MAY 29, 2019
Trust Drives Ethics Throughout the Business
LRN’s 2019 Program Effectiveness Report shows companies that operationalize ethics and compliance into all facets of the organization, those where people are empowered to make decisions based on values, outperform programs that primarily focus on rules to mitigate risks.
To be successful, ethics and compliance needs to earn the trust of employees, as buy-in is essential to drive values-based behaviors into all aspects of how the business is run.
A panel at the recent Compliance Week conference in Washington, D.C., on this topic was moderated by LRN’s Susan Divers, who questioned current and former ethics and compliance chiefs from large organizations.
They discussed ways to embed ethics and compliance, and each shared some tips on ways to build trust.
Jonathan Drimmer, who recently left his position as chief compliance officer at mining company Barrick Gold to become a partner at law firm Paul Hastings, said the company takes a hyper-local approach in every community in which it operates.
Because mining operations are found in remote, often underdeveloped areas, challenges in each location are different, with unique risks that need to be mitigated while acknowledging local customs and values, he said.
One consistent issue, regardless of jurisdiction, is that the values espoused by the company are not always aligned with those in the places where Barrick operates. While the company works hard to hire locally and to procure locally, it doesn’t waver in its expectation that employees and vendors act in accordance with its values.
“It’s about understanding how our policies impact the community,” said Drimmer, adding it’s vital to identify stakeholders and invite them into the process. “We are looking for third parties that share our values,” and it’s better to screen them in than to hire them and later have to screen them out.
Susan Castaneda, a compliance officer at Hartford Financial Services, said the company has to deal with thousands of pieces of legislation annually, and while driving those changes into the operation is paramount, so is moving beyond legal requirements and creating a culture based on shared company values.
She said it comes down to one thing to think about before taking an action: “What would your mother think” if you did this?
When promoting a values-based culture, Castaneda said companies should spend more time soliciting and then considering the values their employees espouse. To build those relationships, she relies on face-to-face interactions as much as possible, especially with younger workers.
Along with building trust, Castaneda said these young employees can serve as influencers inside and outside the company--as many have social media accounts with larger followings than the company's top executives.
It’s also important to speak to everyone in the organization, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, she said.
“Look for ways of meeting different generations at the levels they want to be met,” said Castaneda.
Jorge Dajani, chief ethics officer at World Bank Group, said the organization wants to empower employees to speak up in a way in which they feel safe and comfortable, and so the reporting system is designed to give staff control over when their concern will be delivered.
For instance, someone who experienced or witnessed an incident of sexual harassment can use a cloud-based program to share their concerns anonymously, and can decide to hold off on sending their concern until one person, or two people, or five people file similar complaints, said Dajani.
“It’s an innovative way to incentivize people to have trust in the system,” he said, adding while rules require people to report misconduct, that doesn’t mean people will do it.
Part of building trust is being transparent in reporting on outcomes, to the extent possible given privacy laws, said Dajani. That means sharing quarterly reports on the number of harassment cases, whether the allegation was substantiated, and what action was taken.
“We need to show everyone is being held accountable,” he said.