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Compliance Trends Show Room for Improvement

WSJ's Risk and Compliance Journal reported today on In Focus: Compliance Trends Survey 2013, a collaboration by Deloitte and Compliance Week. They found, among other things, that companies focus on different kinds of compliance issues depending on their size, operational structure, and risk profile. But one of the more surprising findings was what organizations were not doing:

 

[M]ore than 40% of companies indicated that they do not use employee ethics surveys to measure compliance program effectiveness. “Companies should consider conducting such surveys annually—ideally using an outside party—to get candid results that can be studied over time,” says Nicole Sandford, national practice leader, Governance and Enterprise Compliance, Deloitte & Touche LLP. The survey also found that 62% of respondents outsource ethics hotline operations.

 

If organizations are serious about maintaining high ethical standards and rigorous adherence to compliance programs, they certainly need to talk to their employees, and they may need to take their ethics operations in-house. As we've discussed on this blog, perception of a company's culture has a huge impact on employee behavior as well as customer loyalty; companies should consider bringing the evaluation and management of compliance issues into the fold as much as possible.

According to the Survey, "[a] considerable group of companies (31 percent) don’t measure the effectiveness of their program at all. This is better than the results of a benchmarking survey Compliance Week conducted in 2011, when the figure was 38 percent, but still suggests that trying to assess effectiveness is difficult." If nearly one third of organizations are not taking stock of how well their compliance initiatives work, clearly there is room to introduce more efficient methods of evaluation--and to convince corporate leaders that such methods are worth serious pursuit. However, the trend seems to be moving in the right direction, and we are encouraged by the growing media interest in ethical systems for business.

For more information on this topic, please visit our page on compliance and ethics programs.