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Preparing for compliance

Tom Fox | August 28, 2017

As you might suspect in a post from the Houston based-Man From FCPA this week, there will be a theme around Hurricane Harvey. For the compliance professional, one of the lessons is beyond simply being prepared but also to practice your preparations. While it may seem difficult to prepare for and practice these steps for a 1,000-year flood, there some basics you can do like having emergency equipment and preparedness items ready, check they are working, line out your evacuation routes, and other basic plans.

This same requirement for practice holds true for the compliance professional. You must do more than prepare for a compliance emergency by preparing beforehand, but you must also practice that preparedness. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made this clear in his Memo entitled “Ethical Standards for All Hands” which was released earlier in August. One of the key lines was “To ensure each of us is ready to do what is right, without hesitation, when ethical dilemmas arise, we must train and prepare ourselves and our subordinates.”

In this sentence Mattis seemed to almost echo the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs around training. In Prong 6 Training and Communication it asks the following question, Form/Content/Effectiveness of Training Has the training been offered in the form and language appropriate for the intended audience? How has the company measured the effectiveness of the training? Here it seems Mattis is spot on that training must be real world based. In other words, you must practice the components of your compliance program so that when faced with the emergency or even the moment of truth, you will be ready to proceed with the right response.

Sit down and take some time to consider the compliance emergencies which could befall your company. Do not wait until your organization appears on the front page of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or a blog post.