Compliance and Ethics in Review: February 15, 2019

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

Independent monitors in compliance, Facebook’s new approach to CSR, the evolution of the Chief Data Officer role, 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.

The Marriage of Independent Monitors and C&E Programs

This year, Affiliated Monitors, Inc. (AMI) celebrates its 15th anniversary. To honor the company’s work in the compliance industry, Tom Fox has teamed up with AMI’s CEO, Vincent DiCianni, to explore the rise of independent monitors in the US at multiple levels, including federally, state-wide, locally, and even internationally. Throughout five podcast episodes, Tom and Vincent will give listeners expert insights into how the government has embraced the use of independent monitors in corporate compliance and ethics programs.

At the time of writing, Tom Fox has released four of the five podcast episodes. Be sure to catch them all at

If you’d like even more insights from AMI’s knowledge repository, check out this roundtable recap on the Convercent blog: Networking For Ethics & Compliance Professionals: Addressing Common Concerns. In 2018, Vincent joined us for a fascinating conversation about the top concerns facing C&E leaders today. Learn how to engage employees, “get the Board on board,” and more.

SNC-Lavalin Faces Squeeze to Speed Asset Sales as Crisis Deepens

The crisis at Canadian engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin continues to deepen. Political controversy is rife, drawing in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alongside corruption allegations in Libya that date back almost two whole decades. Most recently, Canada’s ethics watchdog expressed a desire to investigate whether Trudeau pressured his former attorney general to help the company settle the corruption charges out of Canadian court (a Canadian parliamentary committee has since declined to investigate.)

Adding to the turmoil, the company has also reduced its profit outlook by more than 40%, seen shares plunge by a third, and had its credit rating cut dramatically. Reassuring investors will be the main goal before next week’s earnings report is released.

Facebook will start measuring “social” good in its employee performance reviews

Desperate to shake off an unsavory public image, Facebook is trying to pivot away from its growth-at-all-costs approach. On February 6, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that employee performance will now be measured against the company’s four new goals, which include:

  • “Continue making progress on the major social issues facing the internet and our company,” and,
  • “Communicate more transparently about what we’re doing and the role our services play in the world.”

This means that bonuses may now be linked to an employee’s efforts to advance social causes, but exact details on how the new policies will play out are unclear. Quartz at Work described it best, closing their commentary on the matter by stating, “As we wait to see what effect Facebook’s new priorities will have on a culture that allowed the company’s major challenges now to fester in the first place, the slightly perverse message to employees now is this: Pivot toward honesty and good citizenship like your bonus depends on it.”

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

The Chief Data Officer (CDO) is the newest kid on the block in the C-Suite, but many companies struggle to define the role, which makes it difficult to maximize the value of data. In many ways, we can look to the rise of the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) in the 2000’s for a better understanding of the challenges organizations are facing today. As the National Law Review explains, “While organizations were accustomed to having legal, HR, and internal audit departments working together to ensure compliance, suddenly CCOs stepped in to pull certain functions from those departments into the folds of the newly-minted Compliance department.”

The integration of CDOs appears to be following a similar route; the underlying corporate evolution is certainly difficult to navigate. However, in a data-driven world, the CDO is an important role that organizations would be wise to leverage appropriately.

Why Three Quarters of Board Directorships Still Go to Men

The Board has considerable influence over business decisions, and they have the power to make critical decisions that impact a company’s ultimate successes and failures. That’s why the lack of diversity on many boards is so concerning. According to a recently released report on Global Board Diversity, nearly three-quarters of all new appointments are given to men. While Western Europe experienced accelerated growth for some time, that growth appears to be leveling off. The growth of women on boards elsewhere in the world is also slow.

A lack of female representation means key perspectives are missing from the conversation, and the report cautions that gender parity on boards may never be reached at the current pace. Egon Zender, the firm responsible for the study, implores businesses to apply the “magic of three” rule. Appointing a single woman to the board isn’t enough, but three women can help change the way the board is run while allowing them to share their important insights.

Great Women in Compliance: The Only Woman in the Room with Stephanie Davis

This episode of the Great Women in Compliance podcast offers an uplifting message (especially for anyone who just read Why Three Quarters of Board Directorships Still Go to Men. Stephanie Davis, the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer for the Volkswagen Group of North America, joins the podcast in this week’s episode.

She speaks candidly about what it’s like to work as a woman in compliance in an international company. Oftentimes, she’s the only woman (and American) in the room. Listeners will also appreciate Stephanie’s insights into staying true to yourself, prioritizing what’s important in both life and career, why being “different” in compliance can be so effective, and so much more.

Is the traditional Code of Conduct dead?

Convercent’s own Arran Mulvaney recently published an interesting article about Codes of Conduct (CoC). As he explains, Ethics & Compliance departments in large organizations around the world have realized that their traditional communications approaches are outdated. Old-fashioned CoC’s may outline expectations and outline behavioral expectations, but they also tend to be lengthy and unengaging. Simply put, they don’t effectively communicate the most important messages today’s employees need to know.

That’s why an Interactive Code of Conduct is such a useful tool. It provides a rich multimedia experience that draws employees in, increasing engagement and making it easier for them to do the right thing in the face of an ethical dilemma.

Do you think an interactive code would be a valuable tool for your company? After you read Arran’s insights, don’t hesitate to jump into the conversation and share your own thoughts in the comments!

Pixar’s new short “Purl” takes on toxic workplace bro culture

This short from Pixar takes on an issue that many women in the workplace can relate to — “toxic bro culture.”

If you’ve struggled to get employees to engage with compliance-related messages, especially as they relate to sexual harassment training, consider sharing this engaging (and ultimately uplifting) animated video with your team.