For a compliance program to be successful in ensuring the organization maintains a culture of compliance, it must be a priority, based on rigorous standards, and supported by key leaders. It is also important for the program to provide clear direction and expectations for employees.
Here are a few tips to build a culture of compliance:
Priority: A compliance program that is not given a high priority by senior management and board members will likely be treated as an afterthought by employees. Employees must believe that their leaders invest in the program and take compliance seriously. If they don’t believe this, they won’t either. An organization with a poor compliance record is unlikely to succeed in creating a compliance culture, but an organization committed to establishing and maintaining one can achieve it.
Regularity: The compliance program must be established and maintained with a regularity that is similar to the organization’s routine business operations. There is no guarantee of success without this consistency. For example, if senior management determines an annual performance review for each individual, then the compliance program might be pushed aside. Once senior management and board members understand that it receives the same level of attention as other business functions, however, they will see that the compliance program deserves special attention.
Rigorous standards: Employees should have a clear understanding of the compliance program’s standards. A compliance program that is perceived to be softer than ‘the competition is unlikely to change an organization’s culture for the better. Employees will likely see it as less of a priority and less important to follow. The compliance program should establish clear rules for enforcement, which employees must understand and follow.
Communication: The compliance program must be communicated effectively to all employees in the organization. Although employees are often aware of their organization's compliance requirements, they are unlikely to follow them if they do not believe that others in the organization are complying.
Leadership support: The board of directors, senior management, and key employees must take a lead role in establishing and maintaining the compliance program and must demonstrate their commitment by supporting it throughout the year. In addition, the board of directors must make sure that senior management and department heads are receiving regular updates on their efforts to implement the program.
Organizations need a compliance program to effectively manage the risks to their business as well as those of their employees. In order to maintain a culture of compliance, it must be fully integrated into the organization through education and effective communication.
How can RSM help?
If you would like further information about compliance for your business, please contact your local RSM adviser.