by Andrew E. Reisman with Steven J. Kuzma
10 suggestions to guide the design and implementation of “effective” training and communications within an anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliance program (see United States Sentencing Guidelines, §8B.2.1(b) (2)).
1. Be specific.
For example, people selling medical equipment should know that medical doctors employed by state-owned hospitals are considered to be “foreign officials” under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, and that lavish entertainment, even if customary, can constitute a violation of the FCPA and local law.
2. Be equally specific about the company’s policies and procedures.
Training should be customized to each employee’s job function. For example, a region sales manager should receive training on policies that limit gifts and entertainment and on due diligence procedures for appointing and monitoring third parties.
On the other hand, a payables department staff should receive training on the compliance elements of their operational procedures that are designed to detect signs of corruption in a pattern of transactions with particular third parties.
3. Train all of the third parties who can create bribery and corruption risk for your company.
Or, at least confirm that agents, distributors and other key third parties have policies, procedures and training programs for their employees (and for their agents, distributors and third parties) that are consistent with your company’s standards.
Due diligence, contractual commitments and periodic audits of training are critical for maintenance of a comprehensive training plan.
4. Choose methods and media for your various audiences.
Online training – with its confirmed delivery of content, its tracking of completion and testing of comprehension – is an important method for baseline training of a broad population. It is also useful for detailed and specific training about corporate compliance processes for specific job functions.
Online is, however, no substitute for live training, where people can ask questions, challenge and debate, and can meet the people they will need to call if they have difficult questions or confidential disclosures. Indeed, employees raise live issues to a compliance officer or lawyer in a training session or shortly thereafter. Live sessions also provide opportunities for interactive training and role-play, utilizing real-life situations that employees would recognize.
5. Get line managers involved.
Training is typically the province of subject-matter experts. But communication is the province of leaders; their very involvement in a session about corruption demonstrates its importance. A CEO cannot attend all the meetings, but a video clip can be a substitute.
6. Make training and communication a continuous experience.
Annual code of conduct training is not enough to keep an important message in front of people. Online refresher courses, monthly newsletters or compliance officer blogs are all useful techniques. Senior managers should use staff meetings and other events to make brief comments reiterating key themes.
7. Focus on culture.
One of the goals of an effective corporate compliance and ethics program is to create “an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct and a commitment to compliance with the law,” says the United States Sentencing Guidelines, §8B.2.1(a) (2).
Governmental Guidance for Implementation of the United Kingdom Anti-Bribery Act (See §5.5 of the Commentary) states, “Like all procedures training should be proportionate to risk but some training is likely to be effective in firmly establishing an anti-bribery culture whatever the category or risk.”
8. Build on the company’s code of conduct.
Build on the values of integrity and transparency that guide behavior, the core policies and procedures, and each employee’s right and responsibility to speak up without fear of retaliation, either directly to trusted managers or through confidential reporting systems.
All employees should learn about resources to guide them if they have questions: the policies they can read, web resources they can browse and subject-matter resources they can call.
9. Reinforce employees’ will to do the right thing.
Do not underestimate the challenge; you might be asking people to make fundamental changes in the way they do business: away from industry and local practices that have long proven successful and that were never considered to be dishonest since “everyone does it.”
Their competitors might continue those same practices, raising concerns among employees about their ability to compete. Your communication should address these issues directly: stating clearly the company’s position against bribery and corruption, its unwillingness to risk consequences of violating laws or to rationalize dishonest actions, and its willingness to walk away from transactions in order to protect its global business and long-term interests.
You should also emphasize the positive: employees are working for a company that will not put them at risk.
Communication is two-way. Those who speak must also hear and must measure the effectiveness of their messages and formal training programs.
Focus groups, surveys of ethical climate and employee confidence in management’s tone from the top are critical for drawing out information from employees and gauging success of the program. Trends in incidents and reports of violations also help you understand the outcome of your efforts.