Compliance and Ethics in Review: February 7, 2019

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

#MeToo’s lasting impact on corporate culture, challenges for the EU’s Copyright Directive, increased protections for pregnant women in the U.K., 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.

Can chatbots make workers more ethical?

When Kimberly-Clark studied employee feedback, the company realized there was an opportunity to transform how policies were organized and delivered. Leadership wanted to better support daily decision making, provide helpful information in real-time, and increase employee engagement with the code of conduct.

Convercent helped make Kimberly-Clark’s dream a reality. While many bots, apps, and platforms exist to help companies enhance their ethical cultures, Convercent’s tools combine policies, training, videos, interactive search, and AI-powered chatbots.

Kimberly-Clark first rolled out their Interactive Code last year, and since then:

  • More than 21,000 people have used it across more than 60 countries in 19 languages.
  • There was a 2.5x increase in Helpline questions.
  • Employees spent an average of 3.45 minutes on a page and initiated more than 3,000 chats with the chatbot, aptly named KayCee.

How the chief ethics officer of a Denver ethics software firm handles business’ biggest issues

We’re thrilled to share this feature from the Denver Business Journal, which profiles Katie Smith, Convercent’s chief ethics officer. When Katie first joined us in 2016, there was no ethics and compliance program in place. However, she had already built USAA into one of the world’s most ethical companies. It’s no surprise that Convercent’s innovative program was up and running in a few short years.

Now, Katie is regarded as one of the industry’s top experts. In this interview, Katie shares her thoughts on the biggest ethics-related challenges facing today’s businesses, what startup owners in Denver need to be careful about in their early stages if they want to maintain a strong culture and reputation, and more.

Fearing future #MeToo allegations, a growing number of companies are turning to reputation management firms

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more companies are hiring reputation management firms to help them better understand risks and potential legal liabilities. According to one such firm profiled in the above article from CNBC, calls quadrupled in 2018, with a noticeable uptick in sexual harassment issues.

These insights aren’t surprising, especially considering workplace sexual harassment claims jumped more than 12 percent in the fiscal year 2018, according to data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Now more than ever, companies are looking for best practices that will fundamentally change their corporate culture.

Terry Crews and Other Sexual Violence Survivors Narrate New ‘Me Too’ Videos

In other recent #MeToo news, four inspiring animated videos were premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The narrators, including actor Terry Crews, share their experiences as survivors of sexual violence.

While we often think of the Me Too movement as beginning in 2018, the original movement actually began more than 10 years ago. Me too Movement is an advocacy organization that fights sexual violence and harassment, and the group was responsible for bringing these stories into the world.

U.S. Seen as More Corrupt, Watchdog Research Finds

According to Transparency International, “The U.S. is experiencing threats to its systems of checks and balances, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”

It’s one explanation for the nation’s recent rankings drop on the annual Corruption Perceptions Index, an anti-corruption barometer used by global companies looking to invest in new markets around the world.

The U.S. now ranks 25th, and this is the first time the country came in outside of the top 20 since 2011.

The fight over Europe’s internet just got even messier

The European Union’s proposed Copyright Directive earned a lot of attention in 2018. Hashing out the details has proven complicated, and six countries just switched sides during negotiations. The issue lies in Articles 11 and 13, aka the “link tax” and “upload filter.”

Article 11 would allow publishers to charge a fee when platforms like Google or Facebook show previews of their articles. Article 13 shifts liability for user-uploaded content onto the platform, making them responsible for confirming appropriate use of copyrighted material. Now that negotiations have backpedaled so significantly, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Google Urged the U.S. to Limit Protection For Activist Workers

Last year, Google employees staged protests and walkouts that generated worldwide attention. While they were drawing attention to unethical workplace activities, the company was “quietly urging” the U.S. government to narrow legal protection for workers who organized online. In information obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, it was found that Google encouraged the National Labor Relations Board to undo a 2014 precedent that gave employees broader rights to use their workplace email system to organize around workplace issues.

Colin McMillen, a (soon to be former) Google employee explained, “It demonstrates that Google leadership is not operating in good faith. They can have a town hall and try to say soothing words and get people to not want to quit, but then if in the background they’re not just rejecting carrying out most of the demands of the walkout, but also trying to tamp down our ability to even coordinate and talk to each other about these issues, that’s extremely concerning.”

Plans to boost protections for pregnant women and new parents returning to work

U.K. lawmakers released new proposals that would protect pregnant women and new parents from unfairly losing their jobs after having children. Prime Minister Theresa May offered her thoughts on the potential changes, saying, “It’s unacceptable that too many parents still encounter difficulties when returning to work. Today’s proposals are set to provide greater protection for new parents in the workplace, and put their minds at ease at this important time.”

The new protections would be part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, which was published last year. As a whole, it’s the largest package of workplace reforms in the past 20 years.

Australia vows to clean up financial sector after landmark misconduct inquiry

Australia’s financial sector has received substantial backlash after a government-appointed inquiry harshly criticized the industry for misconduct. An 11-month investigation revealed fees being charged to accounts of dead customers, cash bribes to win mortgage business, and more.

While two dozen cases have been referred to regulators for potential legal consequences, the structure long enjoyed by the country’s banks remains largely unaltered. Instead, the Royal Commission has recommended certain changes that include a new oversight body and an overhaul of pay and salary to remove conflicts of interest.

However, as Reuters notes, “… the recommendations stopped short of measures that would threaten the A$400 billion ($289 billion) industry’s dominant position.”

Ethics & Compliance: 2018 in Review + What’s in Store For 2019

Did you catch Convercent’s end-of-year infographic and webinar? From what we can learn from 2018’s top enforcement actions to the most important compliance areas to focus on this year, the information is still relevant as 2019 unfolds.

As you’ll see, the main takeaway is be proactive. Once you’ve reviewed the infographic, don’t miss the webinar that inspired it. You’ll learn how to avoid an enforcement action, how to mitigate third-party risks and more.