Compliance and Ethics in Review: November 14, 2018

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

The ethics of artificial intelligence, KPMG’s new approach to conflicts of interest, the DOJ’s updated stance on corporate monitors, and more.

Join the Convercent team for a weekly review of the top stories and most newsworthy events in the ethics and compliance industry. The focus is global, but you might be surprised by how relevant these stories are, both across borders and businesses.

Google has responded to its employees’ demands about sexual misconduct. Here are the changes it will and won’t make.

We’ve been watching Google closely these past few weeks. Employees have walked out, voiced their demands, and earned media exposure around the world. Now, the tech giant has announced which of those demands it will meet.

Forced arbitration in sexual misconduct cases will no longer be mandatory. It’s a big win, and not just for Google employees — other large companies could eventually follow suit. A clear, uniform, and globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct is also in the works.

Not all of the demands were met, however. Google will not promote the chief diversity officer to report directly to the CEO, and leadership has not agreed to appoint an employee representative to the board.

Samsung president says ‘we should really worry about ethics’ as artificial intelligence moves into your DNA

Samsung’s president, Young Sohn, has a warning for consumers and tech companies alike: Artificial intelligence is gaining traction in our lives, and compliance professionals need to answer tough questions about ethical considerations that arise from this new and powerful technology.

Sohn shared his worries with Business Insider, explaining,


“ … I think we should really worry about ethics. What is right? What is wrong? That’s why I made a comment, we’ve got to be principle-driven. And the research? Great. But research for purpose, not for using that data to take advantage of all human beings out there.”

These are the exact types of questions we need to be asking ourselves, because AI will surely impact how we deliver our duty of care. As you ponder these questions and learn more about AI, add this video to your watch list: Artificial Intelligence and its Role in Society: Incorporating Ethics into the Positive Use of Artificial Intelligence.

KPMG acts to avert ‘conflicts of interest’ of consulting

Amid a series of high-profile scandals, KPMG has made a public pledge to end consulting services to its large audit clients. As the Financial Times reports, “Investors have long questioned whether the Big Four is more likely to provide a favourable assessment of a company’s finances to protect lucrative consulting fees.”

Bill Michael, a KPMG chairman, recently sent a memo to the firm’s partners explaining the decision. All non-essential services will be phased out for large audit clients in order to, “remove even the perception of a possible conflict [of interest]”.

Restructuring, M&A and IT advice are among the included services. However, the new guidelines will only apply to the organization’s U.K. branch.

Justice Department Recalibrates Corporate Monitors and DOJ Compliance Position

The U.S. Justice Department has a new policy regarding the imposition of corporate compliance monitors. As Michael Volkov explains in this blog article, the new policy marks the implementation of a stricter standard. Before a corporate monitor is imposed, the potential benefits will be weighed. Additionally, the efficacy and deficiencies of a corporation’s compliance program will be thoroughly assessed.

As a result, the quantity of corporate monitors imposed in corporate settlements will likely dwindle, though certain cases will still require a monitor. As Michael explains, “… The new policy creates real and significant incentives for companies to design and implement robust ethics and compliance program controls as a means to prevent and detect misconduct, and eliminate any potential for recurrence after misconduct occurs.”

To learn more about how your organization’s compliance program can lead to more favorable outcomes in the event of an enforcement action, don’t miss this webinar: Proactive Compliance to Avoid an Enforcement Action.

A Global View of Ethics, Compliance and Corporate Culture

If your organization has a global footprint, this podcast series from Tom Fox (FCPA Compliance Report) is a must-listen.

During the week of November 12, Vincent DiCianni (founder and President of Affiliated Monitors, Inc.), and Eric Feldman (Senior Vice President, AMI) will join Tom for a global look at ethics, compliance, and corporate culture in non-U.S. companies. It promises to be an insightful and educational series — listen to the episodes here.