One of the areas in which human resources can operationalize the compliance program is by ensuring that discipline is handed out fairly across the company and to those employees who integrate ethical and compliant behavior into their individual work practices going forward.

Institutional objectivity comes from procedural fairness. This is one of the things that will bring credibility to your compliance program. This Fair Process Doctrine recognizes that there are fair procedures, not arbitrary ones, in processes involving rights. Adhering to this doctrine in three areas of your compliance program is critical for both compliance specialists and for the compliance department to have credibility with the rest of the workforce.

One area in which the Fair Process Doctrine is paramount is in the administration of discipline following any compliance related incident. Discipline must be administered not only fairly, but uniformly across the company as it applies to the violation of any compliance policy.

A second area of consideration is evaluations and promotions. If the company is seen as one that advances and rewards only employees who achieve their numbers by whatever means necessary, other employees will certainly take note, and it will be understood what management evaluates and rewards employees upon.

The third area concerns internal company investigations. If employees do not believe that the investigation is fair and impartial, then it is not fair and impartial. Further, those involved must have confidence that any internal investigation is treated seriously and objectively. One reason employees go outside of a company’s internal hotline process is if they believe the investigation process will not be handled fairly.

An often overlooked role of any chief compliance officer or compliance professional is to help provide employees procedural fairness. If the compliance function is perceived as fair in the way it treats employees—in areas as varied as financial incentives, to promotions, to uniform discipline meted out across the globe—employees are more likely to inform the compliance department when something goes array. If employees believe they will be treated fairly, it will go a long way to more fully operationalizing your compliance program.