader at SUEZ, an organization that helps a wide variety of industries solve their toughest water, wastewater, and process challenges. Mr. Christie is no stranger to the topics that dominated our conversation — he’s even navigated the tricky situations that come with a divestiture. From his perspective, the best part of the roundtable was being able to talk shop with a mix of industry professionals.

Mr. Christie enjoyed, “Getting the different perspectives as to what everyone does in their own environments, specifically around how they approach compliance,” and I think you’ll be similarly intrigued. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the insights and questions that were discussed.

Where are ethics and compliance professionals focusing their attention?

These roundtables are attended by a diverse mix of people — some are Convercent clients, others are compliance professionals representing a range of industries. Regardless of their backgrounds, everyone in Philly had a main goal: learning how to better weave ethics into the foundations of their businesses.

To start, we went around the room and asked attendees to talk about what they’re currently focusing on within ethics and compliance. If you’ve read the Boston roundtable recap (or any other Convercent blogs, for that matter) you’ll likely notice some common themes:

How can we leverage transitions in leadership?

Whenever there’s a change in leadership, both challenges and opportunities abound.

On the compliance side, these transitions can be a great opportunity to make some positive changes, especially if the incoming leadership is forward-thinking. During the roundtable, we specifically talked about the desire for more powerful reporting capabilities.

How can we navigate global issues in an ethical manner?

When a company enters into a new market in another country, global issues inevitably arise. You have to consider cultural differences in business operations, unfamiliar rules and regulations, how to manage staff around the world, and much, much more.

One of the most relevant recent examples of this issue is the enactment of the GDPR — companies who operate in Europe have to follow the rules, but doing so isn’t always straightforward.

How does enterprise risk management impact the business?

Connecting enterprise risk management (ERM) plans with quantifiable business objectives is a common struggle for many compliance teams. For some of our attendees, this information is reported directly to the Board, and the entire concept is a big focus within their organizations. Everyday, these teams ask themselves:

  • What’s coming up that we need to prepare for?
  • What risks exist right now; where should we be focusing?
  • How can we best address these risks with the leadership team?

What are some of the best ways to increase employee engagement?

This question feels as old as time, and it’s something compliance professionals across industries and borders deal with every single day. Many attendees in Philly were interested to hear more about a program Mr. Christie has seen success with at SUEZ: an ombuds program.

The main challenge attendees anticipated centered around the question, “How do I get the internal resources needed to make this work? How can we justify implementing a full ombuds program?”

Mr. Christie suggested choosing an employee in the company that everyone can come to with ethical questions and concerns. With someone relatable acting as an ambassador, bringing issues to light becomes far less daunting.

Another initiative that SUEZ has implemented is a quarterly Compliance Hero nomination. The company picks a significant cause that raises a concern, or selects a topic that poses a significant reputational or business risk. The Compliance Board (the CEO and his staff) nominate an employee who has acted ethically for the Compliance Hero award, and the Hero receives a cash award and a public thank you.

In Mr. Christie’s experience, “It’s a really effective way to engage everyone. Folks who have participated think it’s great. They have the option to stay anonymous, but most of the time they welcome the recognition.”

What are the best application intake methods for engaging millennials?

“How do we engage employees?” is one big theme we discuss regularly, but how to engage millennials specifically is also something many companies want more insight into. The consensus here was that it’s important to offer a variety of intake methods.

Millennials, in particular, tend to prefer using their smartphone or computer to voice a concern or ask a question. That’s why the Convercent Helpline offers global 24×7 phone, web, proxy, and mobile texting intake options. As a result, employee engagement increases.

There are other ways to increase engagement amongst employees who prefer tech-based solutions, too. At SUEZ, every computer has a pre-installed icon on the desktop. It looks like a call-out button, with “Ethics” written on the inside of the image. All an employee has to do is click on the icon and answer a few quick and easy questions through the Convercent platform. Whenever someone has a question or wants to make a report, the icon is right there.

It’s a fairly new initiative, but engagement has been high thus far. Another example that one attendee shared was offering incentives for employees upon completion of training. Recently, this technique was used for their GDPR and privacy related trainings.

For even more engagement-increasing ideas, here are some must-read resources:

Have you noticed any themes in these discussions?

Every roundtable is different, but there are some common themes that we hear about time and time again during these chats:

  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Battling disparate data silos to get the information we need most
  • Getting buy-in from leadership
  • Measuring the efficacy of training

Because Convercent’s solutions help solve many of these issues, we always do a demonstration of the software so that attendees can see the tools in action. In Philly, Insights immediately grabbed everyone’s attention. As Mr. Christie put it, “It’s just very efficient, especially considering the alternatives within the industry.”

Future networking events for ethics and compliance professionals

At the end of the day, the most ethical companies are the most successful companies. Conversations about driving ethics to the center of business are important, especially in this hyper-connected age of consumer awareness.Will you join us for the next big conversation? It’s happening October 9-11, 2018 in Denver, during our annual Converge conference. The theme is putting ethics into action, and you can join industry visionaries, leaders, and experts to learn how to transform your organization and career by connecting ethics to business performance. Learn more here, and we hope to see you there!