CONVERGE19 – The Ethics Impact

Convercent CECO's take on CONVERGE19

Converge19 just wrapped up and I’ve left the conference feeling invigorated, inspired and made some new friends in the process. Like no other ethics & compliance conference, over 350 number of E&C practitioners, influencers, and industry analysts convened over two days to discuss the impact ethics has on our respective organizations, society and the individual. Here are a few highlights that will stick with me:

Ethics and the Community

Jose Raul, CEO of Cementos Progresso, shared on mainstage how his company infuses ethics into their business at every level in the organization. When they were building a new factory, they gathered the local villagers to ask for their input. Cementos Progresso didn’t just create a new factory location, they created a community, by providing schools, medical care, job training and living wages. Bucking local customs, they provided women with equal job opportunities. Using ethics as a framework, they make business decisions on what is right for the company, their teammates and the local community. Cementos Progresso is a shining example of the power of a purpose-built organization.

You could have heard a pin drop in the ballroom when Andrew Wallis, CEO of Unseen, took the Converge19 attendees through a powerful exercise in understanding how modern slavery impacts us all. Did you know that 40-60 slaves contribute to your lifestyle if you eat food, own a mobile phone and wear clothes?

Training and Engagement

While most of us struggle with creating and delivering ethics & compliance training that is relevant, impactful and interesting, Rebecca Rehm (Olympus) and Matt Doherty (Mercer) shared practical ways to do just that without breaking the bank. They both showcased online training that they created themselves and how they infused practical business knowledge and humor to make it engaging.

A Lego fan even as an adult, I was thrilled to hear how Nichole Pitts increases employee engagement through the use of Legos. She walked conference-goers through exercises using Legos that helped them learn new ways to communicate and articulate complex compliance concepts in very practical ways. And hey, we got to play with Legos the whole time!

Improvement and ROI

While practitioners know that self-assessment is a critical part of any continuous improvement cycle for ethics & compliance, sometimes it can seem daunting to identify what framework or methodology to use. Cheryl Forino Wahl (MetroHealth) highlighted how to leverage existing industry guidelines, like the DOJ’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Program and World’s Most Ethical Company award to name a few, to measure program effectiveness.

We all have examples within our organizations of how our ethics & compliance efforts mitigated risk or avoided fines and penalties. But in Tom Fox’s keynote, he highlighted companies that have been able to demonstrate how ethics impacts profit in a very tangible way.  We all walked away with clear examples of how we can go back to our own organizations and do the same.

At a time when I was experiencing significant organizational change during a merger, a wise friend shared with me, “The willow that bends in the breeze is the willow that survives.” That phrase came to mind when Karin Johnson and Barbara Petitti shared practical tips on how compliance professionals can find resiliency amid the chaos of M&A, reorganizations, and enforcement actions.

David Childers from the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) shared their measurement framework of maturity and effectiveness of a High-Quality Ethics & Compliance Program. Converge19 attendees had the opportunity to take the assessment and see how their organization stacked up against their peers.

Impact Award

I was honored to present Hui Chen as the inaugural recipient of the Impact Award. Convercent established the Impact Award this year in an effort to recognize the impact an individual has had on the ethics & compliance profession and industry as a whole. As part of the award, she received a $5,000 grant to be applied to an initiative to further the ethics & compliance profession. Hui chose ComplianceNet, an interdisciplinary network to research compliance. We look forward to seeing great things come from this opportunity!

Converge19, the fourth year of the Converge conference series, was one for the record books. With 11 mainstage keynotes, 36 breakout sessions, and 1 rock concert, it was a week of camaraderie, insight, and inspiration and I can’t wait to see everyone next year at Converge20.

-Katie Smith
CECO, Convercent