The Ethics & Compliance Portal and How it Relates to the DOJ’s Guidance on Corporate Compliance

Earlier this year, the DOJ published a set of guidelines to help prosecutors evaluate the effectiveness and quality of a compliance program in its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. Being able to demonstrate a high-quality program could mean the difference between an organizational fine or key leaders facing jail time. Even though most of us are not planning to face DOJ prosecutors in the near term, it never hurts to invest in a high quality ethics and compliance program.

We’ve compiled a handful of ways that Convercent’s Ethics and Compliance Portal can help amplify your existing program and address the three key areas of emphasis called out by the Department of Justice.

Continuous Program Improvement

One of the key takeaways from the publication was that the DOJ now expects you to not only have a demonstrably good program, but also to show that you are continuing to improve it because risks are ever changing. For many teams, just getting data on their current state and adapting to internal business changes can be a challenge, let alone regularly analyzing and building a process that goes beyond annual campaigns.

  • The key features of Convercent’s E&C Portal provide a pre-built framework for continuous improvement: Content, Campaigns, Engagement Analytics and Risk Identification. You can publish content, policies, trainings and guidance then promote interaction using awareness campaigns. The rich data that is collected from email click to policy completion and training scores allows you to identify what is working and which topics require additional training and reinforcement. Then, you can immediately update the portal to include additional explanation or context and send your next campaign to the group of targeted employees you need to reach.

A Well-designed Compliance Program

According to the DOJ, your program should provide “maximum effectiveness in preventing and detecting wrongdoing” through the communication of a clear message of compliance along with well-integrated policies and procedures.

  • With an Ethics and Compliance Portal, you can collect and analyze some of the richest compliance engagement data available to pick up on the earliest signals of trouble. Are more people looking at guidance for entertaining government officials or harassment? Are they finding your answers helpful? You can identify and take action on any concerns immediately, even before you get a helpline report or disclosure. If needed, you can create additional content, such as blogs, situational examples, or links to related resources to help employees the next time they encounter a similar situation. Sending a campaign directly to an at risk group to reinforce the old or new content is also a feature.
  • The E&C Portal enables you to demonstrate usage, not just attestation. What if you could show that over 70% of your employees read your code of conduct (not just signed it) and spent, on average, more than 5 minutes looking at the content? Not only is this a powerful point for defensibility, it’s also a great way to demonstrate the power of your program to other stakeholders and Board of Directors.

Effective Program Implementation

Focusing on tone-at-the-top is no longer sufficient. The DOJ is explicit in their guidance to ensure “senior and middle management’s commitment to compliance.”

  • Though it may take some initial effort, there is no better way to get leadership’s commitment than to actively engage them in the process. Invite department leaders to help create and present video content, and they will be more likely to internalize the messages and reinforce them with their staff. One of our early customers even created a contest between their leaders to see who got the most video views during the launch of their portal, and as you might expect, they generated a ton of engagement.

The DOJ will also be looking for independence and a real ability to influence the organization by measuring “the compliance function’s autonomy and resources.”

  • While you may not be able to change your reporting structure, you can make the most of your resources by focusing on a centralized portal that will serve as a very tangible and visual manifestation of your E&C program. You won’t need IT or technical resources to support or manage the portal, and updating content is easy so you’re able to communicate with your workforce whenever you choose.

Change isn’t easy, especially when you are dealing with board approvals, executive buy-in, and limited resources. But sometimes, you just need to take the first step in the right direction.

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