Culture

Building a compliance culture in your company is essential for risk reduction. Savvy companies know those who take compliance seriously are able to maintain a clean record, have healthier bottom lines, and thrive.

The other side of that coin is what happens when a company fails to take compliance seriously. This can come in the form of receiving a fine, getting a black mark on your business profile, or even being shut down.

So, how can a company establish a compliance culture? Let’s go over some of the best practices that can help your company get on the right track.

Clearly defining roles and responsibilities

Deciding who will be responsible for compliance issues is an integral part of the process of building a compliance program.  A compliance officer is often a good choice, as this person will have time to devote to compliance, as well as the ability to liaise with human resources and other relevant departments. However, you can also delegate compliance responsibilities to an individual employee.

Whether you appoint a Chief Compliance Officer or assign compliance to a specific employee in addition to other responsibilities, identifying a clear owner for compliance problems is critical. If your employees see, suspect, or have questions about an issue, they must know where to go. Someone in your organization must be explicitly responsible for following up on such matters.

Furthermore, someone must be in charge of constantly monitoring and updating your compliance practices. Regulations are constantly changing, and so should your compliance policy. That’s why you need a dedicated compliance person to always stay on top of the latest trends and regulations.

Having a written compliance policy

Your organization needs a set of rules and principles to govern your workers’ interactions with one another, customers, partners, competitors, and the outside world. You must be able to point to a formal code of conduct as an example of your company’s beliefs and ideals, and your employees should be able to consult this code of conduct if they are unsure.

The code of conduct acts as the focal point of your compliance culture, writing out your expectations for all of your workers to read and follow. This code of conduct can come in the form of compliance policies covering all aspects of your organization.

For example, an email retention policy encompasses all the rules and regulations related to email usage and retention.

It should govern how email is stored, accessed, and deleted. Having a clear email retention policy helps employees understand their role in the organization and outlines the rules that govern the organization.

These encompassing rules can be used as your company’s internal code of conduct. This act is necessary in order to maintain a  professional relationship with employees, customers, shareholders, and vendors.

Utilizing technology

Compliance can be overwhelming for employees. With new regulations constantly arising and the old ones getting updated regularly, it can be challenging to stay on top of compliance.

However, there are many solutions that can help. These solutions can help businesses manage compliance processes quickly and efficiently, freeing up staff to focus on other priorities.

From email archiving solutions to eDiscovery software, technology can help you stay compliant — email archiving allows you to keep all email correspondence in one place, which can help you comply with record retention regulations, while eDiscovery software can help you comply with litigation requests by allowing you to search through all of your emails for relevant information.

Educating your employees

The final step in establishing a compliance culture is to ensure that everyone in your organization — including vendors and partners — is aware of your commitment to compliance, understands the rules, and knows where to go if they have a problem.

It is crucial to communicate your commitment, but training is even more critical — your staff must understand what they can and cannot do. They must know that they may raise a compliance problem without fear of punishment and that you will listen to their concerns.

Your employees must not only adhere to compliance standards, but they must also understand how these regulations affect them on a daily basis. With consistent training, your employees will understand how to avoid risks and make informed, compliant decisions.

Leading by example

It is difficult to establish a compliance culture unless the leadership of your company or organization is fully dedicated.

Leaders must be committed to compliance, and that commitment must be demonstrated via consistent reinforcement and example-setting. If an issue occurs and a high-level individual in your company responsible for compliance is not reprimanded, your workers will believe that compliance isn’t a significant concern.

Compliance must be ensured at all levels, and both employees and executives must be held accountable for their activities. You must reaffirm this commitment whenever possible when speaking to employees and other leaders in your organization.

Conclusion

Employees will be unable to understand how applicable laws, rules, and business policies apply to their day-to-day work obligations if compliance has not been communicated inside your firm. That’s why it’s crucial to build a strong culture of compliance.

And, with authorities tightening down on non-compliance, imposing hefty penalties, and, in some cases, jail time, your company can’t afford to have a weak culture of compliance.

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