CTT: D.C. and Atlanta were “on the money”

Key topics included culture, root cause analysis, board reporting and more!

Last week was one for the books. Too many compliance conversations are spent dancing around action. Cutting the fat and the elaborate dance moves results in what we saw in D.C. and Atlanta, along with every other of this year’s CTT events. It’s difficult to write these posts without sounding exaggeratory, but in all honesty, each one brings a world of extraordinary value to the compliance conversation.

We stopped in Washington D.C. and Atlanta (stops two and three on our World Tour) and spoke with over 35 compliance executives – and now when we say we spoke to executives we mean we’re talking to some of the best-of-the-best, crème of the crop level compliance leaders from various industries. We’d like to use this post to overview the conversations we had in hopes of extending them even further amongst our readership.

It’s an election year, and somehow we fit compliance into the chatter inside and outside of the Beltway.
Washington, D.C. – our topics were based around:

  • The evolving role of compliance
  • Reporting and benchmarking
  • Board expectations

Fast facts: 17 attendees + 17 different companies + 12 different industries = diverse conversation, which if you are math-minded, could result in over 3,500 different combinations of conversations. #mindblown

Peter Jaffe, CECO of AES Corporation kicked off the session as he shared with the group his experience around proactive initiatives, predictive analytics and data-driven decisions. Once he started, the dialogue followed and didn’t stop until the event concluded.

In our recent study with Ethisphere, we found that 97 percent of compliance executives uses hotline and misconduct reporting statistics to report to the Board and governing authorities. This coupled well with what we heard during this roundtable.

Hotline data is useful; agreed, but how far can you take it? How do you use this data to improve employee engagement and make the company more aware of compliance?

One attendee used the mantra of, “don’t be that teammate.” What they meant by that was that, we as employees need to share messages to each other when misconduct occurs, what to do in a certain scenario, what procedure or process to follow – which in no short terms relates to creating a compliance-first organization. The more this is communicated throughout the company the easier it makes it for employees to report an incident. One company even calls their hotline “the door of courage” because many times individuals don’t report something.

Another issue around the hotline that many people are challenged with is that message variable that doesn’t get clearly communicated. It begs the question of an old-fashioned party game of telephone – don’t let what you’re trying to say and the point get convoluted by transmission; make it clear, easy to understand and from your mouth – the mouth of compliance executive. If the message comes from you or your department, the less likely it is for the message to get lost.

Another attendee provided the group with insight from this study on creating an ethical workplace from SHRM.  It’s absolutely worth the read, which brings us to our next key takeaway from D.C. – overlapping data from HR with compliance and what the heck to do with ROI. We will let our recent study support these talking points.

Collaboration is necessary.
New data to help compliance officers measure their programs is sparse and slow-coming, but most agree that helpful data can be food across their organizations in other functional areas. Compliance and ethics officers must collaborate with other company leaders such as HR, IT, legal and elsewhere.

Measuring ROI remains elusive.
Compliance officers still lack a meaningful way to measure the ROI of their compliance budgets. The most prominent way to measure this today is by estimating the money saved from a fine or reputational damage from a violation. To more effectively elevate the stature, funding and influence compliance has in an organization, compliance teams need to establish a more direct correlation between compliance, company strategy and long-term business profitability.

Key takeaways:

  1. Use your hotline to it’s fullest potential. 
  2. Get data from across your organization, which is two-fold: creates compliance awareness and validates the function as a whole.
  3. ROI is a hairy, but necessary, beast. Yet, there are still creative ways to measure.

Atlanta is as sweet in compliance juice as their peaches.
This event bred the best peaches from Fortune 500 companies. It was fantastic to hear from robust, young compliance teams starting to build their teams to forth and conquer.

The conversation somewhat mirrored D.C. with the fact the compliance is data hungry, but also questioned program structure, root cause and getting your data to work together to get a richer picture of the health of your compliance program.

See our insight on data. Our recent definitive guide on case management can take the floor and speak some wisdom on the following topics.

Program structure – centralized or decentralized?
Things to examine: maturity level – early stage compliance programs should centralize. Once it gets moving, transition to having your compliance team embed it into the other business units.

Analyze – root cause
You may look at some issues that come across your desk and wonder, “what were they thinking?!” Ask that question of every issue, no matter how insignificant it may seem, and document the answer. While, for most compliance executives, preventing issues is top-of-mind; an uncommon attempt to document and address what actually causes the misconduct in question.

How root cause helps
When you identify the true influencing factors behind misconduct, it can help you determine and address program weaknesses. Examining root cause can shine a light on problems within your organization down to the employee level. Oftentimes, even comprehensive program and culture assessments may not uncover the true problems behind the problems quite like tracking root cause information as you investigate each and every case.

An integrated vision
Patrick Quinlan, Convercent’s CEO shared a few examples around how getting your data to work together can drive meaningful action with insights and benchmarking. Have you ever thought to use data you already have collected throughout your organization like HR data and integrate it with your tactical execution like hotline and case, policy and learning, conflict of interest or gifts and entertainment? He explained that a current Convercent customer was able to do just that and see behavioral and environmental factors very quickly so they could do targeted training.