Compliance is a huge component of success in many industries that have tight regulations to follow. Any business that has to follow a set of strict, unbending laws, such as the financial institutions, must create a scaffold of internal reporting and internal communications systems that ensure compliance on all levels
Compliance is constant, ongoing work. The cost of getting hammered with fines or other penalties is often too great for a business to survive. To ensure constant vigilance and oversight on everything a company does, the organization has to create a structure on internal communications focused on compliance. Internal reporting systems are one such structure Chief Compliance Officers build.
Create Incentives for Compliance
Deterrence is not enough. Many companies found out of code for various legal infractions can go under, but the threat of losing one’s job is often not enough for employees or even managers to take action when they see something amiss.
Creating no incentive for reporting compliance issues is a huge mistake. Reporting infractions usually means highlighting the mistakes of others, sometimes superiors. Employees need an extra kick to step up and blow the whistle.
Compliance Is No Place for Retaliation
It’s been proven many times that employees fear reporting mistakes and compliance issues for many reasons, and it’s easy to understand. If you’re working at a factory, for example, and you see a co-worker handle dangerous material without Personal Protective Equipment, you might correct the co-worker personally, but you’re less likely to report continued unsafe behavior to your supervisor for fear of damaging the relationship with your co-worker.
CCOs often have a difficult time getting employees to report compliance issues not because there is a problem with internal communications, but because employees fear retribution in some form or another. The best thing a CCO can do in this situation is to obliterate any hint of possible retaliation from all of his or her managers. Make it clear that retaliation resulting from internal reporting will not be tolerated, and have the Human Resources department back you up and become a part of the compliance team.
Communicate the Corporate Message and Emphasize the Value of Internal Reporting
Internal communications are all about extending the official corporate message to all members of the company. Instead of thinking of internal reporting and compliance watchdogs as add-ons to the official company message, think of them as necessary ingredients in your corporate messaging. There should be no doubt that everyone is affected by regulatory issues, and that internal reporting is the best way to handle these issues.
Collaboration and the addition of new ideas should be encouraged at all times, and internal reporting should be rewarded, not discouraged. As with all internal messaging, the underlying theme should be “we’re all in this together.” Any way that the company can be improved should be taken to heart, even highlighting the mistakes of others and their corrections.
Internal communications has to make the organization better from the inside. If compliance is a pillar of your communications strategy, your organization can’t help but succeed.