Credibility, Trust Necessary to Wield Workplace Influence: The E&C Pulse - January 8, 2020

January 10, 2020 Ben DiPietro

Jan. 8, 2020

Credibility, Trust Necessary to Wield Workplace Influence

Samantha Kelen, chief ethics and compliance officer for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, talks about the goals she has for her current role, what she did in her previous position at Duke Energy, and why it is important for CECOs to seek out board service.

What are some of your goals as CECO at Cardinal? How are you enlisting support throughout the organization?


My first goal was to focus internally, get to know my team and learn everyone’s strengths. We have several programs to cover, including compliance, privacy, and risk management, so I had to understand everyone’s assignments and how they prioritized. I met with the top leaders across the company to gain their perspectives, as well. I used all of that information to identify any gaps, and created a work plan and goals for the rest of the year, projects like revising our code of conduct, hiring additional resources, and completing an annual enterprise risk assessment.


Beyond those tactical goals, I’m working hard to build relationships and gain credibility and trust. So much of my work is about influencing, and you can’t influence anyone without credibility and trust. Strong partnerships enable successful outcomes, and I know we can’t do our work in isolation. 


How does E&C in healthcare differ from the work you did in the energy sector, where you spent the bulk of your career?


I’m honestly not so sure they’re that different. They’re both highly regulated industries with complex regulatory constructs, so there are many compliance areas to monitor. When it comes to culture, both industries are focused on the well-being of our customers. In my last position at Duke Energy, we had such a strong focus on providing excellent service to our customers. We knew that in the most fundamental ways, our customers’ lives depended on our ability to keep the lights on.


At my current organization, our members’ lives are directly impacted by our business decisions each day. They depend on us, too. That’s why culture is so important, no matter the company or industry. We have to do business the right way, or our members will suffer.


At Duke, one of your main tasks was to improve culture. Talk about some of the initiatives you undertook to bring about changes, what obstacles you had to overcome, what the results were?


Duke Energy has always had a great culture, but we were constantly focused on making improvements where we could. We thought it was important to remind our employees what it meant to do business with integrity, not just talk about it. Culture is comprised of the activities and decisions your employees take every day; therefore, much of our work was spent creating engaging reminders about the situations they could face and how best to respond.


But it proved difficult in some cases, as many of our workers were remote or mobile. We had to find ways to make the content responsive to their needs. One of our most successful tools were integrity moments, one-page discussion guides managers could use during their staff meetings or morning briefings, even if they were held out of the tailgate of a truck. We saw significant improvement in some of our metrics after deploying that resource.


You serve on the board of the SCCE; how important is board service to you? What benefits do you derive as a CECO from being on a board?


Serving on the SCCE board has been truly awesome. The SCCE has provided so much color to my career through conferences, articles, and connections, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back. The depth of expertise on the board is impressive, and it’s great to be able to learn from some of the best in our business. I’m not sure I could gain this kind of experience anywhere else. 


Similarly, by serving as the treasurer this year I’ve learned more about governance, and gained a new perspective on the board’s role in the oversight of the compliance program. I now know first-hand what a board member would want to know, and that’s helped shape my own presentations to our board.


Should more CECOs have an interest in board service? How should they make that known?


I would strongly encourage other compliance officers to consider service on a board, whether non-profit, private, or public. At a recent LRN event focused on this topic, every panelist stressed the benefits to their career. They all felt their service had made them more well-rounded executives and leaders, and I echo that sentiment.  


If interested, I would recommend contacting some of the executive search firms that help fill available positions. I would also suggest you activate your networks, as many of the panelists stated they learned about an opportunity through a personal or professional connection.


                                                                                                          BEN DIPIETRO




The California Consumer Privacy Act -- a data privacy law that imposes new obligations and regulations on businesses with consumer customers located in California, regardless of where the company’s headquarters is -- took effect Jan. 1. Learn how to become compliance in our blog.





On February 6th in New York City, LRN presents an exploration on how technology, society, environment and economy will evolve the context, implication and implementation of ethics and compliance industry in the future. Sign up below to claim your seat. If you cannot make it in person, this event will also be available via webcast.






The Global Business Ethics Survey from the Ethics and Compliance Initiative found a global median of 5% of employees thought their manager was an effective leader, while 13% disagreed that their manager exerted effective leadership.





Adam Turteltaub of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics lays out some E&C resolutions for the coming year.


Behavioral scientists are among the job categories that could see big increases in need in the coming decade, according to a new report.


California's new privacy law took effect at the start of the year, and some companies say they will extend the provisions to all customers, Axios reports. The L.A. Times weighs in with an editorial on the California law requiring publicly traded companies to have women board members.


Implicit bias training doesn't work, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes in Bloomberg.


Journalism professor Bill Grueskin says it's time to overhaul the industry's code of ethics to better reflect the conditions under which journalists work.  


The U.S. is further turning to sanctions to target human rights abusers and to fight corruption, WSJ's Mengqi Sun reports. Ethical System's executive director, Alison Taylor, writes about the convergence of anti-corruption and human rights.


Former labor secretary Robert Reich says corporate social responsibility is a scam.


A police officer in Kansas admitted he faked a claim that a coffee cup he received from a McDonald's contained the word "pig." The department's chief apologized.


The chief auditor in Poland is linked to a prostitution business, Radical Compliance reports, but it will be hard to remove him from his position.


Correctional officer cadets who posed in a Nazi-like salute were fired by West Virginia's governor, who said their actions had to result in real consequences.


Compliance professional Mary Shirley writes in Corporate Compliance Insights about the value in developing a compliance mission statement.



"The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others."

– Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman



As we step out into a future where uncertainty seems to be the only certainty, integrity will be the most valuable currency a person possesses to navigate these volatile times. Whether it's in our personal or our private lives, people will be subject to many challenging and confusing circumstances, and it will be our inner ethical and moral compasses that will determine our choices at these most critical times.


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