Compliance Tech Talk: Chicago

Recap notes

American author and poet H.D. Thoreau once said, “Simplify, simplify.” To which essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson replied, “One ‘simplify’ would have sufficed.” Thoreau’s view on brevity and simplification was relevant to our 10th Tech Talk held last week in Chicago. Fifteen attendees gathered at Swift & Sons, a former Cold Storage Facility in the heart of the Windy City’s meatpacking center to share ideas, insights and experiences on how to bring better reporting and management techniques into modern compliance programs.

The Tech Talk team covered this event live.
See the coverage.

WATCH: CEO Patrick Quinlan on why industry professionals take part in the Tech Talk Tour

Policy simplification comes back to being a business decision
Getting the right message out at the right time to the right people is a common phrase heard in marketing and advertising; however, in Chicago, this was a shared ideology and frustration.

Compliance officers today are seeing the need to consolidate their policies, which when done successfully, can drastically increase program effectiveness – not to mention sanity. But yet, simplifying hundreds of policies is complicated because a lack of buy-in or support from other executives and regulators that believe having it included does no harm.  The struggle with showing the value of these processes to a Chief Compliance Officer or General Counsel is felt across industries.

One company shared they have over 650 policies that are redundant or outdated and are doing more harm than good for the program. Too many policies confuse employees, contribute to compliance fatigue and weaken trust in a relevant and modern compliance department. Couple this with the regulatory scrutiny that dings a compliance professional for overcommitting to an overhaul, it ruins the go-getter attitude that is needed to make an impact or change.

Don’t let possible litigation pushback hold you from using data to assess your program.
If you are not making assessments from data from the various parts of your company, many would say it’s crazy not to, according to a Chicago Tech Talk attendee. Figuring out that why attendees argued, is a foundational aspect of building a strong and effective compliance program. Those with experience in the legal side of a company echoed these statements. And with the regulatory expectation of using metrics to determine your next compliance move or to prove your effectiveness or identify gaps — you don’t have the time to let the possibility of a litigation kickback stop you.

It’s events like these that make me inspired to go back and make some immediate changes.” – Chicago attendee

Review: Yates Memo
We spent some time reviewing the Department of Justice’s 2015 memo issued by Sally Yates, and while this ruling didn’t issue or create any new rules, it emphasized personal liability of an organization. This issue alongside the hiring of Hui Chen as the agency’s dedicated compliance resource earlier this year reiterates how crucial it is for compliance and ethics professionals to do all they can to run an effective compliance program.

The personal liability has made compliance personal and helps to build a robust program that is not only responsible for tracking and implementing new regulations and best practices, but build-in the human piece from the get-go of development.

To get compliance to be taken more seriously throughout the company, one attendee discussed they shared the Yates Memo with their executive team and board. By doing so, they were able to leverage the DOJ’s ruling as validation that compliance and ethics are important for the growth and stability of a business.

Here is the original Yates Memo.

So while Thoreau and Emerson argued the semantics of being succinct in literature, it’s not far from what we as an industry are trying to do with our compliance programs. This is not something that happens overnight, but as we continue these conversations around the tactical and strategical approaches to simplifying compliance programs to be more effective, it will keep it top-of-mind for those who are listening. And with any luck, regulators across industries are keeping their ears to the ground.