Modern companies seeking strong reputation and long-term success choose to create a positive corporate culture by following ethics and compliance policies in their internal and external activities.

What Is Ethics Compliance

Ethics refers to a set of regulations derived from core values, on which organizations should rely in their actions and decisions. Meanwhile compliance in this context is aligning business activities to ethics of conduct. Ethics compliance programs should promote an organizational culture of ethical conduct and compliance with law, and be applicable to all companies regardless of their size and aims at detecting and preventing violative behavior.

Compliance Is not Just about Workplace Culture any more

Corporate compliance is not limited to office and partnership policies only, it encompasses data privacy compliance as well. In recent years, Europe and the U.S. have started to pay more specific attention to the rights of users whose data is processed. Processing data refers to all businesses collecting, using, storing their customer personal data (name, emails, phones, mailing addresses, etc.), irrespective of their size and location.

If you are doing business with any of the European countries that involves personal data, or using advertising, you are eligible to GDPR. If you are located or working in California or Virginia, you are eligible to CCPA and CDPA correspondingly.

Check if you align with the GDPR.

Data Ethics

Recently, the World Federation of Advertisers released a code on data ethics that is aimed to draw attention of all businesses of the world to the importance of maintaining compliance with data privacy laws.

According to the WFA research, 74% of chief marketing officers think that data ethics will be more crucial in the next five years. The poll also revealed that 82% of employees would consider resigning from their current company if they found that their data was not safe. Only 48% stated that their organization  had a data ethics policy at the moment.

Companies need to go beyond just adhering to data privacy regulations by promoting robust establishment and maintenance of ethics compliance and making sure that everyone in the company understands its basics.

Six Steps to Foster a Culture of Ethics Compliance

How can businesses act to prevent unethical behavior? Here are the main pillars for creating the code of conduct for an organization.

  1. Establish a detailed policy

Companies should have a written document with do’s and don’ts stating the basic “golden rules” to follow with everyone working in the company complying to it. This document is the basis for building a corporate culture. Although sometimes, workplace-related matters are covered by the law, establishing the code of ethics is a wise step to take.

  1. Appoint a compliance officer

As soon as your policy is ready, assign a person responsible for handling your organization’s ethics initiatives. The Corporate Compliance Officer is the single point of contact for employees and management whenever any questions or issues with your entire ethics and compliance process arise.

  1. Deliver your code to all employees

Everyone in the company should be informed about ethics compliance. Trainings is crucial for your employees to be able to understand how ethics policies work, where they are applied and what to do when a violation is detected.

  1. Maintain transparency and educate

To achieve accountability, clearly define a mission, vision, values, and goals and inform all your employees about the policy, so they could hold to these standards.

Hold educational events that will help your employees to ask questions about the implementation of policies, resolve their issues and improve their soft skills.

  1. Be consistent and react fast

The CCO also monitors all office events and occurrences, discovers potential tensions and observes how people are doing overall. If he or she identifies any issues or conflicts, he documents this in a standardized way and conducts additional trainings for staff.

  1. Establish a clear and consistent communication

Holding one edu event on ethics compliance is not enough. Your main messages should be communicated to employees across the organization in a number of ways. HR sessions may practice regular one-to-one meetings with each employee, send out anonymous polls to discover potential violations, or hold group meetings. You may also consider delivery of the main messages of your ethics policy via company merch, during corporate events and in slogans.

  1. Ensure compliance with data privacy regulations

GDPR if you work with personal data with the EU, or CCTA if you work with the companies in California.

Ethics compliance can be tricky at first, but creating a transparent policy encouraging your employees to comply with your own example, build a safe space for communication, and stick to the principles of accountability, transparency, and consistency, will boost your compliance.

Ivanna Martyniv is a Product Manager at Infopulse and has an extensive expertise in IT-related compliance. With almost 10 years of experience in the IT industry, Ivanna is passionate about emerging technologies, digital transformation, data privacy, governance and protection. Among the topics Ivanna has already covered are digital, international standards and regulations, blockchain technology application in different industries,  IoT, etc. Currently, she is a dedicated product manager for GRC solution Infopulse SCM.

Stock photo By Elena_Dig/Shutterstock